LAPD Issues Report on May Day Skirmish The Los Angeles Police Commission issues a report on its investigation of alleged police misconduct during the May 1 MacArthur Park pro-immigration rally and march.

LAPD Issues Report on May Day Skirmish

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

More to follow today in Los Angeles from an immigrant rally that turned violent earlier this month.

On May 1st, an LAPD riot squad used batons and fired more than 100 rounds of rubber bullets to clear McArthur Park, that's were the rally was taking place. Dozens of bystanders and members of the media got hurt. Today, the L.A. Police Commission got its first report on what's come to be known as the May Day Melee.

NPR's Carrie Kahn joins us now. And Carrie, the LAPD has been the target of multiple investigations since this incident. What's new in this report today?

KAHN: What was new was this very thorough PowerPoint presentation that the commissioners got from some high-ranking LAPD officials, including the chief, William Bratton. So we saw this PowerPoint presentation. It was a minute-by-minute representation of the police action at the May 1st rally. And the LAPD used news clips. We heard internal radio communications. We saw police surveillance videos that are captured by cameras that are there at McArthur Park where the rally took place. And there were some other video clips that they got from the Internet.

So was this wide-ranging perspective that I don't think has been pieced together or seen before, especially not those internal police radio communications. So there was a lot of emphasis on these so-called outside agitators, who according to police, numbered anywhere from 20 to 50 people in a 6,000 plus crowd of peaceful demonstrators.

And what was apparent was that the police were being pelted with all sorts of objects. There are rocks, water bottles, Coke cans. They even talked about plastic jugs filled with frozen water. And according to the officers, they were being attacked before, during and well after the march and the demonstration.

NORRIS: So in terms of police policy, the police department's reputation, its relationship with the community, how important is this new information?

KAHN: Well, it gave the police perspective. And, you know, we've never really heard that part of it. We've heard a little bit, but we have seen a lot of these repeated broadcasts on TV news, a video of police striking protestors, shooting these rubber projectiles in the crowds and members of the media being struck. So it added context. And especially those internal radio communications - you hear the police saying things like, we're being hit bad. We're being killed here. We have to keep moving. So we got a different context, and that's something, you know, the rank-and-file said they have been waiting to hear.

NORRIS: Now, prior to this, Police Chief William Bratton has been very critical of how his officers handled this incident. Do the chief have anything new to say today?

KAHN: Well, no. Not really. I was surprised to these comments, because you see this presentation and it seem to bolster police side of events, that they were under assault. But then, right after it was over, the chief comes out and he was unfazed in his criticism of the officers' actions at the rally and especially of the command staff there at McArthur Park. And he didn't minced words at all. He says there was great confusion on who was in charge. So listen to what he had to say.

Chief WILLIAM BRATTON (Los Angeles Police Department): I shall not seek to minimize that at the command levels of this department that the citizens of the city have a right to expect more than was exhibited by the command staff at that event on that day. And we do better than that.

KAHN: He said that one commander, who seem to be giving the orders was blocks away from the rally at the command center. And the two-star captain that was supposedly in charge of the whole event, and who actually walked the line of riot police as they swept through the parking, cleared everybody out, that that captain apparently did not give one order during the entire incident. Bratton says he has no explanation for what he called this chaotic breakdown at the park.

NORRIS: Chief Bratton said that the citizens should expect more from the department. What do expect from the department in terms of how they will deal with this information? What's next?

KAHN: Well, the investigation continues. There's actually at least five investigations we'll have to see. Bratton has already made some personnel changes. He demoted that two-star captain, and he says he'll have some other significant demotions or personnel changes coming soon.

NORRIS: Thank you, Carrie.

KAHN: You're welcome.

NORRIS: That was NPR's Carrie Kahn in Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.