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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 05:36 GMT 06:36 UK
LA police reassigned over clashes
By David Willis
BBC News, Los Angeles

May Day march in Los Angeles
The May Day marchers in LA called for greater rights for immigrants
A senior policeman in Los Angeles has been demoted and his deputy and about 60 other officers have been reassigned after an inquiry into May Day clashes.

Last week protesters and journalists were injured when police fired some 140 rubber bullets to break up the crowd.

The rally had been peaceful until the clashes, which the police department said were prompted by agitators throwing rocks and bottles at officers.

But TV footage showed a police officer pushing people who were walking away.

Widespread outrage over the pictures of the incident prompted the city's mayor to cut short an overseas visit and return to the city.

Internal inquiry

News footage showed a police officer pushing a TV camerawoman to the ground and shoving people who were walking away from the officers.

Officials have denied the police deliberately targeted immigrants or civil rights activists.

Los Angeles police chief William Bratton
Bratton has said an order to disperse may not have been clear
But police chief William Bratton has acknowledged that an order for protesters to disperse may not have been understood because it was issued in English when most of those attending the rally spoke only Spanish.

Nonetheless, the highest-ranking officer at the scene of the rally has been demoted and placed on house leave pending the outcome of an internal inquiry.

His second-in-charge, a veteran of almost 40 years on the force, has been demoted and about 60 highly-trained riot control officers who were involved in the clashes have been reassigned.

The Los Angeles Police Department is no stranger to scandal.

Sixteen years ago, officers were videotaped beating an unarmed black man, Rodney King.

Their subsequent acquittal prompted three days of riots, in which more than 50 people died.

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