Thousands rally in L.A. on May Day

MACARTHUR PARK Over the past year, the LAPD's 9,000 officers have gone through extensive re-training in crowd control. Last year, officers drew harsh criticism after clashing with demonstrators, firing rubber bullets and hitting some demonstrators with batons.

The LAPD said its mission this year was one of facilitation, not confrontation.

"We fully anticipate that there are going to be people that are going to come to this particular event that perhaps want to be disruptive, and the officers will have to deal with those individuals, but we're going to deal with them in an isolated manner," said LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Hillman.

More than 300 claims were filed against the police following last year's protest, alleging excessive force and other mistreatment.

The LAPD says it now has a clear reporting structure for officers and has been working closely with event organizers to make sure the rally remains peaceful.

"We facilitate First Amendment rights of all individuals that come participate in this international workers day," said Deputy Chief Hillman.

"The message is that immigrants have rights. Workers have rights. This is what America was built on, the backs of all the great communities," said Ed Reyes from the L.A. City Council.

The atmosphere on Olympic Boulevard was exuberant and festive as marchers gathered.

"We absolutely need to march, passivity doesn't work. We're here to express our free speech rights," said marcher Manuel Alderete.

"I'm a fourth generation citizen, but yet I've been called an illegal. This is not about laws. This is about race," Alderete said.

LAPD Chief William Bratton said last year's trouble in Macarthur Park was his department's failure, calling it a screwup, and he doesn't want a repeat.

The LAPD used new technology this year like a device to communicate with demonstrators in a number of different languages. Lack of communication was a big factor that led to last year's mess, according to police.

The Los Angeles Unified School District urged students to stay in class and urged schools to set up forums during lunch time to allow students to talk about immigration reform. Hundreds of students reportedly attended rallies, down significantly from previous years.

Traffic disrupted

Traffic troubles were expected during downtown Thursday's events. Marchers were staged at 7th Street and Parkview at MacArthur Park, Olympic and Broadway, and Alameda and Central. They converged at 1st Street and Broadway for a rally at 4 p.m.

Many downtown streets will be closed beginning at 10:30 a.m. to accommodate the marchers. Service disruptions to the DASH downtown and Commuter Express bus service will begin at 11 a.m.

Streets will be closed between Cesar Chavez Avenue and Pico Boulevard and from Alameda Street to Hoover. Some closures will begin at about 10:30 a.m., with others scheduled to be shut down as the marches begin in the early afternoon.

For the most part, Commuter Express routes will not change, although riders may face major delays in the late afternoon. Route 534 will be rerouted to Temple Street, with stops at Grand Avenue, Hill, Broadway and Main streets.

DASH Downtown routes will have the following route changes:

Metro bus service on Broadway will be interrupted beginning at 2 p.m. Buses that operate on Broadway will instead use either Main or Los Angeles streets to the east or Grand Avenue and Olive Street to the west. The affected bus lines are 2, 4, 30, 31, 40, 42, 45, 46, 740 and 745.

"Metro understands the inconvenience that these events cause for our patrons and ask that they plan their daily trips accordingly and allow for extra travel time," according to a statement from the transit agency.

Metro's rail lines will operate on normal schedules.

LADOT's Web site at trafficinfo.lacity.org will be updated hourly with current bus information. Information on Metro bus services can be found online at www.metro.net or by calling (800) COMMUTE (800-266-6883).

City News Service contributed to this report

 

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