Facebook Twitter

Democratic convention opens to protests of corporate abuses, globalization

SHARE Democratic convention opens to protests of corporate abuses, globalization

LOS ANGELES — Activists organized protests against corporate greed, oil company abuses and the lack of campaign finance reform to mark Monday's opening of the Democratic National Convention.

A parade of puppets, a march by "Billionaires for Bush (or Gore)" and a concert outside the downtown Staples Center convention hall by Rage Against the Machine, a popular rock band, were slated.

So far, the protests have been raucous but largely peaceful. No major incidents were reported in a downtown area swarming with officers — many in riot gear — who patrolled on foot, on horses, on motorcycles and in squad cars and helicopters. A 12-foot-tall fence separated the official protest area from the Staples Center.

"It's very obvious. The fence and the guard dogs. And you see a lot of cops," said Mary Ray, a first-time convention delegate from Carmel, Ind.

In Sunday's biggest protest, more than 3,500 noisy marchers demanding freedom for a death row inmate ended their demonstration outside the convention site by frolicking in a cooling shower of water, courtesy of the Fire Department.

The midday protest in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, sentenced to die for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981, began in Pershing Square and went 12 blocks through the city's jewelry district.

Shop owners rolled down metal shutters over their storefronts as the marchers, accompanied by a Latin band, passed through. Shoppers scampered from the sidewalks. Police in black riot helmets with face shields blocked off streets not on the authorized parade route.

The only arrest reported Sunday occurred toward the end of the Mumia protest.

Police said 10 to 15 people, most wearing black clothes with black bandanas over their faces, were spotted climbing on the chain link security fence. Officers arrested one of them, Daniel Katz Woutat, 18, of Long Beach and booked him for felony vandalism, accusing him of making holes in the fence.

Later, anti-abortion activists staged a 1.7-mile march, shouting angry slogans all the way and carrying gruesome photos of fetuses.

About 40 Operation Rescue members staked out St. John's Episcopal Church, where an abortion rights march began, and harried the marchers all the way to the protest zone at Staples.

Elsewhere around the city, labor groups, environmentalists and others staged demonstrations in hopes of grabbing the attention of some of the thousands of journalists here for the convention.