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by Brendan McGuigan
Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2000 at 11:02 PM
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At approximately 2:30pm, Tuesday the 15th, 43 people were arrested on Grand Street between 7th and 6th. Protestors formed on either side of the police line, and were steadily pushed back to the intersections, where they were repeatedly dispersed by a massive police presence.
errorA group of Animal Rights activists were arrested today on Grand Street between 7th and 6th, after marching for various animal related causes. Among those arrested was a National Lawyers Guild legal observer.
Shortly thereafter, people began assembling in protest to their arrest, demanding legal council be allowed to see them, and requesting to be told the charges they were being held under. These protestors were pushed back in a steadily expanding police line, until approximately 3:00pm, when one group of protestors reached the 7th street crosswalk, and the other group reached the 6th street crosswalk.
At this point it became a faceoff between police lines (13 officers in the main line on 7th, with 12 officers behind them, and numerous officers mingling amongst them) and protestors, who began chanting for various causes, and on occasion taunting the police.
At one point, a delegate for the DNC made a fairly rousing speech in the midst of the assembled protestors, reinforcing the decision to fight police violence with peaceful protest, and calling for anyone with strong views to explain them to him, that he might bring their message inside the convention hall to be discussed. He still obviously felt that Democratic fervor, however, responding to someone's cry about the oppression of the Police State with a quip about Los Angeles' Republican mayor.
At 3:27pm, protestors were informed via megaphone that their assembly was illegal, and that anyone not outside the crosswalk within three minutes would be arrested. As soon as the crosswalks were clear, protestors were asked to leave the sidewalks as well, in either an easterly or westerly direction. It was made clear that anyone not outside of the immediate vicinity (press and legal included), would be arrested.
At this point I left to the east, looping the block to see what the situation was like on 6th street, and if perhaps I could catch a view of the Animal Rights activists being detained.
The scene at 6th was very much the same as that on 7th, with about 26 riot police forming a line, which they were just pushing back to the crosswalk. All those present were out of the street, save for the random photographer, so no threats were made about arrest. I had quite a memorable conversation with an officer Johnson, who responded to my peaceful and non-confrontational questions with insults and slights, even smirking when a bulldozer drove past and mentioning, "That's what they'll be transporting the arrestees in. It's a bit medieval, but it's the fastest way. And you can quote me on that." Apparently longing for the carefree days of Rampart Division.
Listening to the police radios, we heard reports of reinforcements being sent to Pershing Square, so we headed to see what was happening there, and didn't return to Grand until about 4:15, when we went to 7th, where protestors had regrouped after being dispersed at 3:30.
Things went well until 4:31, when Sgt. Whittier once again informed the protestors that they were engaged in an unlawful assembly, and asked them to disperse giving an entire five minutes this time. A dispersal squad of 16 cars showed up at this time, bringing the total on 7th to 50 on the north end, 15 on the east end, 30 on the west, 6 on the south, and an additional 12 slightly north of the intersection. All this for what I would estimate was around 40 protestors.
This time the dispersal was much more abstract, and the attorneys present were given no clear answer when they asked how far away they were being asked to disperse. One officer responded to my query with, "You can assemble around that tree, how's that?" Which he apparently forgot later, when the line continued pushing us down 7th.
At 4:45, one prisoner bus full of people left, followed soon after by a second bus with much fewer people in it. The activists were (according to one officer I questioned) being charged with conspiricy to commit vandalism, and there have been various rumors that they may have knocked over a sign during their march, provoking a police response.
Later, while passing the Furrier's (sp?) shop that apparently the vandalism (or conspiricy to commit?) occured, we saw four officers questioning either an employee or the owner of that shop, who was saying something about damage done to the security gate. When a camera-man we were with asked whether he could film them, the officer responded, saying that he would actually prefer it if we would leave entirely, since he was trying to conduct a serious investigation.
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