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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.