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Targeting Migrant Children in LA

by JUAN SANTOS

Even the mayor of Los Angeles admits “Nobody, nobody should be victimized in a way we saw women, children and families victimized just a few days ago.”

He was referring to the openly brutal assault by the LAPD on a peaceful rally of migrant families and their supporters on May 1 in LA’s MacArthur Park, where dozens of pigs in riot gear viciously and repeatedly fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets into a crowd of Brown families with children and babies, even before a helicopter hovered overhead announcing–in English only–that the Park must be vacated. The rally had a permit until 9 P.M. But, according to eyewitness accounts collected by the National Immigrant Solidarity Network, hundreds of cops arrived at 6, a mere hour after the event started, and, unprovoked, immediately began harassing a crowd watching Mexica/ Azteca danzantes, driving their motorcycles straight into the onlookers and sending a wedge of riot clad cops into their midst. More people gathered in the area to denounce this outrage, as waves of cops shot their way into the crowd of ten thousand nearby. The LAPD tried to blame “agitators” and “anarchists” for their attack, but this as a straight up lie.

Reporter Ernesto Arce of LA’s KPFK told Democracy Now!, “they were trying to clear the Alvarado Street for ongoing traffic, and there was a gathering, a large gathering, a circle of people that were gathered around Aztec danzantes, or pre-Columbian Mexican dancers, and they were holding a ceremony. And police on motorcade decided to forcibly break that up, and they drove their motorcycles through this crowd.”

A reporter for Telemundo said “One minute I was on live, the next minute I was running for my life. It was excessive force. They basically hit women, children, and journalists.”

Another reporter wrote, “Television news crews captured images of the police swinging their batons at an arm’s length of a frightened child who cried as he stood frozen in the chaos.

Let’s be clear. This would never happen to a gathering of white suburban families. No one would tolerate it for a moment if white babies were fired on by pigs using “less than lethal” weapons” that have been known to kill, hurling projectiles with the force of a 95 mile per hour baseball. Is a 95 mile per hour baseball “less than lethal” when hurled at an infants’s skull? If it strikes a baby’s eye? About 600 cops, including 100 from the ultra elite Metro Division, fired hundreds of rubber bullets and tear gas canisters and systematically beat Brown mothers, fathers, youth, and members of the news media with batons. Tear gas projectiles have long been known to have lethal potential. LA Times writer Ruben Salazar was killed by the LAPD with a tear gas canister during the police riot against the anti-war Chicano Moratorium as far back as 1970.

But Brown children are expendable in Los Angeles, and migrants are the new scapegoats for a nation steeped in a deep tradition of white racism.

The race equation, the hate equation, is that simple. The Conservative voice website called the families “criminals” taking to the streets, and, in an effort to justify the LAPD attack, launched a racist war of words on the children themselves ,saying “the children of illegals, who are themselves illegal (sic), do not share their parents’ work ethic or docility. The children are often lazy, are predominantly hateful, and commit crimes at rates far above the American statistical norm. Imitating the worst qualities of American blacks, they refuse to patiently work their way up the ladder of social mobility, and despise everything that America stands for. Meanwhile, they demand that everything that law-abiding Americans have worked so hard for be taken from them and given to the second-generation illegals.”

The website called the families “Thugs hiding behind children, and backs the claim with a citation from the virulently racist website VDARE:

I wonder if the plan to Boycott America also includes not giving birth to their ‘jackpot’ babies, not driving while drunk, not accepting welfare payments, not using food stamps, not dealing drugs, not murdering, stealing or raping, not attending government schools, not buying homes using government financing, not clogging our court system, not sending remittances to Mexico, not breaking our laws by being here and not insisting that we speak Spanish?

The essay concludes that white “Americans” should “begin exercising their legal right (sic) to effect citizens’ arrests of illegals.” What the Right wants is for even more intense brutality to be unleashed on the Brown community, by police and vigilantes alike. “The Americans, writes the Voice,” will need to break into march lines, make citizens’ arrests, and force policemen to choose their allegiances: To America’s laws and citizens, or to foreign criminals and their American accomplices.”

The Hate Equation is so simple and so transparent that the nation’s most brutal police chief, William Bratton, was forced to apologize- but his early efforts were apologies wre to the brutalized news media, and to the cops themselves, for “what happened” to them – not to the families who were attacked.

Bratton finally admitted, ” “I’m not going to defend the indefensible. Things were done that shouldn’t have been done.”

But the outrage over the police riot grew so intense that LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was forced to return from a trip abroad to calm the troubled waters- and prevent any potential rebellion- by promising justice at home.

But we’ve seen the kind of “justice” the system offers. Just the week before the May Day police riot, LAPD shut down a protest by the parents of children from L.A.’s Academia Semillas del Pueblo, a charter school that teaches indigenous Mexican culture–and that has been targeted by Minuteman- style racist talk jocks at Disney-owned KABC, who have claimed the children are being taught cannibalism and trained as terrorists. The school recently filed a suit against the station, noting on- air racist attacks on the children and a bomb threat against the children that resulted from the station’s hate talk.

When the children’s parents picketed peacefully on the sidewalk outside KABC, Los Angeles police moved in to “disperse” them.

A counter-demonstration against the Minutemen in Hollywood was also viciously attacked by riot squads without provocation. See the video <>here.

Bratton is the king of “zero tolerance” police tactics, a cop whose policies have led to a record of brutal police murders in both New York and LA.

But street level thuggery on the part of police, Minutemen and radio hate talkers is only the beginning. The physical targeting of Brown children only mirrors the orientation of politicians and the extreme Christian Right, which is mobilizing to strip our children of the birthright citizenship provided by the 14th Amendment, creating a permanent under- caste of not ­quite- human, non-white workers of indeterminate legal status, who will lack the rights afforded the children of the generations of white Christian colonizers who brought genocide and slavery with them when they came here. The Minutemen call these children “Anchor babies”; the Conservative Voice calls them “Second generation illegals,”–which is to say, permanent, ready made scapegoats.

In the meantime families are being split apart by the thousands by intensified ICE raids and deportations, even as children are being locked in immigration prisons in Texas.

Carol Lloyd writes in Salon,

“we are treating children of all ages (many of whom are U.S. citizens) essentially as prisoners. Initial findings by the ACLU found that the children wore prison garb, received one hour of recreation a day and no formal education, and were kept in small cells 11 to 12 hours each day without food or toys. Other complaints involve psychological abuse, including guards telling children they would be separated from their families if they didn’t stop crying. (For a great Q&A with ACLU’s Lisa Graybill, click here.)”

Protesting these attacks on families was one of the major focal points of the May Day demonstrations across the US, and in Los Angeles, the answer of the capitalist state to these protests was clear and concise–another brutal, merciless–and racist–attack on Brown parents and their children.

JUAN SANTOS is Los Angeles based writer and editor. His work can be read at The Fourth World.

 

 

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