- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES About two dozen protesters yesterday launched a feeble attempt to block the entrance to the California Federal Bank Building, while animal rights activists opposed to the fur trade demonstrated in front of clothing stores.
Police arrested about 45 protesters outside the Democratic National Convention. But compared with Monday night's street fights between demonstrators and policemen, yesterday was relatively quiet.
Los Angeles Police Department officers strolled through a morning rally for local bus drivers in MacArthur Park with little fanfare, although they continued to surround the march that followed, riot gear at the ready.
Helicopters still whirred over downtown, and sirens were heard often.
The arrest total for Monday's clashes was 19, including one charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
The demonstrations, which seem to blur at some points as participants carry signs for different issues regardless of the focus of the protest, cover myriad issues, from globalization to police brutality to the environment.
Protesters yesterday discussed their encounters with the law and took some mental notes: Rubber bullets hurt, pepper spray stings and these 2,000 police assigned to the dozens of protest groups will be aggressive.
"This really gives us an idea of what we are in for," said Tyson Robichaud, 22, one of the hundreds of demonstrators who help run a makeshift co-op about two miles from the Staples Center, where the convention is being held.
"There's kind of a progression of intensity now, but it's not directly related to that police action. But we now know what to plan for."
Jason Berkman sat yesterday morning on the floor of the co-op and prepared medical supplies for another day. His supplies included vinegar to soothe the sting of gas and bandages to cover the welts and cuts caused by pepper spray paint balls and rubber bullets.
"We're still working on peaceful, nonviolent protests," said Mr. Berkman, who lives in Pasadena. The Monday melee was caused by a handful of agitators, he said.
"Which can happen, and throwing objects at the police is unacceptable," he said. "But it is still unacceptable for police to fire pepper spray at people from close range. It's a dispersal tool, not a weapon."
Monday's fighting outside the Staples Center began around 9 p.m. following a 40-minute free concert by left-wing rock band Rage Against the Machine.
Police attempted to disperse the crowd of about 7,000 before delegates and the media began leaving the center.
When the crowd failed to react in what police felt was a timely manner, officers began charging the crowd on horseback and in battalion lines.
Plastic water bottles and chunks of concrete were hurled at the officers during the ensuing scuffles.
Hundreds of protesters and one police officer were injured, none seriously.
LAPD Cmdr. David Kadish said his officers were reacting to a situation that was started by several obstinate people.
"Some will view it as we waited too long. Some will view it as we moved in too quickly," he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California yesterday condemned the police for what the group called "incredibly poor judgment" and "gross violations of individuals' civil rights."
Today, a group protesting the justice system will march on LAPD headquarters.

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