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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Police on alert at Convention
Protesters demanding an end to the death penalty
The Democratic convention attracted a lot of protests
US police have been deployed in strength in central Los Angeles, where the Democratic convention is underway, after the arrest of more than 150 protesters in various incidents over the past two days.

A civil liberties group demanded that the police be brought "under control" after clashes on Monday, when policemen on horseback charged a concert crowd that was slow to disperse.


If the (police) cannot control itself, it is time for the federal government to come in and take control

Civil Liberties spokesman

The police fired rubber bullets, swung clubs and used pepper spray to disperse thousands of concert-goers after a fringe group began throwing rocks, bottles and lumps of concrete at them.

On Tuesday, activists from an animal rights demonstration banged on the windows of several shops and a bicycle rally by protesters demanding more cycle lanes tied up evening traffic for more than an hour.

Whose rights?

Outside the convention centre itself, protesters against the death penalty shouted slogans at emerging delegates. Some smiled, others walked past stoney-faced.

Police keep photographers at bay during a protest march
Police say they were provoked
One delegate said she regarded the heckling as healthy, but another, Sue Wanzer from Indiana, disagreed.

"What's really ironic is that this whole convention probably supports the protesters rights and they are infringing our rights," she said.

Most of the protests were peaceful. The causes ranged from gay, women's and union rights, an end to sanctions on Iraq and more money for schools.

Tension

But tension was high after Monday's confrontation.

Dan Tokanji of the American Civil Liberties Union described the police reaction as "nothing less than an organised police riot", but said that the protests would go on.

He accused the police of using illegally excessive force against people who had not broken the law.

A police spokesman denied that officers had over-reacted, saying they had been provoked.

Among the protests planned for Wednesday is a demonstration against police from the controversial Rampart station, who have been accused of committing crimes against civilians.

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