American flags were front and center, and the police presence was minimal, as marchers headed toward City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. Officials estimated the crowd at around 80,000 people by noon. Demonstrators protested the new Arizona law directing local police to enforce federal immigration law. Some people at the rally wore T-shirts that asked "Do I look illegal?" and called for a boycott of Arizona.
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Cops: LA immigration march peaceful
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Updated at 3:45 p.m. | Permalink
Chief Beck hails community, police partnership for "peaceful" May Day in LA
As the last of the marchers trickled by Los Angeles Police Department headquarters at around 3 p.m., Chief Charlie Beck described the day’s event as “peaceful.” He credited the relative calm of the day to the partnership that organizers and the LAPD shared in the months leading up to the event.
‘We haven’t had any issues whatsoever, so far,” Beck said. “We’re all working toward a common goal, and everybody expressed their opinions in a lawful way.”
Having faced criticism over the way LAPD handled an immigrant’s rights rally at MacArthur Park in 2007, Beck said the police’s presence at today’s gathering may not turn up any missteps that will need to be addressed.
In an attempt not to send the wrong message and keep with the rally’s peaceful intentions, Beck said that heavily armed SWAT officers were notably absent from the crowd in order “to reflect the mood of the crowd. That’s our goal. We don’t want to become the issue.”
Beck said that as the one responsible for policing all of L.A. he “doesn’t really care who your father is or where they were born.”
“All the law enforcement leaders I talk to want to be partners with their communities, whether they are immigrant communities or long-established communities.”
- Julio Morales
Updated at 2:35 p.m. | Permalink
Rally brings in slew of young protesters
Saturday’s May Day rally in downtown L.A. is the third that Ariadna Camacho, 17, and her sister Rosa Romano, 11, have attended in the past four years. They came with a group of nearly 100 people from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Santa Clarita.
Rosa Romano, 11, was one of many younger protesters at Saturday's May Day march in Los Angeles (Photo: Julio Morales)
“There was four bus-loads of us,” said Camacho.
The children of Mexican immigrant parents, Camacho said her parents often remind them of how much better life is living in America. She said her parents left Mexico to escape a life of poverty and a corrupt government.
“In America we have more rights and freedoms,” Camacho said. “But, some laws discriminate and are trying to take our rights away.”
One of five siblings, she said her father makes good money detailing cars that appear in television commercials. Her mother works in a restaurant.
Camacho said she is planning on following her older sister to college and become a nurse. She said if she wasn’t at the rally she would be doing something with her church.
- Julio Morales
Updated at 2:26 p.m. | Permalink
Photo gallery of the May Day march
Updated at 12:55 p.m. | Permalink
Priest calls the Arizona law unjust
Among Saturday's demonstrators was Father Geoffrey Farrow. Speaking out on behalf of people is nothing new to Farrow. An ordained priest since 1985, he was suspended from the priesthood in October 2008 after he issued a public statement against Proposition 8.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Farrow said.
Father Geoffrey Farrow was one of many protesters participating in Saturday's May Day rally and march in Los Angeles. (Photo: Julio Morales)
He said that the Arizona law governor Jan Brewer signed also stripped the domestic partnership rights away from same-sex couples and denied benefits to their kids.
Farrow called the Arizona law unjust, and added “if you want to stop immigration, have the IRS seize the assets of businesses. It’s a one-sided law.”
Farrow said he is currently working in L.A. on behalf of the GLBT community.
- Julio Morales
Updated at 12:26 p.m. | Permalink
Police: No arrests; no incidents
The immigration protest crowd has been "very orderly" all morning, and there have been no incidents or arrests, according to Sgt. Frank Preciado, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.
Updated at 12:20 p.m. | Permalink
Crowd estimate - 80,000 at noon
A stream of people made their way to the immigrant rights march downtown on Saturday at noon, many coming through feeder streets around Broadway and Temple Street. Others got off of buses and filed out of subway tunnels to the carnival-like event.
Crowd estimates were put at some 80,000 by noon, according to Los Angeles Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Bowman.
Horns blew. American flags were waved.
Signs read, "Obama what happened to your promise?"
Crowds booed at a sign of Obama with a Hitler mustache.
Some people wore a bar code saying, "100 percent immigrant."
People could get text message alerts that warned to wear sunscreen and to drink lots of water. The system helped reunite families with lost children.
- Carrie Kahn
Updated at 11:43 a.m. | Permalink
'Do I look illegal?'
T-shirts to make their point. These unidentified folks were among the people at the May Day rallies in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday, May 1, 2010. (Photo: Christopher Sprinkle)
Updated at 11:09 a.m. | Permalink
'I'm a great believer of MLK philosophy'
Jose Molina, 41, originally from Honduras, participated in the May Day rally Saturday, May 1, 2010 in downtown Los Angeles. (Photo: Corey Moore/KPCC)
A diverse group of people, young and old alike, gathered for the May Day rally in downtown Los Angeles. Many volunteered to help get people information about how to become United States citizens and what their rights are.
Earlier, Jose Molina, 41, originally from Honduras, said he was at the rally because he's a great believer of MLK philosophy.
"Everyone is created equal so I'm really happy that I'm here."
- Corey Moore
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Hundreds gather 2 hours early for the downtown LA rally
Hundreds of people arrived at the corner of Olympic Boulevard and Broadway two hours before the marches were scheduled to begin, and vendors did a brisk business in U.S. flags and patriotic T-shirts.
"I've been here (in the U.S.) since I was three," said Jose Luis, a Los Angeles teenager standing on a corner with his friend, both wearing American flags like superhero capes. Luis said in years past his friend had marched in similar rallies waving a Mexican flag, but "I realize it's about supporting this country.
"We still have love for (Mexico), but we're in L.A. now," he said.
Vendors reported that sales of flags and hats with the stars and stripes dominated the few Mexican flags also for sale. One seller, Kate Munoz, said Spanish-language newscasts have carried interviews stressing that the protest march should look like a sea of red, white and blue.
"We heard on TV that you have to wear a white shirt and carry American flags," she said.
As hundreds assembled on a street closed to autos a mile south of City Hall, a stakebed truck was festooned with a sign directed at Washington. In Spanish, it said "Obama hear us. We will die in the struggle.''
It also displayed a quote from Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata, proclaiming it better to die than to die kneeling.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was labeled "the next Hitler'' and "the new face of racism'' on a sign carried by Long Beach City College student Cindy Lugo. "I think what (Brewer is) doing in Arizona is similar to what Hitler did in Germany,'' she said.
Other protests were more humorous, including a pair of plastic space creatures in a baby stroller wearing a sign asking that their alien status be made legal.
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