>Sunday, July 16, 2000
>Protest Organizers Vacate Office After Police Visit
>By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Times Staff Writer
>At least five Los Angeles police officers made an
>unexpected visit Saturday night to the MacArthur Park
>headquarters that protesters plan to use during the
>Democratic National Convention, prompting about 25
>organizers to vacate the site, activists and police
>The officers from the Rampart Division, which covers
>the area, arrived at the office at 1919 W. 7th St.
>shortly after 7 p.m. They asked occupants for a copy
>of the lease and proof that the office had been
>inspected by the Fire Department, said Susan Goldberg,
>an organizer with the Direct Action Network, a group
>helping to coordinate protests.
>Officer Don Cox, an LAPD spokesman, said that "an
>officer went by there and saw people running out of a
>building" that was believed to be abandoned.
>The officer returned to the site with about five other
>officers, Cox said Saturday night. Cox was not sure of
>the precise number of police who responded. Goldberg
>estimated that it was 10 officers.
>The police spoke to the occupants, Cox said, and then
>"they went away and we went away. That's all there is."
>Goldberg said police stood inside the entrance to the
>office dubbed "the convergence center." Police told her
>and about 25 others that they might be trespassing.
>One sergeant, Goldberg said, told her that police are
>concerned about protests during the Democratic National
>Convention at Staples Center next month.
>She said police did not search the building or look
>through files. Part of the incident was videotaped by
>Goldberg said she told police that the lease was elsewhere
>and time was needed to retrieve it and other paperwork, as
>well as to contact the group's attorneys.
>The group decided to vacate the office after discussions
>News of the police visit rapidly spread to the mountains
>above Malibu, where 150 activists are meeting to learn
>nonviolent protest tactics. When he heard about the
>incident, state Sen. Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles), who was
>going to speak to the group, said "the overreaction
>He was referring to what activists see as a campaign to
>intimidate the up to 50,000 protesters expected to take
>to the streets during the convention.
>The Los Angeles City Council rescinded permission for
>organizers to gather in downtown's Pershing Square. Advocates
>of protest groups and labor unions have sued the city to
>gain access to the streets around Staples Center.
>Police have said a small group of rogue protesters could
>damage property, as occurred during demonstrations in Seattle
>last November during a World Trade Organization conference.
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