Update: Thousands March In A Day Without Latinos
Police melee in Los Angeles
By H. Nelson Goodson
El Conquistador Newspaper
3206 W. National Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53215
May 2, 2007
Milwaukee, WI - Last Tuesday, thousands of people supporting immigration reform marched through city streets in an effort to gain a path to citizenship and legal work permits for relatives and friends. They chanted “Si Se Puede” along the route and called for immigrant rights and for U.S. ICE to stop raids, which results in the separation of families. March organizers from Voces de la Frontera have estimated from 60,000 to 80,000 participants this year. The march stretched for more than a mile an a half, according to organizers. They also provided estimates of the costs, the March cost at least $26,000, which included $8,000 to charter buses, $5,000 for march permits and at least $1,000 for air fair, lodging and a speaking stipend for Ricardo Chavez.
The one day boycott effect, Economics Professor Michael Rosen from the Milwaukee Area Technical College said that if just one in five of those marching in Milwaukee missed a workday to attend, this would amount to $1.3 million in lost wages and would bring a massive impact on production and services, according to a press lease on Wednesday from Voces de la Frontera.
Reports of Homeland Security and U.S. ICE activity on W. Wisconsin Ave. began to circulate an hour before the march began. Also, some demonstrators reported that federal agents were taking photos of the participants. When contacted U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic says that he was unaware of any federal involvement in monitoring the march and since this march is on city streets and involves city permits, jurisdiction would be with the City of Milwaukee, not federal authorities. No incidents between the demonstrators and federal and local authorities were reported.
“This massive turn-out on a work-day was a clear statement to Congress and the President that the immigrant community will not be intimidated and driven back into the shadows. It is also a clear sign that momentum continues to grow for fair legalization this year,” says Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera. The protesters are hoping to persuade the Democrats who controlled both the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that would create a path of citizenship, and legal status to work for over 12 million undocumented workers already in the country.
Ricardo Chavez, a key leader of the United Farm Workers Union and brother of Cesar E. Chavez, and Craig Oliver, State Chair of the NAACP were keynote speakers at the Veterans Park “A Day Without Latinos” rally.
An estimated 100 Latino small businesses were closed in support of the one day boycott, while other Latino businesses decided to stay open, according to organizers.
News reports from throughout the nation where marches took place indicate that this year a mere fraction of protesters flooded the streets. In Chicago, Illinois, police reported at least 150,000 participants compared to 400,000 last year. In Phoenix, Arizona, 15,000 people marched and 2,500 marched in Tucson. In New York City, 1,000 rallied in Washington Square Park. In Texas, 70 people stood under a sign “Welcome to Texas” near an international bridge connecting Cuidad Juarez, Mexico to El Paso. They condemned immigration raids, which have separated Mexican parents from their U.S. born children.
In Los Angeles, California, police reported that 25,000 participants marched in one of two events planned for the day compared to 200,000 last year. In a related incident, Los Angeles police in riot gear converged and tried to dispersed a crowd of several thousand shortly after 6:30 p.m. when the peaceful march ended at MacArthur Park. The afternoon event was sponsored by a Catholic church and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
A group of protesters began to throw bottles and rocks at police. Police fired rubber bullets at the crowd hitting children, women, adults, senior citizens and members of the Latino media. They also fired tear gas at the demonstrators. The protesters claim that police incited and had provoked the melee.
Reporters were able to capture images in video and still photos of police beating on other news reporters. The images show police pushing, throwing and forcing reporters to the ground. The reporters were beaten with batons while some officers stepped and kicked camera equipment. Various media agencies reported that their equipment had been damaged by police. TV Azteca America reported one of their reporters was injured in the police melee. The Radio and Television News Association in California requested an internal police investigation calling the police attack on reporters “an act of brutal and violent attack against the media.”
Last Wednesday, William J. Bratton, Los Angeles Police Chief said some police officers might have used inappropriate force. "In my capacity as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, I want to assure the public we all serve, the political leadership of the City, the media, and the men and women of the Department, that the Department, in conformity with the Consent Decree, our policies and procedures, and guidance from the Police Commission, will conduct comprehensive, detailed investigations into the unfortunate events that occurred in MacArthur Park yesterday, at the conclusion of what had been a series of peaceful marches, demonstrations, and rallies by tens of thousands of participants.
Investigators will be interviewing injured members of the media later this afternoon. They will also work to identify the officers involved in the uses of force.,” Bratton said.
Seven police officers suffered minor injures, eight adults and one juvenile were arrested for several offenses, including drinking in public, assault with a deadly weapon for throwing a rock at officers, and one arrest was made for interfering with police, according to Bratton.
Bratton was expected to travel to El Salvador on Wednesday to meet Mayor Villaraigosa who is visiting the country. Villaraigosa requested Chief Bratton to remain in Los Angeles and head the internal investigation concerning the police melee.
FYI, checkout TMJ4 News link and video of March "A Day Without Latinos" in Milwaukee, WI:
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