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May Day Clash Brings LAPD Back Under Investigation

by Charles Harmison (writer), Kauai, Hawaii, May 03, 2007

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Otherwise peaceful all over the country, the May Day immigration march ended in violence Tuesday as riot police opened fire on demonstrators with rubber bullets and indiscriminate beatings from batons, all captured in intimate detail by the many cameras present. Late in the day things turned ugly when Los Angeles police decided to forcibly clear MacArthur Park west of downtown in response to jeers and thrown objects from a group of individuals said to be separate from the immigration protesters who were reportedly following all rules of conduct.

Some 240 rounds in all were fired out of the blue toy like shotguns into a crowd that included reporters, vendors, and other nonparticipants in the demonstration. Recipients of the barrage claim that some officers were mockingly shooting in "Robocop postures" and "Rambo poses". Although no serious injuries occurred at least ten people were taken to the hospital and treated for cuts and bruises.

The shift from peaceful crowd management to violent suppression measures occurred with little to no warning and with very little concern to whether those targeted were part of the unruly few or not. The footage of officers pummeling a middle aged female vendor who was only trying to gather her food coolers, which officers maliciously kicked over, sticks out among many other examples of blatantly unnecessary and callous force. Camera crews and Spanish television journalists were not immune to the attacks by angry police officers who formed a line and literally beat and shot anyone in their path as they marched forward.

Watching the cold and violent manner which is employed by countless helmeted officers toward cowering women, children and reporters is difficult for anyone to watch without becoming alarmed. Though Police Chief Bratton has promised an inquiry admitting that some of the actions by the officers were "inappropriate" he stopped short of apologizing, and many feel that due to the chaos of the day no individual officers will be held accountable for their behavior. Furthermore, this latest blemish on the LAPD shield only adds to an already besmirched reputation still recovering from another scandal involving a violent arrest caught on tape in November of last year. This, a reputation which Chief Bratton was hired to improve.

Adding to the fervor against this latest forceful episode from riot police, the timing comes only three days before the 37 year Anniversary of the 1970 Kent State incident in which police opened fire on a crowd of students protesting the Vietnam War. That tragedy, which left four dead and many more injured, might not relate much to this recent event, as they occurred during very different circumstances, had not a recording recently surfaced which has reopened this age old wound and an age old question. This tape proves that the officers were ordered to fire on the students discounting the statements that officials had blamed on miscommunication and human error.

In retrospect it can be easy for those in charge to pick and choose which actions by their officers caught on tape were "encouraged" or downright ordered, and which were "inappropriate" or the fault of a few bad cops. However, watching the multitude of officers beating innocent people, without so much as questioning whether they should, one begins to wonder what kind of training our so called public servants receive. Why, if this was isolated "inappropriate" behavior, didn't any police commanders put a stop to it while it was happening? Why are veteran police officers unabashedly attacking reporters and old women?

The saying goes "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Well, the truth of this statement unfolded before our eyes Tuesday, through the actions of this specially trained LAPD riot squad. They were handed a license with unquestioned power over an already persecuted group and they used this license in a manner which should be considered unforgivable. If not, things haven't changed much since those days nearly forty years ago and gone is the image of "officer friendly" to be replaced by the new one "officer fear me".


About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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9 comments on May Day Clash Brings LAPD Back Under Investigation

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By Steven Lane on May 03, 2007 at 01:22 pm
Interesting article, I didn't see any of this in the mainstream news, but then I live in Simi Valley where every neighbor is a policeman, so we are a little sheltered from any news from the "outside".
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By Matt Weston on May 03, 2007 at 03:21 pm
Is there video available of this "inappropriate" behavior by the police? Other than what was shown on local stations, I mean. Also, were you there? It's unclear in the article. In the interest of straight news, I could do without the soapboxing of the final paragraph. Otherwise well-written.
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By Jen on May 03, 2007 at 03:38 pm
El- Isnt it “no espeaka DE Engis”? ;) I haven't been near a TV in a few days, but I imagine there were A#%holes on both sides of the fence.
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By Charles Harmison on May 03, 2007 at 08:13 pm
Mabreen- First off you are correct and it is my mistake to label those responsible for the Kent State shootings as "police", those who fired were in fact national guardsmen which the police had called in. That said i have not compared the Kent state shootings to this latest incident i simply said that the timing was bad. the videos are everywhere at both you tube and the national news sites the fact is, that these "illegals" (as they are called with the same sneer usually reserved for a word beginning with the letter 'N') whatever they are called, they were not doing anything wrong. those who were causing a disturbance were bandanna shrowded rowdies looking for a fight with police not the marchers and vendors that ended up the victims of the cruel response. these riot police, which in many ways are much more like military unit than a police squad, are beating women who are crying out to them "why" and it wasn't just "illegals" which appear unworthy of certain people's compassion. kcal 9 reporters and camera crews who do "espeaka Englis" were pummeled and tossed along side the "criminals" in fact their skin was even white. just because nobody died doesn't mean that this is o.k. the sacrifices of demonstrators like your friend and all others,(i know people also) who have been beaten and killed in police suppression techniques expose this behavior as wrong. How can you disagree with that in any good conscience? I realise that the immigration issue is a hot button for many but that should not allow this police brutality to be viewed as amusing or ok. if it was your families you might be a little more angry about this too.
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By D. E. Carson on May 03, 2007 at 09:23 pm
Since we're bashing cops here, let's talk about the scumbag deputy in Florida who man-handled a woman trying to get to her sick father. The man was having a heart attack and the cop didn't give a rip, even going so far as to yank the woman out of the car, slam her on the trunk lid, hand cuff her and stuff her. He drew a five day suspension. He deserved to be fired and thrown in jail. This guy was a scumbag for treaing a woman in distress like a greaseball _pachuko_. El G: Nice satire. At least I hope that was satire. If it's for real, it just might galvalize my opposition to illegal aliens. Jen: Yes, there were assholes on both sides of the fence. I don't think Mabreen was disagreeing. I think s/he was saying that MacArthur Park and Kent State were apples and oranges. I will say that I don't trust the LAPD any further than I could pick up a Metro bus and throw it, but at the same time, there was no reason for the illegal aliens to throw bottles of frozen urine at the cops either.
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By Charles Harmison on May 05, 2007 at 12:30 am
mabreen it is truly sad that someone who was at kent state has now become so bought in that they side with the same behavior that caused the death of someone you knew. I don't know how many times it has to be stated that those who were the victims of the police brutality did nothing wrong. The bottle and rock throwing came from a group of reported anarchists that were not even there to march for immigration. El G something is seriously wrong with you.
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By D. E. Carson on May 06, 2007 at 01:46 pm
You know, I've been reading and listening to discussions (what few are available) about the whole MacArthur Park thing, and it seems to me that what we have here is a rush to judgment. I heard a caller last Friday on Larry Elder's show and it was a very interesting exchange. Larry had on as a guest the president of the LA Police Protective League (their union) Bob Baker. Mr. Baker was fielding a call from a man clearly angry about what happened on May 1. The caller was so certain that what had happened was police brutality and he was taking it out of Mr. Baker. Baker, however, had a very interesting reply and I think it is one that bears repeating. Baker said, "You said yourself you weren't even there. Yet you have arrived at a conclusion and investigators don't even have all of the facts gathered yet. How can you make such a judgment when investigators haven't even reviewed all of the video yet. What information do you have beyond the video shown on television that investigators don't?" I think Mr. Baker is right. We've all become so sure that "video doesn't lie" that we'll crucify anyone based on video alone. I have to ask this one question, why doesn't any of the video available show what happened BEFORE cops were shown swinging batons at people? How does anyone know that a cop swinging a baton at someone wasn't defending himself from an anarchist and someone else got in the way? The fact of the matter is they don't. All they see is what is going on when the camera started rolling. The old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words so video must tell the whole story. Well, if you've ever worked with video, you know that video only tells what is captured. If the tape isn't rolling, nothing is being captured. Plus, there are ways even amatures can edit video now to make it look how they want to tell the story they want. I said earlier that I don't trust cops any further than I can throw a bus, but geez, people, we are still in America where even cops are innocent until proven guilty. If the Duke lacrosse fiasco does't teach us anything else, it should at least teach us that a rush to judgment can do more harm than good.
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By Charles Harmison on May 06, 2007 at 03:12 pm
u guys will come up with anything to justify this wont you
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By D. E. Carson on May 06, 2007 at 04:31 pm
No, I'm not justifying anything but it seems that you are. You seem to be okay with people throwing bottles and rocks at police, like that's some sort of badge of honor to be displayed for all to see. I'd like to know who really started it. My money's on the illegal alien goon squad, a subset of a bunch of people who had no right to be there in the first place. ANARCHY SUCKS!!!
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