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19 LAPD Officers to Face Punishment for 'May Day Melee'

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LAPD officers were notably "relaxed" on May Day '08; not so much in '07 | Photo by Tom Andrews/LAist

Over one year after the May 1st protest turned violent in MacArthur park (earning the events of that day in 2007 the moniker "May Day Melee"), 19 members of the LAPD stand apart from the crowd, as they now face punishment for their role in the incident.

Multiple civilians were injured, as hundreds of videos and photos attest, as officers opted to combat the crowds by "swinging batons and firing foam rubber bullets at journalists and immigrant rights protesters," reports the LA Times. In fact, according to the Daily News, in addition to the hundreds of people injured, "protesters filed more than 240 claims against the city," following the protest. Now 17 officers and two sergeants--"but no high-ranking officials," notes the Daily News--have been called out and face undisclosed punishments. The Times explains that "under department rules, the penalties can range from a relatively minor official reprimand to termination."

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The actions of the 19 LAPD personnel is being labeled "misconduct," however some believe the department is being too generous in regards to who is being singled out and to what extent. The exclusion of higher-ups has eyebrows being raised, and the issue of "individual accountability and remediation" brought to the forefront. The Times quotes Mayor Villaraigosa as responding to the announcement of the pending punishment and upcoming Board of Rights hearings each officer is entitled to as follows: "The people of Los Angeles are looking for responsibility and accountability and really expect it."

The fact that only lower-ranked individuals are being scrutinized not only skips over the issue of properly examining those who give commands and support the officers in their charge, but also the fact that the disciplinary action largely stems from the fact that the actions of the LAPD were so well-documented on video, forcing them to be held accountable when, for the most part, their actions go unwitnessed.

The outcome of the hearings could take weeks or months, and the hearings are "closed to the public," explains the Times. At the very least, this past May Day did not find either massive, unprecedented crowds or LAPD officers engaged in misconduct; the ultimate price of their 2007 actions is still being calculated.

Previously on LAist:
Bill Maher's thoughts on the LAPD during May Day '07
Photo Essay: May Day 2007 March Downtown
Video: A blogger captures people's reactions to May Day/LAPD
May Day 2008: The Logistics
Photo Essay: May Day 2008, the LAPD are Relaxed

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