Immigrant Rights rally at McCarthur Park near downtown LA turns ugly as an LAPD SWAT team attack peaceful protestors gathered for an immigrant rights rally.
I'm literally still catching my breath after running a good couple of miles from the LAPD officers who plunged into an immigrant right's rally in a heavily Latino neighborhood.
Earlier, at least 7 to 10,000 protestors congregated at MaCarthur Park just west of downtown LA. It was a peaceful, and- as National Lawyer's Guild legal observer stated- "uneventful" march.
Things didn't actually get out of hand until a police motorcade forced their way into a large circle of people who were watching aztec danzantes near the southeast corner of the park on Alvarado. A squad of cops on bike followed. They were then followed by riot cops on foot.
On the opposite end of the park, several hundred yards away, another large scuffle broke out involving dozens of activists. That quickly escalated as dozens of cops in riot gear filled the intersection. Then, suddenly, they retreated.
I guess you can say it was the calm before the storm.
Less than an hour later, after leaving the main stage area, I noticed people running to the southeast corner of the park where there was a whole lot of commotion.
Without warning, cops descended into a park full of families, homeless and handicapped individuals and street cart vendors. They were merciless.
Sanjukta Mitra Paul, on duty with the NLG, says LAPD offers of allowing her to speak with a chief never materialized. She also says she never got word of the police order for protestors to disburse. Although there had been mention of an 'unlawful assembly,' there was never any order for protestors to leave or risk arrest.
For the next 30 minutes, hundreds of activists and by standers were shot, beaten by night sticks and run out of the park. The police had no intention of entertaining requests from people who were not able to move quickly enough. They were forcefully hit on the legs until they were immobile.
The cops didn't only move people out of the perimeters of the park, they chased through the park firing at anyone who might have been an obstacle. I witnessed many people who were shot at from the back. Children and entire families were being violently pushed or beaten. An elderly woman cried out for help but few were willing to run back in the face of fast-approaching SWAT police.
We were chased onto 7th street and forced at least 6 blocks west. The police tried to cordone off the entire area but most protestors didn't stick around. It was frightening for even seasoned protestors.
In retrospect, and putting it in context, the police are there to protect business interests and the private property of the wealthy. When a mass demonstration like last year's Great March included a successful economic boycott and work strike, the business class feels threatened. And the police are impulsed to move in however strategic ways they're ordered to.
I'm sure the cops know that many activists in the crowd will share their stories with many frightened friends and family members in the community. They know they've struck fear into the hearts of thousands of people.
Don't be surprised if the next march is considerably smaller.
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