L.A. police attack journalists covering immigration rights rally

MAY 1, 2007

Patricia Nazario, KPCC
Carlos Botifoll, Telemundo
Christina Gonzalez, KTTV
Patti Ballaz, KTTV
Carl Stein, KCAL


During a rally for immigrant rights, Los Angeles police attacked journalists with batons, according to news reports. Police Chief William J. Bratton said he would investigate the conduct of police, who were captured on news video using force against reporters.

Patricia Nazario, a reporter for radio station KPCC, told the Los Angeles Times that she was wearing a press pass, holding a microphone and walking away from riot police when an officer struck her in the back. She told the Times that she turned around and asked the officer: “Why did you hit me? I’m moving. I’m a reporter.” The newspaper reported that the same officer then hit her on the leg, knocking her to the ground.

Carlos Botifoll, a reporter for Telemundo, the Miami-based, Spanish-language television network, told the Times that a police officer struck him with a baton as he was waiting to begin a live broadcast.

KTTV-TV reporter Christina Gonzalez suffered a separated shoulder and camerawoman Patti Ballaz suffered a broken wrist, according to The Associated Press. KCAL-TV cameraman Carl Stein said police threw him and his camera to the ground, AP reported.

In a letter to Bratton, the Los Angeles Press Club said: “There is no excuse for these attacks which sent several news professionals to the hospital for treatment of their injuries … It’s doubtful that your officers could have mistaken news people for protesters.”

The letter continued: “Besides the investigation into the incident that you have already ordered, we urge you to take extra steps to ensure these deplorable actions against the press do not recur.”

The Press Club urged Police Chief Bratton to require “special roll calls to make it clear to every patrol officer and detective that news professionals are impartial observers who are off-limits to attack, abuse, or arrest as long as they are just doing their jobs.”