MALDEF Joins National Lawyers Guild To Represent Victims of Los Angeles Police Department's Excessive Force at May 1 Immigrant Rights March

Federal Court case against City of Los Angeles seeks damages for injuries suffered by peaceful participants and prevention of future civil rights violations

May 10, 2007

LOS ANGELES, CA – MALDEF joins with National Lawyers Guild attorneys to represent thousands of peaceful participants in the May 1 immigrant rights rally at MacArthur Park. These individuals and families, largely Latino and immigrant, were subject to excessive force by members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

“This lawsuit is the only way to afford justice to the victims of this outrageous assault on Latinos calling for comprehensive immigration reform,” said Annabelle Gonzalves, MALDEF Los Angeles Regional Counsel.

The suit, filed in federal court on behalf of individuals and organizers of the May 1 march and rally, seeks damages for injuries and significant changes in the policies and practices of the LAPD. According to the complaint, LAPD officers disrupted the exercise of the First Amendment rights of rally participants by, among other things, improperly declaring an unlawful assembly, shutting down the rally prior to the expiration of its permitted time, unlawfully dispersing participants with threats and actual use of force, and not giving people sufficient time or direction to comply with the order to leave MacArthur Park.

“In addition to being drowned out by helicopter noise, the order to leave MacArthur Park was given only in English. The failure to effectively communicate the order to the largely Spanish-speaking crowd added to the chaos,” continued Gonzalves.

MALDEF is proud to co-counsel with a team of veteran civil rights litigators who have previously obtained a consent decree regarding the LAPD’s excessive force during the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. In addition, MALDEF has called upon California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. to conduct an independent investigation into the events of May 1 and the police practices that resulted in severe civil rights violations.

For all media inquiries, please contact Laura Rodriguez.

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund