LAPD curtails right of free assembly for immigrants and youth; delegate disgust cited Between 8:30 and 9 p.m., the LAPD made good on the threat that Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine relayed to the crowd near the beginning of their free concert outside the Staples Center: they disrupted the alleged "illegal action" in the protest zone on the pretext that people were standing next to the security fence. Channels Seven, Nine, and Eleven are reporting that one or two bonfires among the hundreds-strong crowd prompted the police to sweep the area and begin firing projectiles at the crowd; their reporters on the ground, however, have noted that the fires began only after the police began to disperse the crowd. The LAPD on horseback, motorcycles and in armored formation drove the protesters up Olympic to the 101 underpass just as President Clinton finished his fanciful paean to the American dream and delegates began to file out of the Staples Center. So-called "bean bags," soft bags filled with hard pellets designed to knock people down, were fired at protesters, downing a prominent LA acitivist on behalf of the homeless. In addition, "stingers," or projectiles fired at the pavement that unleash a number of BB-style pellets at ankle level in order to inflict pain and perhaps to incapacitate subjects, were also fired according to a Channel Eleven expert in police tactics. Flash bangs and perhaps tear gas were also used against the mostly young and heavily Latino protesters. The police action came not more than an hour after RATM concluded their defiant if low-decibel benefit concert on behalf of the anti-death penalty movement and the other causes brought to the fore by the many speeches and marches occurring throughout the day. Before and during the concert, the dismay of the elegantly dressed and cell phone-toting delegates at the presence of the unwashed masses crashing their party was palpable. Delegates wandered into the fenced-in protest area, apparently under the impression that they could walk directly to the Staples Center, only to mill about in confusion and yell out for their companions upon learning that they'd gone the wrong way. It should be fairly obvious to anyone that was there that the kids on the fence weren't hurting anybody, and that their presence was using as a cynical excuse to clear the area for the comfort of the prople that really matter. Doubtless some high-rolling Democratic delegate complained to the Convention organizers, who in turn instructed the LAPD to cleanse the streets of the young, diverse and peaceful crowd that assembled to exercise their First Amendment rights of protest and free expression. No one should be surprised that the special interests and party loyalists who would turn up for such an event would not want to mingle with many of their victims just after Zack and United Farm Workers Representatives just finished expressing their dissent and calling for justice.
Joe R. Golowka JoeG at ieee.org
"Candidates say "vote for me, and I will do so-and-so for you." Few believe them, but more important, a different process is unthinkable: that in their unions, political clubs, and other popular organizations people should formulate their own plans and projects and put forth candidates to represent them. Even more unthinkable is that the general public should have a voice in decisions about investment, production, the character of work, and other basic aspects of life. The minimal conditions for functioning democracy have been removed far beyond thought, a remarkable victory of the doctrinal system." -- Noam Chomsky