LAPD at It Again: Beatings of Protestors and Journalists Caught on Tape

| Thu May 3, 2007 4:08 PM EDT

This May Day, immigrants again rallied in Los Angeles. Though not as well attended as last year's national news-making rallies in L.A. and Chicago, the L.A. event drew tens of thousands of participants. The event was peaceful—until the end, when police tried to clear out a city park after having a few bottles thrown at them (8 officers were treated for minor injuries on the scene).

I saw this story yesterday, but decided against blogging it because the video clip made the hubbub look pretty tame. But apparently the clip I saw was misleading. The police "wielded batons and fired 240 'less-than-lethal' rounds at demonstrators and reporters" In the process, they injured 10 people—including 7 reporters who were covering, rather than participating in, the incident.

The LAPD is like one big cautionary tale for insensitivity. The officers had told everyone to clear the park—in English only. Seriously? In Los Angeles, at a rally for Latino immigrants? And here's what the cops did to reporters:

[KPCC reporter Patricia] Nazario said she was walking away from riot police when she was hit in the back.

Wearing a press pass and holding a microphone, she turned around and told the officer, "Why did you hit me? I'm moving. I'm a reporter," Nazario recalled.

Then the officer hit her on the left leg, she said, knocking her to the ground and sending her cellphone flying.

"I was shocked, trying to scramble to my feet," she said. "At that point, I just started crying…. I just felt totally vulnerable."

Pedro Sevcec was anchoring the evening news for Telemundo when he saw the riot police moving slowly toward the news crews.

…Police knocked over monitors and lights and hit reporters and camera operators with batons, he said.

Sevcec said police hit him three times and pointed a riot gun at his face before pushing him out of the park.

The best thing those in power have going in this country is that the middle class really likes to believe that life is fair and that authority operates with equanimity. Most members of the media share that bias. Making them feel under attack is a huge strategic mistake: When a reporter is beaten to the ground, that reporter is going to get up radicalized—and pissed off.

L.A. news crews won the right to cover public protests even when police declare it an unlawful assembly as part of a lawsuit brought on behalf of a handful of journalists who were assaulted by the L.A.P.D. while covering the 2000 Democratic National Convention in L.A.

These guys never learn!

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