LAPD Practices New Crowd-Control Techniques at Rally

The LAPD arrested ten pro-immigrant activists who took over a busy intersection in Downtown L.A. today. It was one of the first times police officers used new crowd-control techniques adopted after the May Day confrontation between police and protestors at MacArthur Park. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reports.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Protestors with the March 25th Coalition blocked traffic in front of the federal detention center at Alameda and Aliso streets. Coalition organizer Martha Rojas said recent immigration raids must be stopped, and she said the group planned the arrests of its own members to call attention to the raids.

Martha Rojas: They just volunteer; they go ahead and volunteer. They need not to have no tickets, no felonies, nothing on their record so they can get arrested.

Guzman-Lopez: There's a sea change at the LAPD, Rojas said, compared to the department's use of force last May. Back then, officers used batons and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of thousands during an immigration march and rally at MacArthur Park. Police in a helicopter hovering over the protest issued a dispersal order – but only in English.

At this small rally, things were different. The LAPD issued another dispersal order, but this time twice, in English and Spanish. Officers warned activists to clear the intersection within five minutes or they'd be arrested.

LAPD Central Area Patrol Captain Michelle Veenstra said the lesson from MacArthur Park is restraint in certain situations.

Michelle Veenstra: Luckily for us that everyone was very cooperative so we didn't have to use any of the techniques to actually remove people from the street to be arrested. We just made sure to make it a point to be very clear what was going on and to gain their cooperation in it also.

Guzman-Lopez: Organizers of this protest say they plan a much larger pro-immigrant march on Saturday afternoon in Downtown L.A. And they don't plan on engaging in any civil disobedience.