2007 MacArthur Park rallies

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

2007 MacArthur Park rallies
DateMay 1, 2007
Caused byPolice attempt to disperse rally
Parties to the civil conflict
Casualties and losses
36 injured
5 arrests
7-15 injured

The 2007 MacArthur Park rallies were two May Day rallies demanding amnesty for undocumented immigrants[1][2] which occurred on May 1, 2007, at MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles.

When the protest overflowed onto city streets, police drove motorcycles through the crowd, then ordered the crowd to disperse. Some people began throwing plastic bottles and rocks at officers. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department then used batons and rubber bullets in a manner later found by the LAPD's own investigation, as well as by the courts, to be excessive. After community mobilization, pressure from the Mayor, and an extensive internal review, LAPD Chief William Bratton apologized, the commanding officer was demoted, seventeen other officers faced penalties, and the LAPD paid more than $13 million in damages.[3]


Organizers obtained the necessary permits to hold a rally at MacArthur Park on May 1, 2007 until 21:00. At about 17:15 a few protesters began blocking the street, which the rally permit expressly prohibited. The police made numerous requests for the protesters to move from the street and abide by the conditions of the permit.[citation needed] The protesters defied the police requests and began gathering in larger numbers on the street. When the attempts by police to move the crowd failed, police commanders declared the gathering an unlawful assembly. The formal order for the crowd to disperse was given in English, being broadcast from a police helicopter circling the park, from police cars, and from hand-held megaphones. A significant portion of the crowd, many who spoke and understood only Spanish, ignored this order and did not disperse. Police officers formed a line and advanced slowly to clear the area. The officers proceeded about 50 feet at a time, allowing those complying with the dispersal order to retreat. Most protesters left the area at this point, however, some that had stayed began to throw rocks and bottles at the advancing officers.[4]

Altogether, the estimated 600 police officers fired 146 foam-rubber projectiles.[5] 27 marchers and 9 members of the media were injured, 5 people were arrested,[6] and at least 50 civilians filed complaints with the LAPD regarding mistreatment by officers. It is unclear, however, that most of the injuries were as a result of direct police contact or as a result of incidental crowd contact (trampling, pushing, falling, etc.).[7] Seven to fifteen police officers were injured.[4][6]

The incident received considerable attention from news media because several reporters were also pushed and injured, notably Christina Gonzalez from L.A.'s Fox 11 News (KTTV), and Telemundo's National Evening Broadcaster, Pedro Sevcec. CBS 2/KCAL 9 (KCBS-TV, KCAL-TV) reporter Mark Coogan and his cameraman Carl Stein were also accosted. Stein was struck on the ribs by LAPD batons.[8] Patricia Nazario, a reporter for KPCC, was beaten in the ribs and back, before being struck over the head with a baton. ABC 7 (KABC-TV) reporter Sid Garcia was hit by a rubber bullet, but it ricocheted off him.[9] Patti Ballaz, a camerawoman for KTTV who was injured, filed a claim for unspecified damages against the city and the police department.[10]

Response by government officials[edit]

At a press conference later in the day, Police Chief William J. Bratton indicated that an investigation was underway to "determine if the use of force was appropriate," going on to state that "the vast majority of people who were [at MacArthur Park] were behaving appropriately."[2][11] Bratton indicated he may ask the FBI to investigate the chain of events.[12]

At the time of the events, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was on a trip to El Salvador. He cut his trip short three days later, in order to personally oversee the investigation of the chain of events,[13] and asked Police Chief Bratton to oversee a "complete and comprehensive review of this incident, including deployment, tactics, and use of force."[2] At a Sunday morning mass at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on May 6, Villaraigosa said "I come today with a heavy heart ... Nobody, nobody should be victimized in a way we saw women, children and families victimized just a few days ago."[14]

Los Angeles city council member Herb Wesson, whose district includes neighborhoods near MacArthur Park, criticized the police response by comparing it to beating of civil rights leaders in the South in the 1960s. He praised Bratton's response, though, saying "I'm proud that the chief said quickly that some inappropriate actions took place."[15] Fabian Núñez, Speaker of the California Assembly whose district includes MacArthur Park where the events took place, condemned the actions of the police by saying "To say we are outraged is an understatement ... We want those responsible in the highest levels of the LAPD to pay consequences."[10] Robert Baker, president of the Police union, responded, calling Wesson's and Núñez's words "police bashing that erroneously insinuates racial bias".[16]


Four separate investigations were created to investigate the incident,[17] one of them being a special task force set up by city council president Eric Garcetti. The task force is composed of five councilmembers, and is co-chaired by Los Angeles city councilmembers Ed Reyes and Jack Weiss.[18][19] The FBI also investigated the incidents for civil rights violations.[6]

On May 17, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a request with U.S. District Judge Gary A. Feess to look into whether the incident at MacArthur Park violated a 2001 consent decree which was a result of the Rampart scandal. If the judge finds the LAPD in violation of the decree, federal oversight of the LAPD could be extended beyond the current deadline of 2009.[7]

On May 29, Chief Bratton presented preliminary findings of an internal police investigation to the civilian police commission, and on May 30 he presented the preliminary findings to the Los Angeles City Council. According to Bratton, the main reasons for the mêlée were "a command and control breakdown," [which] began at the planning stages and dominoed throughout the event itself".[20]

On October 9, five months after the incident, the LAPD released the results of an internal investigation.[21]

Community response[edit]

On May 17, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 people marched in protest of the events that took place on May 1. The march started at a church 10 blocks west of MacArthur Park with a "town hall meeting", and ended at MacArthur Park. The march was peaceful, without a single arrest, and the town hall meeting featured speakers such as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez,[1][17] who later marched with the protesters. Police Chief William Bratton was also present at the march and town hall meeting.[22]


On May 7, 2007, Chief William J. Bratton announced a departmental reorganization. Cayler "Lee" Carter, who was a deputy chief and the highest-ranking official at scene, was demoted to commander and assigned home duty.[23] On May 17, Carter announced his resignation from the LAPD, effective June 6.[24] In his May 7 announcement, Bratton also announced that Carter's deputy, Louis Gray, would be reassigned to the operations bureau, and that about 60 officers who were involved in the incident would be taken off the street, pending the outcome of the investigations.[23][25]

On May 9, the Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network filed a class-action suit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the city.[26] In November 2008, it was disclosed that the city was in negotiations and was willing to pay as much as $13 million to settle the lawsuits.[27]

On May 30, Bratton announced the creation of a new Incident Management & Training Bureau, and assigned Deputy Chief Michael Hillmann to head the newly created bureau.[6]

Over a year later, on July 8, 2008, the LAPD announced "that 17 officers and two sergeants from the department's elite Metropolitan Division should be punished for their roles in [the incident]".[28] The recommended punishment was not publicized, and could range from a simple reprimand to termination. Critics decried the announcement, saying that only officers "whose actions were captured on video" were recommended for punishment.


  1. ^ a b Villaroman, Rene (May 22, 2007). "3,000 at MacArthur Park for Peaceful March". Asian Journal Online. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved 23 May 2007.
  2. ^ a b c Watanabe, Teresa; Vara-Orta, Francisco (May 2, 2007). "Small turnout, big questions". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 6, 2007.
  3. ^ Maeve Reston & Joel Rubin (February 5, 2009). "Los Angeles to pay $13 million to settle May Day melee lawsuits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Jack Dunphy (May 3, 2007). "May Day Madness". National Review Online. Archived from the original on May 17, 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2007.
  5. ^ Patrick McGreevy & Richard Winton (May 27, 2007). "Chief to explain police actions at rally". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "LAPD gets new tactics boss in wake of rally clash controversy". Associated Press. May 30, 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  7. ^ a b McGreevy, Patrick (May 18, 2007). "Probe sought of LAPD's May 1 use of force". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 20, 2007.
  8. ^ "Latest Videos « CBS Los Angeles".
  9. ^ "Police to Review Clash at LA Rally". AP. May 2, 2007. Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Andrew Glazer (May 4, 2007). "LA Mayor Condemns Rally Violence". Associated Press. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  11. ^ "Bratton: Officers' Conduct May Be Inappropriate". KTLA. May 2, 2007. Archived from the original on May 4, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2007.
  12. ^ "Chief: FBI May Investigate LAPD Conduct At Rally". May 3, 2007. Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2007.
  13. ^ "Mayor Villaraigosa Cuts Short Mexico Trip". May 4, 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2007.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ Bob Pool (May 7, 2007). "A contrite mayor goes to the park". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  15. ^ Patrick McGreevy (May 2, 2007). "Bratton oversees LAPD inquiry at critical time". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 11 May 2007.
  16. ^ "Saturday In The Park Is Quiet As Protesters Are No-Shows". May 5, 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2007.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ a b "MacArthur Park Peaceful Immigration Rally". Associated Press. May 19, 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2007.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Special Task Force To Hear Public Comment On May Day Police Action". KNBC (the local affiliate of NBC). May 14, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  19. ^ "Shouts, Jeers At Public Meeting Over May Day Police Action". KNBC (the local affiliate of NBC). May 15, 2007. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 16, 2007.
  20. ^ Patrick McGreevy & Richard Winton (May 30, 2007). "Bratton issues report on mêlée". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  21. ^ Winton, Richard; Helfand, Duke (October 10, 2007). "LAPD takes blame for park melee". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  22. ^ Uranga, Rachel (May 17, 2007). "Marchers rally at L.A. park as LAPD faces a legal challenge". Press Telegram. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  23. ^ a b Lisa Hernandez (May 8, 2007). "Bratton to Suggest Replacement for Demoted Official". Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2007.
  24. ^ "Police Official Retires After May Day Clash". Associated Press. May 17, 2007. Archived from the original on October 7, 2007. Retrieved May 17, 2007.
  25. ^ Geis, Sonya (May 8, 2007). "Top LAPD Officers Disciplined for Use of Force at Rally". Washington Post. Retrieved May 24, 2007.
  26. ^ "Lawsuits Mount Over May Day Police Action In MacArthur Park". Archived from the original on May 13, 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2007.
  27. ^ Rubin, Joel (November 20, 2008). "L.A. to pay nearly $13 million over May Day melee, sources say". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  28. ^ Richard Winton; Anna Gorman & Scott Glover (July 9, 2008). "Officers in melee to face censure". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 10, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2008.

Further reading[edit]