LA Preps for May Day Protests

“Special Order 40 is the mandate of this department. …That is how I will police this city"

Massive crowds are expected in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday for the May Day workers and immigration rally. And, Chief Charlie Beck wanted to make something clear.

"Because of the ongoing issues in Arizona, I wanted to make something perfectly clear," Beck told the LA Times. "Special Order 40 is the mandate of this department. …That is how I will police this city as long as I am the chief of police."

Special Order 40 is the agency's policy that prohibits officers from initiating contact with an individual with the sole intent of determining whether that person is in the country legally. Officers still alert immigration officials if a suspect is a gang member who has been previously deported, or if a suspect is arrested for a felony or multiple misdemeanors.

Special Order 40 has been around since 1979. It withstood a 2007 legal challenge by officers who support checking immigrant status.

Police are expecting as many as 100,000 protesters for the march, the Los Angeles Times reported. Street closures will began at about 5:45 a.m. Broadway and cross streets will close at about 10 a.m.

Arizona's new law that allows police to ask people on the street for proof of their immigrations status has energized some protestors, LA Weekly reported.

Two Los Angeles City Council members called Tuesday for an economic boycott to protest the Arizona law.

"It's important that the second-largest city in the country respond to a legislative act that, in essence, promotes persecution and racial profiling of a group of people that make up a large number of this country's citizenry," Councilman Ed Reyes said.

"More than half of the folks living in Los Angeles are Latino, and for us to do nothing is unacceptable," he said. "For us to not to take heed to this action, which essentially is promoting this concept that every state can establish their own federal immigration laws, is just wrong and dangerous."

The resolution introduced by Reyes and Councilwoman Janice Hahn calls for the city of Los Angeles to "refrain from conducting business with the state of Arizona including participating in any conventions or other business that requires city resources, unless SB 1070 (Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhood Acts") is repealed."

On Thursday, the mayor voiced his support for the plan.

In Costa Mesa, Mayor Allan Mansoor called for a "good, calm dialogue" about the issue as he advocated Wednesday for another crackdown. Mansoor offered few details, focusing on broader plans for new policies that would involve local enforcement of federal immigration laws. His goal is  to foster discussions about how city officials can, for example, check the immigration status of workers in Costa Mesa businesses and how police officers can tighten up standards for checking the identification of drivers cited for  minor offenses, such as speeding.

When Mansoor proposed training Costa Mesa police to enforce federal  immigration laws in 2005, it led to stormy City Council meetings with  protesters picketing outside City Hall and angry exchanges inside.


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Beck also said there will not be a repeat of the violence that marred May Day protests in 2007. In 2007, police in riot gear marched through MacArthur Park during a similar May Day rally, knocking down protestors, innocents and reporters alike. The city paid nearly $13 million to settle lawsuits, and several officers were disciplined.

Beck said re-trained officers, re-assigned command staff and a different approach will keep potential clashes to a minimum.

"It's inconceivable to me that our officers would not respond to this event appropriately. They're well trained and they're well led," said Beck.

Students Protest at USC

On Thursday at USC, there was a very small sample of what International Workers' Day will be like on May 1.

Students and others displayed signs and chanted their discontent about the new law. Organizers say the law has galvanized them and their cause.

"I really believe the numbers are going be very strong. Yes, most definitely," said protestor Billy Vela.

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