Protesters, police and delegates all claim success in Los Angeles
Special report: the US elections
Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles Saturday August 19, 2000
The first reactions to Al Gore's speech were positive with an instant ABC poll showing Mr Gore ahead of George W Bush by 46% to 43%. While the poll comes with the usual health warnings, it is in sharp contrast to the instant poll after the Republican convention two weeks ago which showed Mr Bush with a 17 point lead. The results of the poll were reflected by reactions both inside and outside of the convention. Joan Groener, a Democrat attending the convention as a guest, said: "He may be a little stiff but that doesn't matter. He's got what it takes to lead this country. Mr Gore's smart and, bless him, Mr Bush ain't."
Andres Torres, 82, a former social worker, said: "I voted for Roosevelt when I was in the army and I had a great admiration for Gore's father. I think that Gore has shown he is for the working man, the less-chance people. He's shown that he's head and shoulders above Bush. You've got to look into his heart: he wants to help."
Gonzalo Rojas, 21, a student from San Diego, said: "I think that Gore has shown that he represents the ideals that I was raised to respect."
As Mr Gore was receiving his ecstatic standing ovation inside the Staples Centre, around 5,000 protesters were gathered outside in the designated demonstration area as the week's protests ended. Most of the demonstrators then marched through the night under the watchful eye of a police helicopter to the Twin Towers jail in central Los Angeles where those who had been arrested during the week and not bailed were being held. A total of 194 people were arrested during the week.
A rally with the singing of Bob Marley's No Woman, No Cry and Zapatista songs took place as relatives of people who had died in custody made brief speeches. There was a minute's silence for "the brothers and sisters in Twin Towers".
Once again there were tense standoffs between the two sides and once again the demonstration passed off mostly peacefully. Earlier in the day there had been a march against sweat-shops through the city centre.
Lisa Fithian, one of the members of D2KLA, which had helped to coordinate the week's protests said: "I think it's been an amazingly successful week. People came here with the goal of bringing their messages to the delegates in a powerful and creative way and they have done that. We faced police violence and we de-escalated it." She said that the movement had learned a lot about organisation in the week and about working out future strategy.
"I think people have been showing a lot of maturity and showing that it's not just here today and gone tomorrow," Ms Fithian said. "I have heard that the delegates are talking about the protests." She said she had been disappointed in some of the media coverage: "We had a march of 20,000 strong and it got bumped from the news."
Commander David Kalish of the LAPD expressed his satisfaction with the week's events: "Generally we are quite pleased." He said that the demonstrators had been largely peaceful. It was confirmed that police "scouts" had mingled with the crowd and some had even been arrested and shot at when police opened fire on two occasions with rubber bullets. Many businesses reopened yesterday after shuttering their premises in anticipation of violence.
Inside the convention, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the lieutenant-governor of Maryland and the eldest daughter of Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in Los Angeles, acknowledged the protesters at a briefing with the foreign press.
"I'm very excited about the protests and it gives me great hope for the future," Ms Townsend said. "The worst threat to democracy is apathy and indifference. They are raising serious issues about the globalisation of the economy. We are blessed by the protests."