MacArthur Park Showdown

Until Tuesday, the immigrant-rights movement had been defined by its buoyant, almost jubilant nature. Immigrants and their supporters had marched peacefully by the millions for more than a year in cities and towns across America, celebrating the dignity of their lives and their cause. All that changed on May Day in L.A.’s MacArthur Park. As the planned rally wound down on the park’s north soccer field Tuesday afternoon, a ruckus drew attention to the southeastern edge of the park, where LAPD officers were forming a line to guard the middle of the street. More cops standing shoulder-to-shoulder menacingly holding batons drew more onlookers, which drew more cops, which drew more onlookers. The seemingly pointless showdown kept escalating. What happened next is under dispute. In a hurried press conference later in the evening, LAPD Chief William Bratton told an indignant local media that preliminary information suggested officers suffered “missile” attacks — bottles and food — which forced them to respond. But witnesses and media said the police began pressing forward at one point, indiscriminately firing rubber bullets — or rather “foam bullets,” as the LAPD refers to them now — upon the crowd. Video footage online and on local TV stations shows officers clubbing and violently shoving teens, seniors, adults holding small children, and even reporters. One piece of footage shows officers senselessly beating a cameraman who had been knocked to the ground, and then striking a female reporter who stepped in to protest. At the edges, behind the outer police lines, marchers were in shock, fuming and frightened as they watched small squads of police in riot helmets running around the park for no apparent reason, shooting at or striking people along the way. One woman was nearly hysterical as she explained how she was separated from her 7-year-old daughter. Another woman, Sarah Araiza, said officers pushed her 13-year-old. “They were pushing children — see that police officer, laughing like a jackass? That officer pushed my daughter,” Araiza said. “He pushed her for no reason.” 


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