Protesters rally outside as Gore accepts nomination

LOS ANGELES - About 2,500 protesters converged outside the Democratic National Convention Thursday as Al Gore accepted the party's presidential nomination, intent on bringing attention to causes as diverse as animal rights, the environment and the plight of immigrant workers.

''Do we nominate Al Gore?'' a demonstrator asked on the protest stage. ''No!'' the crowd responded. ''Is Al Gore the candidate of the people?'' she asked. ''No!'' the crowd shouted.

Most of the people demonstrated peacefully inside a fenced protest area, some listening to protest bands and dancing and others holding candles. After the convention ended, the area emptied, and activists marched north toward the country jail, where many of the arrested protesters had been taken.

''No justice, no peace!'' the crowd chanted.

The march followed a 90-minute face-off between police and about 200 protesters across a chain-link fence. The demonstrators, many of them wearing black, passed out vinegar and soaked it on bandannas to fend off the effects of pepper spray. Others donned gas masks.

Police stood feet away, armed with guns that shoot pepper spray and beanbags. But in a sign of restraint on both sides, the demonstrators drifted away soon after Gore finished his speech.

Earlier, as a police helicopter buzzed overhead, demonstrators urged the crowd not to get out of hand.

''I'd personally like to see that building over there, Staples Center, come down brick by brick and window by window,'' Tim Ream, an activist who helped organize the concert, said to roars from the crowd.

''But we have some vulnerable people here tonight. We have folks with 'three strikes.' We have people on parole. We have undocumented workers,'' he said. ''So if there is (conflict) with police a lot of people could go away for life.''

In other protests Thursday:

- About 500 demonstrators rallied in the downtown garment district to protest sweatshops and call for better wages and health benefits for apparel workers.

Workers watched from windows of sewing shops, waving to the demonstrators and shaking their fists in the air in support. The activists, many of them Hispanics who say immigrants are often the victims of unfair labor practices, danced in the street and sang Latin songs before a march to Staples.

- About 200 rallied in front of the downtown federal building to protest training exercises on a U.S. Navy bombing range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Toting signs, burning incense, banging drums and shaking rattles, protesters marched in a circle and chanted ''no more bombs'' in Spanish English.

- At Pershing Square, a gathering place for demonstrators this week, about 100 activists criticized Citibank for funding projects they said were ruining the environment. The ''Spank the Bank'' protest moved about two blocks to Citibank Center downtown and returned without incident.

''Boycott Citigroup, the world's most destructive bank,'' read stickers protesters pasted downtown.

- Environmental activists rallied in Century City, an area west of downtown where Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore was staying, and called for protection of wetlands.

''Save it, don't pave it,'' they chanted.

The peaceful protests came a day after bottle-throwing protesters and baton-wielding police clashed briefly outside the Staples Center arena before both sides backed off.

Through Wednesday, police had made 192 convention-related arrests.


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