- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

LOS ANGELES Teachers, labor organizers and women's activists planned protests at the Democratic National Convention today, a day after hundreds of demonstrators threw rocks and fired slingshots at police, who answered with pepper spray, rubber bullets and finally a charge on horseback.
The second day of demonstrations were to take protesters again to Staples Center, the site of the four-day convention.
The clash last night after a free concert by the anti-authoritarian band Rage Against the Machine came as President Clinton addressed the Democratic National Convention. Six people were arrested and at least four were injured as police chased the crowd from a fenced protest zone outside Staples Center.
The Los Angeles Police Department, which had kept a high profile on downtown streets throughout the day, defended its actions and vowed that any further trouble would be met with an equally strong response.
"Today, tomorrow or the next day, or the next day, or the next week, our response will be exactly the same," Cmdr. David Kalish, a police spokesman, told reporters gathered on a downtown street littered with chunks of asphalt and concrete, sticks and smashed plastic water bottles.
The trouble began when about 300 of the approximately 8,000 people who had gathered for the concert at an officially designated protest site across from the convention hall began throwing pieces of concrete, water bottles and other debris over the 12-foot fence at police.
As the confrontation unfolded, speeches by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and President Clinton continued inside the Staples Center, with delegates unaware of the trouble outside.
Police ordered the group to disperse and, after waiting for what Kalish said was 20 minutes, they moved in, firing rubber bullets and beanbags from shotguns and swinging batons from horseback.
"When everyone started running, that's when they started shooting," said Carlos Salazar, 21, of Los Angeles.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California accused the police of overreacting.
"Unnecessary brutality," Mr. Jackson called it.
Kalish disagreed.
"Some will view it as we waited too long. Some will view it as we moved in too quickly," he said. But he insisted the action had been "a measured, strategic response."
Police had been criticized for reacting too slowly and not protecting people and property when hundreds went on a rampage outside the Staples Center in June, smashing store windows, vandalizing cars and setting fires after the Los Angeles Lakers won the National Basketball Association championship.
But when police reacted to Monday's trouble, some bystanders complained that they were caught in the middle. Among them was Tracy Robson, a public school teacher hit in the right shoulder with a rubber bullet.
"We were walking away with our hands in the air, our backs to police, saying, 'Please don't shoot,' when I was hit," she said as a fire crew bandaged her back.
Ted Hayes, a Los Angeles homeless activist, was struck in the chest after police opened fire with their crowd-dispersing projectiles. Hayes, who was knocked to the ground, was taken by ambulance to nearby California Hospital Medical Center where he remained hospitalized Tuesday morning in stable condition.
Before the trouble, the mood had been festive, with the Fire Department spraying a cooling shower of water over an appreciative crowd on what had been a relentlessly hot day.
Earlier in the day, police arrested 13 protesters who refused to clear an intersection during a march.


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