Soldoll@SPAMinreach.com soldoll
Fri Aug 18 16:25:30 MDT 2000

----- Original Message -----
From: "L.A. Labor News" <News at LALabor.org>
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2000 2:30 PM

> by Jim Smith
> L.A. Labor News
> Five days of massive, spirited marches and rallies in the streets of Los
> Angeles were capped Thursday afternoon as several thousand Latinos,
> African-Americans, Asians and whites marched against sweatshops and for
> immigrant rights. At the same time, Democratic Party convention delegates
> were grinning-and-bearing another speech by their anointed leader, Albert
> Gore of Tennessee.
> (Day-to-day reports, commentary, photos and videos of the Democratic
> Convention protests can be found on L.A. Labor News <www.LALabor.org>.
> The site can also be accessed through Znet at <www.zmag.org>.)
> The march, began in the Garment District and made its way past downtown
> sweatshops along Broadway and 8th streets where garment workers waved and
> cheered as they poked their heads out of upper-story factory windows. At
> the rally site - which is across the street from the convention center
> and behind the ³Berlin Wall,² a blocks-long 13-foot-high concrete and
> chain link fence - they were joined by another large march, against U.S.
> Navy bombing on the island of Vieques in Puerto Rico. Both march included
> substantial numbers, perhaps a majority, of people of color.
> The rally included a spirited and political performance by Michael Franti
> and Spearhead. Gore delegate Tom Hayden skipped the acceptance speech to
> attend the rally and concert. After the concert, several thousand rallied
> at the Twin Towers jail to show their support for the prisoners,
> including the nearly 200 protesters who had been arrested.
> Building on the mass movement that exploded into the public consciousness
> last November in Seattle, this week¹s contribution from Los Angeles was
> significant and of lasting value. While the focus on corporate, or
> neoliberal, globalism is still at the heart of the movement, its impact
> and poor and working people - particularly those of color - was the major
> focus of many activities. Marches and rallies during the week focused on
> the prison-industial complex, abolishing the death penalty, justice for
> political prisoners including Mumia Abu-Jamal, police abuse, mass
> transit, sweatshops, immigration, women¹s rights, youth rights and
> against racism.
> Nearly all protest event planners that I spoke with considered the week¹s
> activities an overwhelming success, with the exception of the ugly daily
> police violence.
> Continuous violence against protesters, and bystanders, by the black-clad
> LAPD has written another chapter in the infamous history of one of the
> more notorious police forces in the country. An LAPD division, Ramparts,
> is already the scene of the largest police corruption scandal in U.S.
> history. Latino and African-American activists say the police tactics
> used during the protests are routine in their neighborhoods at all times.
> Police fired rubber bullets at protesters on three of the five days of
> mass marches and rallies. Demonstrators and journalists were hit with
> clubs with little or no provocation. The ACLU has announced a suit
> against the LAPD because of its violence and harassment toward
> journalists. Noted community leaders were shot with rubber bullets and/or
> physically attached, including legal observer and East L.A. activist
> Antonio Rodriguez and Miguel Contreras, L.A. County Federation of Labor
> executive officer. Contreras, a Gore delegate who did not participate in
> the protests, said that in spite of identifying himself to police after
> leaving the convention hall, Monday night, he was hit hard across the
> chest with a billy club. He reported seeing an Asian couple, who were
> tourists, being roughed up by police at the same time.
> There have been 198 arrests so far, although that figure may go higher.
> ³We are getting dozens of reports of harassment of people trying to leave
> town,² Adam Eidinger of the Midnight Special Law Collective told L.A.
> Labor News. Of the 198 arrests, only 38 people had any expectation they
> would be arrested, said Eidinger. Bails have been set as high at $10,000
> to $75,000 for minor charges including reckless driving (bike riders),
> conspiracy to commit vandalism, and blocking an entrance. The mass
> arrests are at odds with an LAPD report that property damage has been so
> minimal they are not even keeping track of it.
> Bicycle riders participating in a ³Critical Mass² ride through downtown
> on Tuesday, an effort to show an alternative form of transportation in
> auto-clogged Los Angeles, were also victimized by police. After a
> pleasant 40-minute ride during which they were followed and escorted by
> LAPD officers on bikes, the more than 200 cyclists were surrounded by
> cops from several agencies. Most of the riders were able to escape but 70
> were arrested, handcuffed and booked on reckless driving charges, which
> normally merits only a citation. Instead they were put in jail for 24
> hours. The women were subjected to repeated body cavity searches by
> jailers.
> Many believe the repression could have been much worse without aggressive
> legal pressure from the Midnight Special Law Collective and the National
> Lawyers Guild, and political pressure from L.A. Councilmember Jackie
> Goldberg, State Senator Tom Hayden, Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo and
> others. The courts generally supported the protesters rights under the
> First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
> The week of protests brought together activists from across the Los
> Angeles basin. Of the more than 200 organizations that endorsed and
> participated in the week¹s events, more than half were from L.A. Just as
> the WTO demonstrations last winter put U.S. working people and students
> on the map of world political struggle, the Democratic Convention
> protests will go a long way to changing the perception and reality of
> activism in Southern California. The Convention put the spotlight on Los
> Angeles, but the result was not the one that Mayor Richard Riordan and
> his corporate sponsors had intended.
> After this week¹s success, our movement for democracy and against
> corporate control of our lives is well positioned to move from the
> streets of L.A. into campuses, communities and unions throughout the
> country.
> -30-

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