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.” 

PHOTO BY ORLY OLIVIER