Dick and I spent a good deal of the day in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. The photos shown here were taken with my phone. I was particularly amazed to see the LAPD, the Los Angeles County Sheriffs and privately contracted security out en masse. (see photo at bottom of this post)
We took the Metro to Pershing Square. As we departed the train, it felt as if we had just entered a police state. On the upper and lower platforms of the underground station, several Los Angeles Sheriffs Department officers were asking for evidence that riders had paid their fares. This in and of itself is not unusual. What was unusual was the number of officers and the fact that the officers seemed to be dictating when passengers should get on the train with at least one telling passengers not to board the train until all passengers had exited the arriving train. I thought this was unusual — being a regular passenger, I’ve never observed a need for passengers to be told when to get on or off a train. There was very much a militarized zone feeling.
As we left the subway climbing to the surface at Pershing Square, we were amazed at the overwhelming presence of LAPD, LA Country Sheriff, and private security — not to mention the helicopters. I’d say there were several hundred officers surrounding Pershing Square and a couple dozen in the park itself.
The interactive map below — provided by The Media Consortium — shows the cities and communities across the country that hosted May Day events. In several of those cities there were arrests. The map provides information about each of the events as well as the number of arrests. Los Angeles, for example had ten conformed arrests.
According to Wikipedia, May Day, which is the first day of May, is a national holiday celebrated in over 80 countries as International Workers Day. Its origins can be traced back to Pre-Christian Europe. Today, the holiday has evolved to be a day to celebrate the international labor movement.
With the Occupy movement taking center stage over the past year and their involvement in the May Day activities around the country, the increased police presence should not have surprised me. But from my vantage point, there were no incidents and nothing to warrant what appeared to be excessive — and no doubt expensive.
At one point Dick and I and a couple of other journalists decided to grab a bite to eat. As we attempted to pass the line of police officers at 5th & Hill, we were told that we could not go north on Hill. They were not allowing pedestrians access to Hill. I later learned that a few dozens anarchists were marching towards Pershing Square from the direction of 4th. It is rumored that the LAPD attempted to block their passage as well but the anarchists eventually made their way to Pershing Square and the police began to allow the free movement of pedestrians.
In Los Angeles, a city heavily populated with immigrant, May Day has become a day when many immigrants rights activists and progressives of all stripes rally for greater equality for all.
Publisher, LA Progressive
Copyright 2012 LA Progressive