- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES More arrests yesterday brought the week's total to over 200 as police and protesters continued to face off, sometimes physically, in a sideshow to the Democratic National Convention.

Officers struck protesters who, according to police, moved outside the zone outside the Staples Center allotted for demonstrations.

The conflict began about 4:45 p.m. after a march from the downtown police headquarters ended outside the arena where the convention is taking place.

Officers rushed the crowd with nightsticks grasped tightly, clubbing those who did not move away. Three persons were arrested.

It was the second time this week police have used physical force to control the demonstrators. On Monday night, 19 persons were arrested after police shut down a concert outside the hall.

Observers said police herded a crowd in different directions at an intersection outside Staples. At one point, groups of people were trapped by police, said Randy Ziskin, who is part of a trained legal team that watches for illegal police actions during the protests.

"They were finally let go," Mr. Ziskin said. "But it's confusing to people who are told one thing by one group of police, then another."

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan said police were acting in a "responsible way."

"When the week is done, we can be very proud of our Police Department," the mayor said.

Earlier yesterday, 37 persons were arrested on misdemeanor charges of trespassing at the doorstep of the Rampart police station about four miles northwest of the Staples Center, where 4,300 delegates gather daily.

The 9 a.m. rally kicked off a day of demonstrations and marches targeting the justice system both locally and nationally.

The orderly crowd of around 500 marched through the streets of a largely Hispanic neighborhood as shopkeepers closed down their bodegas, beauty parlors and eateries while marchers went by.

The protesters were greeted by a contingent of police who sat on rooftops and stood two deep peering through the closed visors of their riot helmets at the front of the satellite station.

Rampart is perhaps best known for a spate of scandals involving corruption and brutality over the past few years.

A flat-bed truck hosted speakers who disparaged police. But most wanted to make sure the nightsticks, rubber bullets and pepper spray officers toted went unused.

"We are here to speak out against violence," a young man said over the makeshift public address system on the truck. "We do not wish to imitate that violence while we are here."

Those arrested listened passively, left hands raised in a conviction to their stance, as an officer read them a prepared warning.

After disregarding the warning, they were taken into the station with no incident.

The day's second demonstration, this one at the city's main police headquarters, was marked only by the vehemence of the speakers, who called the officers guarding the downtown building "pigs," and toted signs proclaiming "cops lie and they steal."

Around 3,500 people stood in the street, cheering, drinking water and chatting. One girl, well aware of the numerous television cameras, had scribbled "Hi Mom" on one arm in black magic marker. Her other arm? "Hi Dad," in red.

Their biggest foe was the heat 90-plus degrees which felled dozens of demonstrators and sent a group of medically trained protesters through the crowd with water and sun block.

The initial absence of clashes pleased Michael Novick, an organizer of the afternoon rally.

"We had hoped for 2,000 but got this," the Los Angeles schoolteacher said. "The police have been very good, and we hope they keep their forbearance."

Police say it was a small group of anarchist protesters who ignited the violence Monday night.

Police Cmdr. David Kalish said his department has watched the black-clad anarchists, who were also blamed for violent protests in Seattle last fall.

"The vast majority of the demonstrators have really been well-behaved," Cmdr. Kalish said.

He acknowledged the convention was more than half-over.

"Oh man," he said. "Just one more day."

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