Protesters Targeting DNC
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN, Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The protesters who swarmed recent world trade and banking summits in Seattle and Washington now are targeting the Democratic
Some demonstration planners, hoping to rally 30,000 protesters, are promising a carnival-like convergence of activists for the Aug. 14-17 convention.
``There will be people with giant puppets, there'll be street theater, folks in funny costumes and carrying giant banners,'' said organizer Shawn McDougal.
But there could be more disruptive actions as well. For example, groups such as the Berkeley-based Ruckus Society plan July training camps to teach elaborate
protest tactics including creating virtually impenetrable human blockades by having protesters link arms through plastic pipes.
Los Angeles police Lt. Horace Frank said officers have met with some activist groups to discuss ways to keep the protests peaceful. The department expects some,
however, to seek attention by breaking windows or provoking confrontations.
``If people decide to break the law, we will have to take appropriate action,'' Frank said.
Some police officials will travel to Philadelphia to monitor expected protests during the Republican convention two weeks before the Democrats gather in Los
Law enforcement officials have designated an area for protesters in a vacant lot two blocks north of the convention site, the downtown Staples Center.
Protest organizers say that won't do, and they plan legal action in an effort to gain access to the streets surrounding the convention center.
Ben Austin, spokesman for the city's convention host committee, said the protest zone will still give demonstrators access to the delegates and media.
``We didn't stick them in Siberia,'' he said.
But protest organizer McDougal said, ``The protest pit is just a way to quell the public voice. They're telling us, 'You protest when we say, where we say.'''
Some of the protest groups accuse the Democratic Party of failing to fight exploitation of workers in an era of corporate globalization.
``We expect many different means of calling attention to the corporate domination of our political system,'' McDougal said.
Convention organizers note that several labor unions and environmental groups that were influential in the demonstrations at economic meetings in Seattle last fall and
Washington this spring have allied with Vice President Al Gore, the all-but-sure Democratic presidential nominee.
``For that reason, many members of those communities will be with us at both the convention and general election,'' said Peter Ragone, a spokesman for the
Democratic National Convention Committee.
Plenty of other groups, however, plan to use the event to promote their message.
Nearly 200 activist groups have united under an umbrella coalition known as the Mobilization to Protest the Democratic National Convention 2000 - or D2K
Network for short.
Scores of ``affinity groups'' represented by the coalition oppose matters as diverse as sexism, racism, homophobia, environmental destruction, the death penalty,
U.S. immigration policies and police corruption.
Many of the groups say the Internet has become an invaluable, low-cost recruitment tool, enabling them to update activists through Web sites, e-mail newsletters and
digital sign-up sheets.
Protesters are asked not to injure anyone, D2K organizers said. That message does not, however, extend to property.
``Equating property on the same level as people is part of the problem,'' said McDougal, who also is a program coordinator for the American Friends Service
Committee, the U.S. social service arm of the Quaker religious movement.
``We don't want anyone to get hurt, but 'nonviolence' doesn't mean you sit there and don't confront what you think is wrong.''