By Javier Rodriguez and Isabel Rodriguez   from Lake Forest   Jan 7, 2013

Clarification. In light of the “MEET an GREET” meeting called for by the LAPD with this year’s May Day organizers and in the interest of providing factual information and a healthy political analysis to the police brass thinking, we are publishing this Edited and Amended piece originally published on Jan 27, 2012. We strongly speculate the hidden but obvious police agenda for this encounter is to gather intelligence.  

“… in LA, the history of Mayor Villaraigosa’s shock troops, the LAPD
is full of institutional human rights violations on all its citizens, and,
especially on people of color and immigrants and of course activists. On
the latter, the chapters of infiltration, spying, illegal gathering of
intelligence, conspiracies attacks and destruction of organizations and
social movements are many.

With 117 days left for the arrival of the now traditional May 1st street
marches in LA, unexpectedly, the Los Angeles Police Department convened an
early meeting held on January 18th with several key organizations and
leaders involved in the city’s immigrant rights movement and who have
officially filed for permits to march in downtown LA on May Day 2012.
Knowing the existent and the present tense relations of this movement and
the LAPD, veteran members of Occupy LA attempted to convene a meeting of
the minds with several key leaders and hopefully present a unified front on
that day, however the effort was unsuccessful.

The meeting took place at the 6th Street Police Station and it was chaired
by Commander Perez, who recently led the Nov 30, 2011 early morning assault
on the Occupy LA Liberty Camp at City Hall, that resulted in 300 arrests
and the destruction of the camp. He was accompanied by five other LAPD
officers, also representing the brass. Perez expressed the department’s
desire to get an early start and work with the May 1st organizers to ensure
a safe and successful event, with no arrests and self policing. After a few
other details he turned to the organizers and asked what their marching
plans were for that date.

Mario Brito representing SEIU and another group was first and candidly he
shared that this time labor was going at it independently and put forth
that they expected to have over 20,000 striking workers on the street in
May. Additionally besides working with the LAPD’s Labor Detail, he was also
willing to share this developments with the police detail present. He
stated thousands of SEIU workers would strike various employers on the
night of April 30th and on the next day they would join, what he hoped, to
be one unified march of all the groups, and that this sector, unofficially
was in support of the general strike called by Occupy LA. Raul Murillo and
Juan Jose Gutierrez of the Full Rights Coalition shared their plan to start
their walk on Broadway by 12 noon and essentially articulated some
political generalities. William Torres for the Women’s Coalition addressed
respect for the veterans in this movement, in particular Gutierrez and
Rodriguez and also hoped for a peaceful and harmonious day. Ron Gochez,
Martin Terrones and Carlos Montes of SCIC, emphasized an afternoon 4:00 PM
start and emphatically stated that their coalition was not taking part in
one unified march and thereafter, almost meekly, expressed their
displeasure over the fact that in 2011, they believed to have been
disrespected by the LAPD and some of the organizers present, meaning
Murillo, Gutierrez and Torres. Lastly they also stated their support for
the general strike. Victor Narro of the National Lawyers Guild addressed
the point of legal observers as monitors for the Guild. Michael Novick
informed the group of Occupy LA’s plans for a general strike and threw this
movement’s support for all the marches. Lastly, Javier Rodriguez, also of
Occupy LA as an individual and the Dec 12 Coalition stated that it was too
early to call for details, that with three and a half months to go, things
will probably evolve and that the aspirations are that the coalitions will
unify and stage one sole mobilization as we have successfully done in
certain years since 2006. Perez denied any manifestations of no respect to
SCIC as did Gutierrez. Sargent Baker outlined his participation in
coordinating these events with all the groups since 2006 and in particular,
he narrowed it to the mega march of March 25, 2006, which besides filling
all the three streets in the hearts of downtown, that is Spring, Broadway
and Hill Sts., astoundedly, it extended from City Hall, all the way to
Jefferson Blvd. “That was the biggest of them all,” Affirmed Baker.

There were other minor details that surfaced, but in sum that’s what was
unveiled. At four months prior to May Day, the brass could have sent the
coalitions a written memo outlining their concerns and proposed changes,
but apparently they were banking on the psychology of some of the leaders,
who last year were entrapped, *fueron emboscados, into a shouting brawl, of
all places, inside the police headquarters. You can be certain that the
blues must have relished that bizarre scene. * Instead Perez astutely
convened this meeting and not surprisingly, it appears it met the
expectations. Understanding that the police is foremost a political power
in LA, in terms of intelligence, the exchanges between the activists were a
bonanza of information handed to them on a silver platter. They were able
to garner, first hand, political positions, a window on the organizers
plans and strategies, and most important a view on the continued divisions
lingering in this sector. Specifically that of SCIC and the Full
Legalization coalitions, led by Gochez and Gutierrez, in which they –the
LAPD brass- played a significant role in intensifying and deepening the
split of the last two years.

The role of the police in American capitalist society is to control it
period. It is a massive national enforcement machinery, of millions of
soldiers at all levels of government, which along with the country’s armed
forces, it’s at the disposal of the elite ruling class in every city to
defend the status quo consisting primarily of an economic system that
favors profits at the expense of the well being of the overwhelming
majority of the people and a political structure that is corrupt to the
core. It is public knowledge that millionaires are the majority in
congress, which essentially makes America a plutocracy. In this case, it is
the City of Los Angeles, in a state that economists see as the 7th largest
capitalist global economy in the planet.

But here in LA, the history of Mayor Villaraigosa’s shock troops, the LAPD
is full of institutional human rights violations on all its citizens, and,
especially on people of color and immigrants and of course activists. On
the latter, the chapters of infiltration, spying, illegal gathering of
intelligence, conspiracies attacks and destruction of organizations and
social movements are many. The examples go back to the early history of the
LAPD as a corrupt repressive apparatus. From the days of Chief Parker
through Chief Gates it became a powerful paramilitary force and corrupt
institution dedicated to put down the unions community organizations. Plain
and simple, the police has always seen activists and the social movements
as threatening and as of nine eleven, breeding grounds for potential

The May 1st 2007 attack on that small three thousand people
afternoon march, which ended in McArthur Park stands a as a glaring
example. That afternoon, the blues took no prisoners, 250 men, women,
children, seniors and journalists were beaten to a pulp.
Although members of the March 25 Coalition, which on that same day of May 1
st 2007, organized the morning’s downtown demonstration attended by an
estimated 100,000 people, testified days later at a police commission hearing
revealing that on that same morning the cops had an agenda, that their
hard demeanor was different than in 2006. Additionally that on said day, the LAPD’s  role  was -and is- to guarantee the  constitutional right of the people to freedom of expression and dissent and therefore ensure a safe and peaceful political protest.

On the contrary, on that morning the police force had been pumped and from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM they carried out systematic verbal and physical provocations on the
organizers and marchers which if responded to, would have led to a violent
confrontation and the potential destruction of LA’s historic downtown.
However, we can safely speculate the massive amount of people and our tight
security held them back and so they moved to plan B, MacArthur Park.

The afternoon May Day march was sponsored by some of the same moderate
forces , MIWON, CHIRLA, the Catholic church and Cardinal Roger Mahoney and
more, like on May 1st 2006, the 2007 march was designed to blunt the more radical march and boycott called by the March 25 Coalition for the second year in a row. Their walk ended at the park and there the police found the opening when allegedly, “they were pelted with
bottles by a known group of individuals, who as far as we know, were never
arrested.” The cops used the incident to then bulldoze into the park and
ran amok over hundreds of innocent people, beating them with batons and
shooting rubber bullets. Unfortunately, upon examining the news on the
police attack that was repeated over and over worldwide, the security team
for that march is never seen, not one single instance, attempting to block
the LAPD with a line of their own or in any individual confrontations.
Predictably, neither the local prosecutors, the justice department or the
media were not able to uncover any police or government conspiracy or a
premeditated plan for the police misconduct on May 1st 2007.

The story does not end there. During those heated days, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was conveniently on an official city business trip in Latin America. Ultimately the highest ranking politician responsible for the November 30, 2011 removal of the Occupy LA camp from the City Hall Park and who has made The LAPD a key political component of his administration, supporting it right or wrong,  returned to Los Angeles soon after the police attack and directly from the airport, he was driven to the offices of CARECEN. There he met with about 60 moderate activists  and attorneys, mostly members of the MIWON Coalition that organized the afternoon 3,000 May march.

Of course, the members of the March 25 Coalition were excluded, but, on a late notice from a  media source, I hurried on and caught the last half the important gathering. I poignantly critiqued the fact that the M25C was not invited and I pointed out the facts of the LAPD’s provocations on the morning march, outlined above, and in no uncertain terms I made it clear to Antonio that it was the blues who clearly attacked the innocent people at McArthur Park. Another convenient official MIA was Chief Bratton, who at the time of the incident was lost somewhere near the airport did not resign.

The two LAPD commanders in charge on May 1st were relieved of duty and apparently were
retired from the force. The fact that none of the brass nor the troops did any prison time for this, is a gross example of the lack of justice and the existent impunity prevalent in LA as
well as most cities in America. About two years passed when the city finally
reached a 12 million plus settlement with the attorneys and the victims, except the press members, and naturally, the money came out of the city’s public funds. In other words, not a single penny emanated from the cops, Chief Bratton or the Mayor.

The Positive

Nonetheless, the Jan 18th meeting did bring out important and positive
developments for the movement such as the fact that there is support for
the general strike promoted now by Occupy LA and the recently formed
May 1stGeneral Strike Coalition. As well, there is expressed support for one unified march on May Day. As in other years, this may turn out to be a good indicator that unity is
possible. For this year also, the Occupy movement is a welcomed new entry
that portends to mobilize other sectors of society affected by the present
economic crisis. Additionally, from Brito’s enthusiastic report, it could
be interpreted that labor, finally, for the first time maybe flexing its
muscles independently and we really hope the grand announcements are
factual, but we shall see.

*Javier Rodriguez is a journalist and a media and political strategist. He recently completed his third trip thru Mexico, observing and writing about the country’s political process, the aftermath of a highly questioned presidential election, the drug war and migrants. A long time social activist, he was the initiator and directed the making of the 1.7 million historical immigration march in Los Angeles on March 25, 2006 as well as the May 1st 2006 Great American Boycott. Blog Isabel Rodriguez is a workers compensation attorney and a long time activist The two are siblings who played a prominent role in
organizing the mass street immigration movement of 1984 and 2006.*