I went to do my National Lawyer's Guild legal observer thing at the anti-Sensenbrenner/King pro-immigration demonstration Saturday here in Los Angeles. It was just wonderful! Amazing! I have never ever seen so many people in one place--the march had to start early because the gathering location couldn't hold any more people. The whole length of the march from Olympic and Broadway to City Hall couldn't hold all the people who turned up, so folks marched down parallel streets.
The whole thing was peaceful, although "peaceful" doesn't begin to describe the mood. I don't know who arranged for the police to be elsewhere, but they were. A typical day of legal observing involves locating a clutch of cops and watching them, because they either go where the trouble is or cause it. But cops were nowhere in sight where I was, and we got no reports via cel phone of other trouble spots. If you read the LATimes report it doesn't even bother to say there were no arrests--there was just no trouble. Not even any fights or yelling when the crowds got too thick. Even without police trouble was possible because many marchers were high school-aged immigrants and 1st-generation USAmericans of various ethnicities, and they tend to sort into hostile ethnic gangs.
Not only was there no trouble, there were hardly any negative messages--banners all said things like "We Love America Too!" and "Immigrants Built This Country". (I did see a half-dozen self-styled anarchists but no one paid any attention to them and they looked kind of grumpy.) Most of the professional protesters were probably at the anti-war rally last week. I got the impression that every immigrant in Southern California--but nobody else--knew about this event.
In fact we could have used more cops because the crowds overflowed the closed streets and a lot of traffic got caught downtown. But the marchers did a pretty good job of managing the intersections and letting the traffic out. The marchers also picked up litter as they went along!
A very funny thing was that realtors had arranged a joint open house for all the lofts downtown, apparently unaware that the march was planned. Occasionally I would run into baffled folks with glossy maps working their way from one balloon-bedecked old building to another, but I'm sure most of the attendees never got within a half-mile. This is probably a good time to get a great price on a downtown LA loft!
There may be--just may be--hope for the US after all.