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2000 Democratic National Convention

The 2000 Democratic National Convention was held in Los Angeles August  14-17, 2000. The event drew approximately 35,000 delegates, journalists, protesters and a wide variety of dignitaries. The DNC offered a world  stage and attracted a variety of groups and organizations to demonstrate.  The focal point of Convention activity was the Staples Center, a 900,000  square foot complex located at 1111 South Figueroa Street.

In November 1999, major disruptions took place at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Conference in Seattle, Washington. During that event, anarchists and other activists intent on shutting down the event,  succeeded in blocking the major access routes, infiltrating hotels,  damaging property, and preventing participants from attending the WTO.  Major demonstrations were also staged in April 2000 at the International  Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington, District of Columbia. Several  of the organizations and groups disrupting activities during the WTO and  the IMF pledged to be in Los Angeles during the DNC.

The mission of the Los Angeles Police Department during the DNC was to facilitate cooperation with other City Departments, County, State and  Federal Agencies to provide a level of police service that ensured the  safety of all individuals attending or participating in DNC activities.  The Department's five main objectives were to Protect Lives; Maintain  Order; Protect Vital Facilities; Arrest Law Violators; and Protect  Property.

The LAPD began formally planning for the DNC by creating the Democratic National Convention Planning Group (DNCPG) in April 1999. The DNCPG coordinated the security planning efforts for the DNC. The planning effort  was a multi-agency endeavor involving approximately 30 entities. They  included the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, CHP, Los Angeles County Sheriff's  Department, Los Angeles Department of Transportation, Los Angeles City  Attorney's Office, Los Angeles Fire Department, and numerous others.  During the planning process, the Department closely monitored the events  of civil unrest in Seattle, Washington; Washington, DC; and Philadelphia.

As part of the planning process, all Department personnel received a  minimum of 16 hours of training. The training received by the officers  focused in the areas of tactics and relevant legal material (laws of  arrest, individual rights, unlawful assembly- 407 PC, etc.). Specialized  entities, such as Metropolitan Division, Narcotics, Vice Officers, and  Detectives, received additional training as to their specific DNC  assignment. Throughout the Department's planning efforts, the priorities  were to ensure that the community was not unduly disrupted and that  individuals had the opportunity to exercise the first amendment right to  engage in free speech in a lawful manner.

To facilitate the lawful exercise of the first amendment, a public  demonstration area was identified and set aside from the beginning of the  planning process. A dialogue was established between Department personnel  and protesters (these meetings involved the presence and mediation efforts  of other entities such as the City of Los Angeles' Human Relations  Commission). Additionally a number of meetings were held with the business  community; as well as meetings with homeless advocates.

The Department succeeded in its goals, priorities and objectives.  Despite numerous protests, only 194 arrests were made (59 of those for  felonies, the rest for Misdemeanors). There were no serious injuries to  protesters, police, or guests of the City. Six law enforcement officers  sustained minor injuries, and a police horse, Dakota, suffered a  laceration as the result of a protester's assault.

With few exceptions, protesters championed their causes colorfully and peacefully. It was the smaller group of demonstrators who caused trouble,  such as those who heaved rocks, concrete chunks and street signs at police  on Monday night. The trouble Monday evening escalated to the point that an unlawful assembly was declared and the demonstration area cleared.

By the week's end, the LAPD managed to keep a lid on potential troubles  and avoided the large-scale injuries and property damage that were  suffered in varying degrees in Seattle, Washington; Washington DC; and  Philadelphia earlier this year. Many city, county and Democratic Party  Leaders, including longtime observers of the LAPD praised the police for  keeping the peace and heading off more serious conflicts. After months in  which heightened activism and newly assertive protest tactics have left  some cities with large problems in their wake, Los Angeles has emerged  from its brush with the movement relatively unscathed.

City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter credited the LAPD not only with  controlling the few flare-ups it encountered but also with protecting the  rights of peaceful protesters to get out their message. Joe Hicks, who  heads the City's Human Relations Commission struck a complimentary tone  saying, "What we saw over the last week or so (during the DNC) was  the epitome of human relations on the streets of L.A." Councilman  Alex Padilla called the event, "very successful; a lot of [delegates]  have never been to L.A. or haven't been here in a long time and the  misperceptions about the City, traffic, crime, you name it, are totally dispelled." Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Association  of businesses said, "This sent an important message to the world and  the City itself. It showed the talent we have here for putting on a  sophisticated event and how safe downtown is."

As delegates filed out of the convention Thursday night, many stopped  and thanked the police. These assiduous efforts have resulted in a bottom  line that the LAPD can tout with pride--and that protesters can claim  credit for as well. In Los Angeles, there were no reports of serious  injuries, either to protesters or police and there was no significant  property destruction.