The LA City Council agreed to pay nearly $13 million to people injured or mistreated in a May Day melee in MacArthur Park, bringing to more than $30 million the money spent over the last two weeks to settle lawsuits alleging LAPD misconduct.
For the LAPD, the $12.85-million payout — covering most of the claims by immigration demonstrators and bystanders injured May 1, 2007, in MacArthur Park — has a few strings attached.
Under the settlement, the department must submit to court oversight of its crowd control procedures.
The approved settlement will resolve a class action lawsuit and more than half a dozen individual lawsuits in federal court. It accounts for a large portion of the more than 300 May Day claims against the city.
The allegations of police mistreatment and excessive force resulted from clashes in MacArthur Park as an immigration march wound down. Officers from the LAPD’s Metro Division used batons and fired rubber bullets to disperse what was a predominantly peaceful gathering. Officials said the confrontations were prompted by a group of agitators who threw bottles and other objects at police.
Under the terms of the agreement, the way the LAPD responds to large crowds is fixed. It leaves the department considerable discretion, but nonetheless places limits on when police can break up a gathering and when they can use force on crowds.
Batons, for example, can be used to push — but not strike — protesters who refuse a police order to disperse. Less-lethal projectiles, such as rubber bullets and bean bags, cannot be used on a peaceful crowd that is retreating, and police helicopters must not disrupt speeches and marches by flying too low.
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