Stinging gas sends May Day protesters fleeing

By Terry Collins

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, May 2 2012 7:50 a.m. MDT

Marchers briefly flooded the avenue and blocked traffic before police in riot gear pushed them back onto the sidewalks. The group chanted: "We are the people. We are united!"

— In San Francisco, about 200 people took over a vacant building that is owned by the local archdiocese and has been targeted for previous protests. Two men on adjacent rooftops lobbed pipes and bricks at a line of police officers.

At least six people were taken into custody as police officers in riot gear began removing protesters early Wednesday, KGO-TV reported.

Police Chief Greg Suhr told reporters he assumed some of the people inside the building were part of a group that vandalized shops, cars and a police station during a pre-May Day demonstration Monday night.

— In Chicago, about 2,000 activists marched through the city to demand immigration reform and greater protections for workers. The demonstration was largely peaceful. Half a million people rallied in Chicago in 2006 to demand immigration reform. But numbers since have plummeted to just a few thousand.

— In Los Angeles, a group that broke off from a downtown rally for immigration reform briefly skirmished with police and left an officer injured, and 10 union demonstrators were arrested for blocking an intersection near Los Angeles International airport.

The downtown splinter group of several dozen protesters surrounded a small group of police in a tense standoff. Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith told KNBC-TV that an officer was hit in the helmet by a skateboard, but she was in good condition at a hospital.

— In Atlanta, about 100 people rallied outside the state Capitol, where a law targeting illegal immigration was passed last year. They called for equal rights for all workers and an end to local-federal partnerships to enforce immigration law.

The rally was significantly smaller than last year's, which drew about 1,000 people. Organizers said turnout last year was greater, in part, because the protest was on a Sunday, rather than during the work week.

"I'm a bit disappointed, but I think this is something to be expected," said Adelina Nicholls, executive director of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, one of the main organizers of the rally.

"It's very difficult to keep a high level of excitement going," Nicholls said. "But it's not only about mobilization. It's also about organization, and we have people working every day to promote immigrant rights."

Contributing to this report were Associated Press photographer Eric Risberg in Oakland, and AP writers Samantha Gross, Colleen Long and Verena Dobnik in New York, Christina Hoag in Los Angeles, Peter Prengaman and Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Doug Glass in Minneapolis and Sophia Tareen in Chicago.

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