Rage Against The Machine fans and political protesters were pelted with rubber bullets as armed police broke up a disturbance following a performance by the band opposite the DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONFERENCE in LOS ANGELES last night (August 14).
According to reports in the LA Times, the band’s set across from the Staples Centre, where President Clinton and his wife were due to speak, passed without incident and most of the crowd, estimated at between 8,000- and 10,000, left quickly.
US TV station NBC reported that the set lasted for an hour before police cut it short. Los Angeles Police Department Commander David Kalish said afterwards: “We clearly saw during the entire rock event, there was a small group of people that became violent. We had no other choice but to ask people to leave.”
As the set drew to a close, a few people began throwing rocks, concrete and bottles over a fence at police. Some protesters climbed over the security fence, while others set their banners on fire.
Civic leaders had tried to ban the concert, with Commander Kalish voicing reservations last week. The show was allowed to go ahead without a permit because a federal judge deemed the site to be an open demonstration site.
On RATM‘s official website, [url=]www.ratm.com, a statement posted prior to the concert read: “RATM are playing this concert today for all the people who feel left out and excluded by the two major political parties… we’ve had enough. On the Streets of Los Angeles today there will be a people’s convention, and unlike the Democratic convention across the way there will be no 20-foot barb-wire fence separating the people of this city from the main event.” There is also a link under the heading “fuck the two-party system” to groups “fighting against the political establishment by protesting at both the Democratic and Republican conventions”.
The LA Times, whose reporter was hit by a rubber bullet, said that well-armed officers swarmed the area in “overwhelming numbers,” indiscriminately firing rubber bullets, pepper spray and projectile beanbags into the crowd for more than an hour. No serious injuries were reported and there were 10 arrests.
Rage Against The Machine play the Carling Weekend Festivals at Leeds on Saturday, August 26 and Reading on Sunday, August 27.