By Yong B. Chavez
[UPDATE: In a press conference, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discussed accountability measures taken by LAPD following the May Day clash. He said: "We are not going to shift responsibility down the chain of command. Accountability begins at the top. What happened on May 1 was wrong, and we are taking immediate action to address it."
Also, LAPD chief William Bratton reassigned two high-ranking police commanders for their role in overseeing the violent police response to the rally.]
Ricky Morales, a Los Angeles-based Filipino freelance videographer for various media companies (including The Filipino Channel), was among those hurt during the recent immigration rally clash in Los Angeles.
Morales said that, without any provocation, he was pushed and hit by policemen as he was shooting footage for a news report.
The May 1 rally was organized by immigration reform proponents who are mostly Latinos but which also included Filipino groups such as Alliance (AJLPP), People's CORE, Pilipino Workers Center, GABRIELA Network, Samahang Pilipino, Pesante-USA, Ecumenical Fellowship, United Health Workers-West, and Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV).
According to Art Garcia, People's Core coordinator, "there were at least 100 of us who joined the march from Historic Filipinotown to MacArhur Park" where the event occurred.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton has apologized for the policemen's actions after the rally turned into a melee which left several reporters and rally attendees injured.
The Metropolitan Division officers could be seen on videos attacking attendees - even reporters in so-called safety zones - with batons and foam bullets.
The clash at MacArthur Park started when the police tried to disperse demonstrators and several people at the rally threw rocks and bottles at officers.
But it does not excuse the subsequent attacks done by the police, said Bratton.
He had ordered about 60 officers "off the streets" while the case is being investigated.
As to why the incident occurred at all, Garcia has a theory.
"I believe that anti-immigrant reactionary forces are trying to discourage immigrant rights mobilization," he said.
(Photo courtesy of Ricky Morales and Art Garcia)