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L.A. immigration rally expected to draw large crowd, cause traffic gridlock

May 1, 2010 |  7:56 am


Demonstrators were beginning to trickle into downtown L.A. this morning for what is expected to be a large immigration right rally heightened by the crackdown on illegal immigration in Arizona.

Immigrations rights organizers, politicians and union and religious leaders -- including Cardinal Roger Mahony -- are expected to be on hand.

With as many as 100,000 immigrant rights activists expected to participate in the annual May Day rally, Los Angeles police are reminding people about street closures and potential traffic problems.

The rally is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Olympic Boulevard and Broadway, police said. Marchers will walk north on Broadway toward City Hall.

Streets near the assembly area will close as early as 5:45 a.m., while Broadway and cross streets will close at 10 a.m., police said. The designated assembly area along Olympic Boulevard includes the area between Hill and Main streets; on Broadway, it includes the area between 11th Street and Olympic Boulevard. 

At the end of the march there will be a rally area on Broadway between 1st and Temple streets, police said. Streets in the rally area will remain closed until 6 p.m.

A huge turnout is expected this year because of the controversy over the recent passage of a new law in Arizona that allows police to check the legal status of people they suspect are illegal migrants. It also makes it a crime to hire day laborers off the street.

Activists are also upset that immigration reform legislation has been stalled in Congress.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his department expects a large but peaceful rally.

“We have estimates as high as 100,000 people,” he said. “That is a reasonable estimate. We are prepared to police that effectively.” 

Authorities say downtown workers, residents and visitors who want to avoid traffic jams are encouraged to use mass transit, such as Metro’s Red, Blue, and Gold Lines or Metrolink, to travel into and out of downtown. 

For the first time, the LAPD will be providing text messages directly from its command post to protesters, residents and those interested in updates about the day’s unfolding events. The messages can be received on text-capable phone and those interested should text MAYDAY to 888-777 to sign up.

-- Richard Winton

(Photo by Irfan Khan of the Los Angeles Times)