Both the police and some of the immigration protesters reported things started getting ugly when a group of masked anarchists began taunting and pelting the police. There were claims that they numbered up to a hundred and used sophisticated skirmishing tactics.
Police Chief William J. Bratton initially said that as many as 100 anarchists touched off Tuesday's clash by throwing rocks and bottles at officers. He later described them more generally as "the agitators or the anarchists as they are more commonly called."But the same article concedes that the organized anarchist presence in LA has fallen dramatically from a high in 2000 and along with other sources pointed out that so-called anarchists are often used as an excuse by the authorities to justify brutal suppression tactics. Other witnesses said the numbers of putative 'black bloc' masked protesters were much smaller than reported and that it was the police who initiated the conflict.
Bratton said news video showed that they were "more organized than we are in some respects," as they approached the police in triangle formation, backed by a line of projectile tossers.
Dana Ward, a political psychology professor at Pitzer College and an anarchist, said Tuesday's turmoil does not sound like the work of those active in the Southern California movement.
"There would be no advantage to starting trouble at a march dealing with immigration," said Ward, who maintains an archive on the history and theory of anarchism. "It would just bring bad publicity."
He also said the police often use the anarchist label as a "propaganda tool."
Ward placed the L.A. anarchist census at a few hundred to a couple of thousand, the vast majority of them devoted to nonviolence.