- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A day of mostly calm immigration rallies across the nation ended with a clash in Los Angeles, where officers fired rubber bullets and used batons against demonstrators. The police chief said officers may have used inappropriate force and promised a review.

Several people, including about a dozen officers, were hurt during skirmishes at MacArthur Park west of downtown late Tuesday. About 10 people were taken to hospitals, authorities said. None of the injuries was thought to be serious.

At least one person was arrested, Officer Mike Lopez said late Tuesday.

May Day marches in Los Angeles brought out about 25,000 people, only a fraction of the 650,000 who rallied last year. Turnout nationwide was also light compared with that of a year ago.

Organizers said fear about raids and frustration that the marches haven’t pushed Congress to pass reform kept many people at home. They said those who did march felt a sense of urgency to keep immigration reform from being overshadowed by the 2008 presidential elections.

The clash at MacArthur Park started after 6 p.m. when police tried to disperse demonstrators who had moved off the sidewalk into the street. Authorities said several people threw rocks and bottles at officers, who fired rubber bullets and used batons to push the crowd back onto the sidewalk.

Police “started moving in and forcing them out of the park, people with children, strollers,” said Angela Sambrano, director of the Central American Resource Center.

Maria Elena Durazo, the executive secretary-treasurer at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the trouble was instigated by “a group of anarchists, not associated with the rally.” She also criticized the police response, saying the rubber bullets were fired on a peaceful crowd with little warning.

Police Chief William Bratton said “certain elements of the crowd” started the disturbance, but the “vast, vast majority of the people who were here were behaving appropriately.”

Late Tuesday, he promised an investigation to “determine if the use of force was appropriate.”

In an interview early yesterday with KNX-AM (1170), Chief Bratton said, “Some of what I’ve seen as chief of the department does not look appropriate.”

Spanish-language TV station Telemundo said one of its reporters and three camera operators had been injured and taken to the hospital by police. Fox 11 aired video of a station camerawoman apparently being struck by a baton-wielding police officer in riot gear.

The Radio and Television News Association of Southern California called for an investigation into the “violent treatment of journalists.”

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was in El Salvadorfor a trade mission, said the incident was “a most unfortunate end to a peaceful day.”

Though fewer in number, protesters marched in cities from Miami to Detroit to San Antonio. Many of those waving flags, chanting and carrying hand-painted signs said they were frustrated by what they see as little progress on immigration reform.

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