May Day Police Violence: Caught on Tape!


Expect to see lots of video coverage tomorrow of the heavy handed police reaction at MacArthur Park, the rally point for the second May Day march. I was watching the coverage on the national Univision broadcast (similar to the major network 6:30 pm programs) and while the local reporter was giving a live update, the police could be seen in the background shooting foam bullets at the crowd. Telemundo had even crazier footage with the news team getting manhandled in their broadcast tent, also while they were broadcasting live. Fox 11 has footage of Christina Gonzalez getting her own sampling of excessive force, and in her report tonight she was rightfully pissed and was demanding an explanation. Even though there were reports of some young kids throwing things at the cops at some breakaway march, nobody can understand why they went after all the families that were in the park far away from all that commotion.

What I found interesting about the live Univision broadcast was the news reporter quickly coming to the conclusion that the excessive use of force by the police was the fault of the protesters, that they brought this onto themselves, which is often the line you hear on the news. But with so many news reporters becoming part of the story (some getting hurt in the process) and with video coverage of the event, this is going to quickly take on a new face. I wonder if this latest example of police over-reaction will affect Bratton’s chances at another term as Chief? Something tells me that once all the LAPD “investigations” are over they will declare themselves to have been completely justified. And so it goes.

Many personal accounts can be found on


You can see the footage from the Telemundo cameras and another video clip over at

33 thoughts on “May Day Police Violence: Caught on Tape!”

  1. By heavy handed Рdo you consider keeping order heavy handed?  When asked to obey the law did the protesters comply, or did they in fact cause the police to take further action?

  2. I consider excessive use of force to be heavy handed. Two reporters, one for Fox and one for Telemundo said they never heard any order to disperse, that after the police had already started the baton swinging and shooting foam bullets a helicopter flew by with the orders to disperse.

  3. Here in San José about 5,000 participants made their way to City Hall. I did not hear of any major problems. The Bay Area also had a few counter rallies favoring legal immigration.

  4. Joann, were you there? I was. The police were far beyond heavy-handed. They were provocative and clearly spoiling for a fight. I have never been so disgusted with the police–any police, anywhere–in my life. That’s not an exaggeration.

    In the past I have seen police officers, including those in the LAPD, handle large crowds firmly but respectfully, maintaining a rapport while letting people know what the boundaries of behavior are and enforcing them. That was not the case today at MacArthur Park. Quite literally from the moment the marchers arrived at the park, officers began making unprovoked assaults on members of the crowd, pushing, shoving, and driving their motorcycles into crowds of people including kids and the elderly. Again, I am not exaggerating even a little bit.

    If you don’t believe what I’m telling you…well, I can hardly believe what I saw either. But I did see it, and it did happen. Today was a black day in the LAPD’s already checkered history. They (meaning you and I) will pay dearly for this.

  5. “Double time, it’s tussle time.”

    Wow. I just watched the Christina Gonzalez (FOX 11) coverage. It pretty much reinforces everything I saw. Joann and others who can’t bring themselves to believe that the LAPD could do something like this in this post-Rampart, post-Rodney King era, I invite you to click on the link above. The only caveat I would offer is that I disagree with the woman who tells Gonzalez that young people were “provoking the police.” It was the other way around; they were reacting to being provoked. I was fortunate (if you can call it that) to be in a physical position to see the very beginning of the conflict, quite a while before the rubber bullets started flying. The police, quite simply, started it.

    Gonzalez is correct in pointing out that the people inside the park had no reason to expect a phalanx of police to start firing rubber bullets at them. The (police-initiated and police-provoked) “tussles” that led up to the park being violently cleared did not occur in the park. They occurred on the street: on Wilshire Blvd. and on Alvarado, to be precise. People in the park were listening to music, playing drums, eating, and playing with their kids, celebrating a successful march. They had no idea what was going on on the street and were, in every sense of the word, innocent.

    Sorry for commenting twice in a row. I should have watched the Fox video first and combined the two.

  6. Are we all watching the same videos? Fox is the worst, a report with an agenda incapable of being neutral. I heard them telling her to leave, she chose to stay and argue and crossed the line from observer to participant.
    All that aside, I see a few bent on causing problems, told to get back in line and start tossing. People deviating from what was the permitted route (where are the organizers in controlling their own crowd). Rubber bullets is hardly excessive force. Real bullets would have been. All it takes is a few bad ones (maybe dressed like Chucky inciting) and innocent people get caught in the cross fire. This is what happens when you participate in something as emotion charged as this issue.
    Personally I’d like to see the organizers for this be held accountable for all the financial disruption to the businesses along their route as well as costs of crowd control.

  7. Frazgo,
    Are you being serious? EVERY testimonial I’ve read has mentioned the police gave no warning or order to disperse. The initial confrontation was happening on the other side of the park across Wilshire. Why did the police have to move across the street, across the park to break up the peaceful rally? And have you seen the footage of people who were shot with the projectiles? They look pretty beat-up and in pain.
    It reminds me so much of my mom’s stories of the Chicano Moratorium in 1970. She ran from teargass and hid out in a church when the police began beating everyone. Interestingly, the police also shot a journalist during this incident, except they didn’t use rubber bullets.
    Piolin is taking live on the air phone calls right now from people confirming Daniel’s experience.

  8. Treatment of illegal aliens is a zero on the care-o-meter. Perhaps they should go back to their own country.

  9. Frazgo,
    Just wait til your family gets hit by rubber bullets for no reason and see if think its not excessive force. This is not what should “happen” when you are involved in civil dissent.


  10. The reporter interviewing Villaraigosa this morning on KNBC was pretty pissed off, mostly it seemed because journalists were targeted by the police–I don’t know if she would have had the same reaction if they left journalists alone and went after everyone else.

    Very similar to what happened in 2000 at the rally at the first day of the DNC. Permitted rally, lawful gathering, but suddenly the police decided it was an “unlawful assembly”–this was before the Black Bloc nobs started causing trouble–and shut the whole thing down. That seemed worse than what happened yesterday, but still both excessive uses of force on both occasions, and journalists struck both times–David Horowitz, the “Fight Back” guy, got manhandled and pepper sprayed at the DNC rally.

  11. So, it was okay for the “troublemakers” (and I single them out as I’m damn sure they were there to cause issues with the cops no matter what) to leave the parade route, throw objects at the cops and not even listen to the events organizers? The cops overreacted, sure. But you defenders seem to neglect to mention that these assholes do this kind of shit at every event such as this, because it’s what they LIVE for. There were thousands of people protesting peacefully across this nation, yet it is generally the “professional protesters” that cause this crap.
    Fuck them.

  12. Kneejerk,
    No, it was the police that “caused this crap.” Growing up in Los Angeles, I’ve seen this time and time again. LAPD gets really nervous and itchy around large crowds. It’s their job as professionally trained civil servants to learn how to deal with large crowd issues. Clearing a peacefull rally without warning and with rubber bullets and batons, knowing there are children and elderly people in the crowd seems very unprofessional to me.
    I don’t doubt they decided to take this action in order to scare people away from protesting and marching. Too many people feeling empowered, I guess.

  13. Having been at a number of peaceful sit-ins–most in Westwood–and seeing how twitchy the police get just having to stand around a large group of unarmed (and primarily vegan, pale, skinny and undernourished–sorry UCLA kids, living off french fries isn’t good vegan eating) protesters sitting on the ground, I gotta say, it does seem like the LAPD gets amped up by these things to the point where they are, indeed, spoiling for a fight.
    I wish they could be trained not only in responding to civil disobedience in a way that *de-escalates* conflict, but that they could also undergo the same training in peaceful protest that many protesters undergo–learning how to peacefully submit to arrest, how not to pose a physical threat, how to go limp when being cuffed–so they could have more empathy for people who really are just exercising their civil right for peaceful protest.

  14. Emotions run high on this thread. Bottom line is that the vast majority of those there were there for peaceful protest.
    However, when you get a group this big you are bound to have a few trouble makers. When civil authorities step in because the odd trouble maker is there and an order to disburse or move is made, just do it. Its unfortunate some ruin it for everyone. It happens, live with it. You can’t go off blaming the LAPD those poor guys are so limited and hamstrung on what they can do it isn’t funny. I keep waiting for someone to offer up a shread of video showing the cops starting it. Rubber bullets, nice change from Kent State where the real deal was used.

  15. Its unfortunate some cops ruin it for everyone. Maybe some people are too quick to blame the LAPD but mostly there are people that never see any wrongdoing by the LAPD because they never find themselves on the wrong end of the baton. If you grow up poor or colored in this city, thats the end you often see. It happens, live with it.

  16. Yes, Frazgo, as a matter of fact I can and will continue blaming the LAPD for what happened yesterday. They did not have to do what they did. They were by no means “limited” yesterday; MacArthur park was swarming with helmeted, armed officers looking for a fight.

    As for video of the police starting it, I will (seriously) let you know if I see any video online of the disgraceful police behavior at Wilshire and Park View immediately after the arrival of the march at the park. This is where the police started the conflict. If I had to pinpoint it somewhere, I would say that they really kicked it off when whey started driving motorcycles into the crowd. Although, as I said, they had begun shoving people with batonsn(including me, and I was facing away from, and had just crossed from the right to the left of, the officer who shoved me) a few minutes before that.

    You sage experts who weren’t there are killing me, by the way. It’s disturbingly easy to rationalize indefensible behavior when you didn’t witness it. Human psychology is really something to behold.

  17. Look the police chief said it was ‘disturbing’ and ‘inappropriate’. That’s the chief of frickin’ police, what makes all you kneejerks think you know more about the situation then he does???

  18. I can hardly wait for next years Democratic/Republican conventions, there may be a “perfect storm” of protest, (Immigration/Iraq, ect.) there should be some major Head Slamming by the cops, wherever these events may be.

  19. Um Ted…thanks for taking things out of context and using it to slam in an effort further the emotional context of it all. The chief said “Some of the officers’ action … were inappropriate in terms of use of batons and possible use of nonlethal rounds fired.”
    Operative word is some. It will be very interesting to see how it all plays out once the emotions have settled and people review it all rationally and calmy. In the mean time misquoting and relying on emotional pleas doesn’t help anything.

  20. “El Chavo!” “Chimatli” “Daniel” You guys are my new heros! Keep up the good work. Keep on intelligently taking some of these people out of the abyss of ignorance they live in.
    P.S. Where can I download these videos, I’m plannig on making a video using these clps but I can’t find them anywhere.

    System of A Down’s “Deer Dance”

    circumventing circuses,
    lamenting in protest,
    to visible police,
    presence sponsored fear,
    battalions of riot police
    with rubber bullet kisses,
    baton courtesy,
    service wih a smile

    beyond the staples center you can see america,
    with its tired, poor, avenging disgrace,
    peaceful, loving youth against the brutality,
    of plastic existence,

    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around,
    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around,

    a rush of words,
    pleading to disperse,
    upon your naked walls, alive,
    a political call,
    the fall guy accord,
    we can’t afford to be neutral on a moving train,

    beyond the staples center you can see america,
    with its tired, poor, avenging disgrace,
    peaceful, loving youth against the brutality,
    of plastic existence,

    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around,
    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around.
    push them around,

    a deer dance, invitation to peace,
    war staring you in the face, dressed in black,
    with a helmet, fierce,
    trained and appropriate for the malcontents,
    for the disproportioned malcontents,
    the little boy smiled it’ll all be well,
    the little boy smiled it’ll all be well,

    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around,
    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around,
    pushing little children,
    with their fully automatics,
    they like to push the weak around,
    push the weak around,
    push the weak around,
    push the weak around,
    they like to push the weak around.

  21. I was poor and brown in Los Angeles, and never saw a police baton in person, much less the wrong end of one, until I became a police reporter. And that was only when I was doing a ridealong.

  22. Things wont change until we take action ourselves and replace those commissioners and police officials who allow this type of action to continue day after day. We must make the police accountable for violating the civil rights of its citizens. This is not a race or immigration issue, it is one of basic human rights. We shouldnt be treated like cattle by those who are suppose to protect us.

  23. To be honest–and I can predict right now that some will take this the wrong way–I’m not sure how much is even gained at this point by trying to debate people like Frazgo. It seems to be agreed at this point, among reasonable people with at least middling powers of observation who were there or saw the footage, that the LAPD did something very, very wrong at MacArthur park on Tuesday.

    The only worthwhile question, then, is what happens next. We are going to be in for some very interesting times (in several senses of the phrase, including the apocryphal Chinese “curse”), even if this case drags out like the Rodney King incident. Without a doubt, a few heads will roll. Whose will they be? Can Bratton survive this? What will become of the rage in the community created (or exacerbated) yesterday by the LAPD? Will it dissipate, explode, be channeled into something else?

    We’ll be having this conversation sooner or later, so we might as well begin it now. I don’t think any purpose is served by wasting any more time trying to convince people who refuse to accept what happened. Should any of them choose in the future to rejoin the reality-based community, of course, I will of course be the first to welcome them back. :)

    Meanwhile, any thoughts on Bratton’s news conference yesterday?

  24. You’re probably right, Daniel, I do love how once I put up the Chief’s comments, Fragzo starts talking about how we have to assess the situation rationally and not rush to judgment– in other words, what he/she has been doing since this post was up!

    Look, if you live in Los Angeles and automatically side with the police when it comes to violent incidents, you are either not paying attention or just don’t give a shit about civil rights. I’m not saying the police are wrong in every case, but history is not on their side, and they have a very long way to go before they regain the trust of those of us bothering to pay attention. Bratton seems to recognize this, putting him leagues ahead of many complacent commenters.

  25. I appreciate your thoughtful and articulate contributions to this discussion, Daniel. And I agree with you, energy is better spent on discussing what will happen next. I understand though, why some people don’t want to admit LAPD can be in the wrong. They need something to trust in and to see an institution that’s supposed to protect us, actually harm us, must cause them some mental anxiety.

    No matter what happens with the police investigation, the damage is already done. Many immigrants will probably not march again and I have a feeling the intent of the police was to create a climate of fear to discourage people from participating in future marches. Even if the incident hadn’t escalated into violence, the mere presence of hundreds of police in riot gear was intimidating enough. My question is, if all the marches have been peaceful, why have such a show of force? It’s insulting to Latinos, immigrants and the neighborhood. It’s a way of reminding people, they are second class citizens and not to be respected.
    It’s really hard to predict what will come of this horrible incident. Even if Bratton takes some blame, so what? They found the Rampart cops guilty of all sorts of things and what did that change?

  26. I am also interested in the thoughts of other people who were there on the question of the “agitators” that Bratton kept mentioning in his press conference (and that the LA Times is now referring to, uncritically). Did you see anybody trying to agitate the peaceful crowd to violence? If you saw anything like that, was it before or after the police started behaving belligerently and shoving people at Wilshire and Park View?

    I think I know what group of people Bratton is talking about. They are a group of fairly young kids, high school or college age, dressed in anarchist or “crusty punk” attire. They seem to take pride in not retreating from police, but I’ve never seen them behaving violently without being provoked. On Tuesday, I didn’t notice them at all until after the police behavior at Sixth and Park View. Contra Bratton, they do not have the military organization of Roman legions; it took them a while to gather themselves together and start marching towards the police (and I don’t think there were fifty of them, either). But again, they didn’t start this up until a few minutes after the jaw-droppingly aggressive police behavior at the intersection, and seemed to be in response to it.

    I bring this up because it looks like the LAPD is going to try very hard to blame their thuggish behavior on Tuesday on the actions of these “agitators.” Shades of the 1950s and 60s. You’ll be hearing a lot about them in the coming weeks and months, and I think it would be useful to discuss them now, while they are still just a somewhat ragtag and loosely organized group of pissed-off young kids, rather than the fearsome peace-disturbing machine that they will surely become in the media.

  27. oh for pete’s sake. Whose job is it to keep the peace? Who supposedly gets training and responsibility for peacekeeping in exchange for being trusted with weapons and the right to kill? Who violates that trust by escalating violence? How does it preserve order to escalate violence? Was there any reason the police had to fear for their safety? look at their body armor!

    Look at them shooting into a crowd of people, including young children! They didn’t go after any “troublemakers” they opened fire indiscriminately. They beat people trying to pick their beaten friends off the ground. The beat reporters with batons. There’s nothing that excuses that behavior.

    and whoever it is who seems to think that some people are less than human and have no rights because of where they were born, I pity your sad, vicious existence, your attitude is a reflection of your lack of self-worth. No whole person would so easily deny the humanity of others.

  28. There are car clubs (lowriders) in Elysian Park today at the Avenue of the Palms. Usually there is an obvious LAPD presence, but I didn’t see any pandas today. I wonder if they are deliberately keeping a low profile after 5/1.

    By the way, the car clubs generally have families there, and it is a picnic type atmosphere. I don’t know why the police usually have their “presence” because it has never seemed needed.

  29. How many people at this event were legal? I mean, obviously the reporters and some were, but how many were not? I have been to a few events where police intervention was used. I hate police as much as the next guy, but I have witnessed first hand how uncontrollable a crowd can be and that you are not always able to hear thier disperse requests over a large crowd. What is boils down to…if you do not stand in the streets supporting a cause for illegal citizens or someone breaking the law, you couldnt possibly get caught up in the reprocussions.


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