Police, officials prepare for Saturday immigrant-rights march in downtown LA

Police and city officials were gearing up today for an immigrant-rights march that is expected to bring thousands of people to the streets of downtown Los Angeles Saturday.

The march is expected to attract even larger crowds than first thought because of the outcry over a strict law recently approved in Arizona targeting illegal immigrants recently, organizers said.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will hold an early afternoon news conference today to urge the federal government to enact immigration legislation. He will also encourage people to peacefully take part in Saturday's "May Day" rally and activities along Broadway Street in downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck will hold a news conference later today to discuss the department's planning for the event.

Rally organizers – including labor leaders and an array of immigrant-rights activists – have been urging people to attend Saturday's event as a show of support against a newly approved Arizona law that allows law enforcement authorities to inquire about people's immigration status and makes it a crime for illegal immigrants to be in the state.

The law is expected to take effect sometime this summer – 90 days after the state's Legislature adjourns.

According to Los Angeles city officials, participants in Saturday's rally are expected to begin assembling as early as 6 a.m. on Broadway between 11th Street and Olympic Boulevard. The march is expected to begin at 11 a.m., going north on Broadway and ending between First and Temple streets.

Broadway is expected to be closed in the assembly area as early as 5:45 a.m., with additional closures along the parade route beginning around 10 a.m., according to the city Transportation Department. Depending on the size of the crowd, streets will reopen somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m.

Street closures are expected in the area roughly bounded by Cesar Chavez Avenue and Pico Boulevard, between Alameda and Hoover streets.

Broadway is expected to remain closed between First and Temple streets until about 6 p.m.

"We encourage downtown workers, residents and visitors to use other transit alternatives such as Metro's Red Line, Blue Line and Gold Line or Metrolink to travel in and out of downtown on Saturday," said Department of Transportation General Manager Rita L. Robinson. "LADOT will be working closely with LAPD in order to keep downtown-area traffic moving, but we do expect significant impacts."

City officials also warned that DASH bus service will be disrupted during the event.

Metro bus service is also expected to be disrupted. Metro officials said 47 bus lines would be detoured between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m.: 2, 4, 10, 16, 18, 20, 26, 28, 30, 31, 40, 42, 45, 48, 51, 52, 53, 55, 60, 62, 66, 68, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 83, 84, 90, 91, 92, 94, 96, 439, 445, 460, 485, 487, 720, 740, 745, 760, 770, 794 and 910.

Metro officials noted that a second rally is also expected in the Westwood area, impacting bus lines 2 and 761 in that area between 6 and 10 p.m.