Villaraigosa returning early

With the LAPD yet again giving the city a black eye, Mayor Villaraigosa cut short his trip to Latin America and will return to Los Angeles Friday morning. He broke the news during a live interview tonight on Televisa, then his office followed with a statement. "The heart of our mission is complete," Villaraigosa said in the statement. "It's time to come home, roll up our sleeves and take on the tough issues raised by the May 1 incident in MacArthur Park." The mayor has scheduled a 3 pm news conference at City Hall. This morning's Times ran a piece questioning the timing of the mayor's nine-day trade trip to El Salvador and Mexico, which began the same day as Monday's May 1 march and rally. Meanwhile, the FBI opened an investigation into the LAPD's violent sweep through the park and Chief Bratton seemed to turn up his comments that the police screwed up.

"There were mistakes made here all the way up and down the line. I want to make that clear," Bratton said. "Was there lack of supervision? Was there lack of leadership? What were (the line officers) directed to do?"


Bratton offered a more detailed and pointed critique of the police actions, particularly those involving Telemundo anchor Pedro Sevcec, who was broadcasting from under a canopy. He was pushed to the ground while on live television as police shoved through.

"Here you have a tent clearly (for the) news media," Bratton said. "(The anchor) wears a suit and tie and there is clearly cameras ... and the knocking over of cameras in the tent, that behavior is not under any circumstances justified."

He also said that he was troubled by reports that police used force on women and children who had gone to the park to play.

"The idea that officers would be firing -- some of these devices send out five or six projectiles with one shot -- that is a concern," Bratton said.

Riot officers who moved into MacArthur Park fired 240 non-lethal projectiles. Let's hope that at least some of them were fired at actual bad guys. Meanwhile, Fox 11 camera operator Patricia Ballaz has scheduled a 10 am news conference to announce the filing of a claim against the city for her injuries. LAT, KPCC

Also: The blogger at HighwayScribery recalls covering the Justice for Janitors campaign in 1990 when the LAPD rioted in Century City:

Another mindless “sweep” with truncheon waving meatheads ensued. It didn’t matter who you were; young, old, pregnant, pastor, journalist or janitor. You were in their way and you had been told to move, constitutional rights to assembly be damned.

One pregnant women lost her child. A 70-year old female Salvadoran poet had her arm broken, and even Conway Collis, a member of the State Board of Equalization at the time, got stomped on. Rotten publicity ensued, Century City management caved the next day, and the union got its contract.

Cost the city $23 million in settlements, he says.

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