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Thousands take to the streets outside Democratic convention

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Thousands of demonstrators representing a kaleidoscope of causes marched to the site of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, where a rock concert crowd swelled their ranks inside the fenced-in designated protest area.

After the concert, police said, a handful of demonstrators taunted the officers and threw what appeared to be batteries, bottles and other objects. Police responded by firing small canisters of what appeared to be pepper gas. The Associated Press reported that police also fired rubber bullets before officers on horseback herded the protesters to the far end of the protest area. There was at least one injury and some arrests.

Most of the rock fans and protesters stayed at the concert site about 100 yards from the convention hall, with several hundred police in full riot gear standing by outside the chain link fence. The concert ended, and the disturbance began, about the time Hillary Rodham Clinton finished speaking and President Clinton began his address to the convention.

Some protesters defy police

Two young men climbed to the top of the fence surrounding the concert site and defiantly waved black flags in front of police on the other side. They continued to wave their flags even after apparently being hit in the face with pepper spray. One of the men repeatedly doused his eyes from bottles of water given to him by people in the crowd.

When electricity to the concert stage was shut off, the crowd began to chant, "Leave the power on." Some protesters set a U.S. flag on fire while others carried a U.S. flag upside down.

A police representative then told the crowd, in English and Spanish, to disperse immediately or they would be arrested.

"Please cooperate with us and leave the area peacefully now," he said.

Officers on horseback drove most in the crowd out, but several sat on the ground defiantly and were taken away.

Some protesters videotaped police actions, and some officers videotaped the protesters.

Some of the protesters wore gas masks; others wrapped bandannas over their noses and masks. Several set posters ablaze, but the fires burned out quickly.

The concert featured the band Rage Against the Machine, which has a profanity-sprinkled Web site railing against the two-party system.

The protest area, the size of a medium-sized city block, was jammed with fans and sign-waving protesters espousing everything from the Green Party candidacy of Ralph Nader to the Socialist Workers Party and something called "Billionaires Against Bush and Gore" as the evening session of the convention got under way.

Earlier protests more peaceful

Earlier Monday, a few thousand young people had marched along streets outside the Staples Center in separate rallies to protest alleged environmental abuses and world trade.

In one Monday morning protest, hundreds of people blocked traffic within blocks of the hall. Police arrested 10 marchers who failed to move from the street when ordered to do so, taking them away in plastic handcuffs and charging them with failure to disperse. The others left of their own accord.

Police said the demonstrators, protesting an oil company's alleged plans to drill on sacred lands of a Colombian Indian reserve, sat in the street and refused to move after officers told them to.

Following the sit-down protest, about 1,000 marchers returned to Pershing Square, where they were entertained by music from singer and environmental activist Bonnie Raitt.

In the second march, this one against the World Trade Organization and corporate globalization, between 2,000 and 2,500 protesters set out from Pershing Square and marched through the city's financial district, passing the World Trade Center, Southern California Edison Co., Arco, Citibank and other large companies.

At each site, they halted and chanted, "Stop Corporate Greed" and, "Save the Trees." They then returned to Pershing Square to regroup for a later march toward the Staples Center seven blocks away.

There were no incidents of violence or lawbreaking in the march organized by the anti-World Trade Organization group Global Exchange, the Rainforest Action Network and Southern California Trade Network. But police maintained a heavy presence of uniformed officers wearing helmets and face masks alongside the marchers and blocking select intersections.

The 10 arrests in the other protest happened just before the convention was gaveled to order and raised to 24 -- at that time -- the total number of convention-related arrests since Saturday.

In both protests, the marchers represented a coalition of causes, many of which share a dislike for international corporations and world trade.

"The fact is, we really think that the system is rigged, and we can't be fully heard on the convention floor alone, so we really have no choice but to raise our voice outside," said Lenore Hinkey, of Global Exchange.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
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Monday, August 14, 2000


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