Hundreds of demonstrators, including a disabled veteran active in the Occupy movement, converged on the Van Nuys Government Center before joining thousands of Angelenos downtown in city-wide May Day rallies, the themes for which ranged from workers’ rights to education to equality for the gay and transgender communities. Patrick Healy reports from downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 1, 2012.
Thousands of demonstrators participated in May Day rallies across the city Tuesday, when education, immigration rights and rights for the gay and transgender communitities were cited as reasons calling Angelenos to Downtown streets.
Related: May Day Protests Snarl Traffic
Police escorts moved the main march up Broadway Tuesday afternoon while satellite marches were staged across the city.
A few hundred stopped at the Van Nuys Government Center, among them a disabled veteran active in the Occupy movement.
"Money and profits are being prioritized over people's lives," he said.
That group travelled on public transit to meet up with the swarms of demonstrators Downtown, the Civic Center being their ultimate destination.
A police officer was injured downtown and several demonstrators were taken into custody at a protest near Los Angeles International Airport, where a rally was part of an ongoing battle between unions and airport employers.
Wheelchair attendant Nancy Orantes said she pays $88 a week for healthcare for her and her 1-year-old son.
"We’re trying to save up for a house but we can’t because it’s so expensive and they keep taking it out of my check and, it’s like, there’s no way I can save enough," Orantes said.
Maurice Matthews said the only way workers can get a political voice is to organize in solidarity.
"We're tired of being pushed down and stomped on by the 1 percent," Maurice said.
The airport company claims workers voted to decertify the union, but workers at Tueday's rally say it was a fraudulent vote.
"They’ve been writing workers up because they’ve been coming together talking about the health and safety conditions at the airport. They’ve been changing people’s schedules from an AM shift to a PM shift," said protester Alexandra Valles. "It’s just retaliation; it’s flat out union busting."
Protesters gathered across Century Boulevard by the entrance to the airport, and the LAPD issued an order to disperse at about 1:45 p.m. Several protestors were voluntarily taken into custody a few minutes later.
Airport police had said travelers should consider leaving 45 minutes early to account for possible delays because of protests on Century Boulevard and near the Tom Bradley Terminal, where Democratic Congresswoman Janice Hahn joined demonstrators taking their message inside airport walls.
Motorists heading to LAX on westbound Century Boulevard were diverted north on Airport Boulevard, then west on 96th Street to north Vicksburg Street and into the terminal area.
Though noisy and traffic-snarling, the LAX demonstrations did not appear to disrupt air travel.
Downtown LA was expected to be the main rallying point for the May Day events. Some 2,000 LAPD officers had prepared to deploy at a staging area in Elysian Park early Tuesday. And, in suppport of the city, Los Angeles County had activated its Emergency Operations Center.
"We have a heavy deployment so we can anticipate any problems if they arise," said LAPD Officer Karen Rayner said earlier on Tuesday.
Incidents occured at locations among several across the region where union members, workers, immigrant-rights activists and others are participating in May Day rallies that involve themes ranging from better-paying jobs to changes in immigration laws.
A female officer was hit by a skateboard after an interaction with a protester at Fourth and Hill streets downtown, Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andy Smith said. The officer was taken to a local hospital and is in good condition.
The suspect remains outstanding, Smith said. No other injuries have been reported.
"Four Winds" Rally to Converge on Downtown
Demonstrators from Occupy L.A., the Youth Justice Coalition and Rise Up L.A. were set to hold a "May 1 Four Winds/General Strike," with events beginning at several locations before participants meet downtown.
The South Wind caravan will start at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson, the West Wind at Wilshire Boulevard and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, the North Wind at Panorama High School in the San Fernando Valley, and the East Wind at Cesar Chavez and Atlantic Avenue in Monterey Park.
The South Wind caravan will be joined by a "feeder march'' organized by Rise Up L.A. It will start at Florence and Normandie, the flashpoint of the riots that devastated the city 20 years ago this week.
At about noon, protesters gathered at 41st Street and Central Avenue, then headed to Figueroa Street and Exposition Boulevard before staging a 2:30 p.m. rally at Sixth and Main streets. A larger rally was planned for 7 p.m. at Pershing Square.
Immigrant Rights March
Groups including the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles planned to take part in a May Day march for jobs, education and "peace in the world," with participants gathering at Olympic and Broadway and marching north on Broadway. A rally had been planned for 3:30 p.m. at Broadway and First Street.
Commuters in the downtown area, however, could find also themselves dealing with traffic disruptions. According to the city's Emergency Management Department, the following streets are expected to be closed during the marches:
Metro had warned its customers that while it plans to offer regular service, a host of bus lines could be delayed or detoured.
The bus lines subject to disruption were 2, 4, 10, 14, 16, 316, 18, 20, 28, 30, 33, 40, 42, 45, 51, 52, 53, 55, 60, 66, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 83, 84, 68, 90, 91, 92, 94, 96, 439, 442, 460, 487, 489, 720, 728, 730, 733, 740, 745, 760, 794 and 910.