That protest that cops braced for near MacArthur Park?
Turns out to have been a big dud. Not that we blame the LAPD for preparing. After all, the target of demonstrators' ire was the department itself. And the last time the topic came up — the September shooting of Guatemalan day laborer Manuel Jamines — three nights of protest and unrest resulted.
On Tuesday night nary three dozen people showed up for the party. There were more officers on the ground (and on rooftops) near West Sixth Street and South Union Avenue. An organizer told us …
… so many coppers showed up that it scared immigrants that would normally demonstrate away.
“They got too many cops,” Southern California Immigration Coalition organizer Carlos Montes told the Weekly. “It has a chilling effect on your freedom of speech.”
There was also a concurrent demonstration, focused on peace and music, at MacArthur Park, Montes said.
Hmm. Police presence didn't seem to stop people in a much larger crowd from throwing rocks and bottles in September on the same street.
We think the unrest in September was more about the economy, joblessness, and the sad state of L.A.'s inner-city immigrant community than the shooting of Jamines. People were tired, desperate and angry over a lot more than that.
On Tuesday afternoon the L.A. Police Commission announced the results of an investigation into Jamines' death: Officer Frank Hernandez was right to open fire on a man who had threatened bystanders, a pregnant woman and cops themselves with a knife.
But Jamines' death turned into a cause celebre about the treatment of immigrants by police.
On Tuesday officers geared up for the worst, announcing a tactical alert in the LAPD Central Division — which allows more cops to stay on duty — and sending out the mounted officers, helicopters and patrol units.
Immigrants rights organizer Montes, however, called off the 5 p.m. protest by 8, when it really seemed to have petered out.
“See you tomorrow,” he said as people gathered up their “LAPD Culpable” signs. “See you manana.”
He said another protest was planned outside the downtown Criminal Courts building at 4 p.m. today to ask District Attorney Steve Cooley to move forward with charges against Hernandez.
On Tuesday Cooley's office stated no charges would be forthcoming.