May Day marchers move on downtown L.A. *
Update 5:25 p.m. Many of the marchers have arrived at the Civic Center for a rally that is scheduled to end before 8 p.m. When the crowd converged at First Street and Broadway, it was met with several vendors, some selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Neil Diamond’s "Coming to America" was playing over a loudspeaker.
Along the way, many expressed disappointment at the low turnout, which appears far below last year's estimated 35,000. The Associated Press, citing an LAPD official, said the crowd could have peaked at only 8,500 marchers. "That’s disappointing," said Julie Mitchell, 24, a paralegal. Despite the low turnout, Mitchell said she thinks politicians will take note. "People have to pay attention when the streets close down, when people march."
—Jesus Sanchez, with contributions from Anna Gorman
Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times
Read previous updates after the jump.
Update 4:22 p.m. Smaller crowds and friendlier police. That's apparently what is setting today’s May Day march apart from the one last year. As marchers came through, LAPD officers on loudspeakers said things such as “Hello. Welcome to your May Day march. Please move to the sidewalk.”
Over near MacArthur Park, officers were exceptionally mellow and relaxed as they chatted with the crowds. The Times' Jill Leovy noted the appearance of officers on horseback. The unit is both very popular with the community and “very effective” during a disturbance, said Lt. Ruben De La Torre of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Not everyone was thrilled with the police. A group of younger demonstrators who started on Olympic Boulevard made anti-police statements, including one who carried a poster of a pig with "187" scrawled on it. Two others carried a large sign that read: “Comprehensive immigration reform is the topic, not the beautiful behavior of the LAPD.”
—Jesus Sanchez, with contributions from Jill Leovy, Jessica Garrison and Ari Bloomekatz
Update 3:33 p.m. The marchers have converged at 5th Street and Broadway, where the route heads north to the Civic Center. The early turnout for this year's marches seem smaller than in 2007. Before the marches began, the LAPD told The Times' Joel Rubin that an estimated 3,500 people had gathered at three separate staging sites. At the police command center, live video feeds from helicopters and ground vehicles relayed images of the peaceful but relatively small crowds.
The first wave of May Day marchers converging on downtown Los Angeles began to take to the streets this afternoon. Led by a Mariachi band, a large group at a staging area on Olympic Boulevard on the southern edge of downtown started marching shortly after 2 p.m.
At another staging area near MacArthur Park, the scene of last year's melee involving police and demonstrators, a group that had only numbered about 150 people before noon had grown to several hundred. "Police are here in force, and just like last year, lots of police on horses," reports The Times' Jill Leovy.
Earlier this morning, MacArthur Park, west of downtown Los Angeles, was the site of a news conference that featured some of the people who have filed suit against the city for injuries they claim they suffered during last year's event. They wore red shirts and held a banner that read "Fuimos golpeados. Seguimos luchando" — "We were beaten. We keep fighting."
“We want this year to be peaceful,” Henry Reyes, who said he was injured last year by a motorcycle officer, told The Times' Anna Gorman. “We hope this year will be better than last year.”
Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times