Officers in riot gear from the Los Angeles Police Department fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to disperse a "crowd of hundreds" gathered at a local park for a previously peaceful May Day immigration rally tonight.
National rally coordinators are protesting the action and have sent us a statement via email asking citizens to call on LAPD Chief William Bratton and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to demand an independent investigation into the "May Day incident at MacArthur Park." They are also seeking information from anyone in the crowd at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles during the incident. The statement, sent from Lee Sui Hin, National Coordinator from the National Immigrant Solidarity Network/Action LA Coalition, is posted in full at the end of this article.
NBC 4 is reporting that Bratton is claiming "15 officers were hit by missiles that were thrown at them by 'certain elements of the crowd ... who we don't believe were representative' of most of those who were there...While he spoke, a person could be heard declaring, 'That's not true.'"
He's promised an investigation, though the rally coordinators are demanding tonight that an independent commission be appointed to look into the matter.
Fox 11 has a very good first-hand video report, featuring their local reporter who had been covering the rally and said she heard no notice to disperse, as claimed by the police. Her crew was roughed up, as seen in the video.
AFP reports that some 200,000 rallied nationwide today. Here's what UPI is reporting tonight on the LA incident:
LOS ANGELES, May 1 (UPI) --- A day of peaceful immigration rallies in major U.S. cities Tuesday was marred when Los Angeles police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.
Witnesses said police wearing riot gear and wielding batons gave no warning before firing at rally participants gathered at MacArthur Park, CNN reported. Police said a protester knocked down a motorcycle officer, the news channel said.
There were no reports of serious injuries and no arrests were made.
LA Times is reporting, in contradiction to UPI that:
Late Tuesday, a staff member from Telemundo's newsroom confirmed that one reporter and three camera operators from the Spanish-language TV station had been injured and had been taken to a hospital by police.
Another TV station, Fox 11, showed video on its 10 p.m. newscast of a station camerawoman apparently being struck by a baton-wielding police officer in riot gear.
UPDATE: 5/2/07: Extraordinary new video now available here...
The complete statement from the National Immigrant Solidarity Network follows below...