Thursday, June 28, 2007

Black Americans on opposite sides of immigration debate in South LA

Confrontation kept under control. Police keep things calm as two groups of marchers on opposite sides of the immigration debate parry in South Los Angeles.

A group of 100 marchers waving American flags headed south on Crenshaw Boulevard on Saturday to protest illegal immigration and what they called its damaging effects on the black community.But they never reached the park that was their destination, and the rally turned into two tense hours of confrontation under a hot sun with counter-protesters on the opposite side of the street. Insults and epithets flew across the asphalt as hundreds of Los Angeles Police Department officers kept guard. Although some people expressed concern about another May 1 melee, in the end, police earned praise for their restraint and efforts to calm the crowd.Police defused the standoff, both sides dispersed and five people, including organizer Ted Hayes, a longtime activist for the homeless, were arrested peacefully.

The marchers, made up of black activists and Minutemen, homeless people and neighborhood residents, held a city permit for an afternoon rally at the historic Leimert Park in the Crenshaw district. Nearly 500 counter-protesters, mostly black and Latino, some with Mexican flags and others with antiwar placards, swept down the other side of Crenshaw Boulevard. They converged on the park first and blocked the original marchers from entering. Some said they had heard those marchers would include KKK members, and the counter-protesters denounced what they called racist outsiders trying to incite violence.

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