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Attack On Labor Video Project Photographers, Demonstrators &
 The Media By Los Angeles Police

Labor Video Press Release

For Immediate Release
8/16/2000
Labor Video Project

On 8/14/2000  at approximately 9:30 PM two photographers from the Labor 
Video Project, Bill Sparks and Bud Gundelach were attacked by the Los 
Angeles police simply for shooting video for the project. We were also 
filming for the Los Angeles Independent Media Center 
(www.la.indymedia.org) Sparks was hit by a rubber bullet on the arm in 
two locations and Gundelach was attacked with a baton which left a large 
bruise in his stomach. They were not the only ones under assault.
        Thousands of demonstrators and people who were observing the 
demonstration as well as Democratic Party delegates such as Miguel 
Contreras, Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles Country Federation of 
Labor all faced a barrage of police going wild. Miguel Contreras said 
"officers shoved him even though he identified himself." USA Today of 
August 15, 2000 reported.
        Based on many other  interviews and evidence, we believe that these 
attacks were premeditated and were organized with the intent of 
terrorizing dissenters and preventing the protesters from meeting and 
debating with the thousands of delegates who were attending the 
convention. We also believe that these actions were encouraged by the 
Mayor of Los Angeles Richard  Riordan and Democratic officials who gave 
the "ok" for the massive attacks.
        On Monday night, there were confrontations between a small group of 
demonstrators and the police. The massive police assault however against 
the 10 to 15,000 participants who were peaceful did not begin until  
after Clinton had finished speaking to the convention. According to the 
New York Times of Wednesday, August 16, 2000 "police officials strongly 
defended their tactics and Democratic officials were on the roof watching 
and approving their tactical decisions backed them up."
        According to television producer and videographer Jesse Escochea of 
Street Heat Productions in Los Angeles, the order to clear the area came 
only after Clinton was done speaking. He was listening on a police band 
and heard the orders given out. This was despite the fact, that the 
permit for the rally had more than an hour remaining.
        In our view, the reason for this was to clear the area quickly, so no 
delegates would be confronted with the demonstrators. Over ten thousand 
participants in an enclosed "cage" were charged by police on horses with 
batons. With only a small exit they were literally pinned in. At the same 
time, hundreds of police used their clubs to beat and shoot thousands of 
protesters with rubber bullets, bean bags and gas concussion grenades.
        Besides targeting the press, they also targeted Los Angeles activists 
who they knew.  Homeless advocate Ted Hayes was shot point blank on 
Olympic Boulevard by a rubber bullet fired by the police and was rushed 
to the hospital in serious condition. Many reporters including from CNN 
and the Los Angeles Times have also been targeted with the rubber bullets 
or police batons. These bullets can blind or cause serious injury. Many 
of those hit were bleeding or displayed deep, silver dollar-size bruises.
        On Tuesday morning this reporter asked Mayor Richard Riordan at his 
restaurant "The Pantry" what he felt about the demonstrations. The mayor 
said that the demonstrators had been throwing concrete and other objects 
and the police "had done a fantastic job" handling the protestors. He 
also said "$25 to $50 million had been spent on the FBI, State and local 
police forces" and that because of this, the money was not going to the 
inner cities.
        This is not a new experience for the Los Angeles police department. They 
have falsified charges, murdered innocent civilians and continuously 
attack journalists and photographers. In the Laker riot under the glare 
of helicopters, the police created a wedge not against the rioters but 
against the media who were convering the event. This was also caught live 
on televison. According to Escochea, helicopters were "banned" from the 
convention area so the actual assault was not filmed from above. This was 
clearly designed to be a "clean" action without spotlights and video from 
above.
        The previous week, the same Los Angeles police had been used to break up 
a picket line of the union busting New Otoni Hotel in Los Angeles. Again 
democratic rights were violated when over 10 workers were arrested. These 
illegal actions have taken place for years in Los Angeles County. One of 
the most publicized incidents was the beating of dozens SEIU janitors in 
Century City who were trying to win a contract.
        The use of the police to terrorize the population and the media must 
come to an end. We call on all labor unions, federations and councils to 
protest these actions. We demand the removal of the police chief and 
criminal charges against the police who engaged in these violent attacks 
as well as the officials who ordered these attacks. We also condemn the 
silence of the Democratic Party leadership and officials in this blatant 
violation of civil rights of those protesting the record of the 
Democratic Party. We demand a full independent investigation of not only 
the role of the police and the Mayor but also the Democratic officials in 
these actions. These assaults on the democratic right to picket and 
protest are a threat to all working people and a threat to any democracy 
we may have left.
        We also call on labor and media organizations to endorse this call as 
well as supporting the lawsuit the ACLU is filing against the Los Angeles 
police department.
        The Labor Video Project also has video interviews of Mayor Riordan and 
some others quoted in this article.
In Solidarity,
        Steve Zeltzer
        Producer, Labor Video Project
        
        Please send a copy of your statement or resolution to the
        Labor Video Project
        P.O.Box 425584
        San Francisco,CA 94142
        (415)282-1908
        lvpsf@igc.org
        If possible please email it as well.
        
        And To the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and your local newspaper

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