>July 18, 2000
>DNC Demonstrators in Training
>By The Associated Press
>MALIBU, Calif. (AP) -- Atop the Santa Monica Mountains, demonstrators bound
>for the Democratic National Convention next month are learning how to be
>They're practicing ways to scale tall buildings to hang massive protest
>banners, linking arms to form nearly unbreakable human blockades and
>learning how to move faster than a speeding tear gas canister.
>The Berkeley-based Ruckus Society is hosting a training camp this week to
>teach activists elaborate civil disobedience tactics for the demonstrations
>planned outside the Aug. 14-17 convention in downtown Los Angeles.
>``We're taking protests to the very edge,'' said John Quigley, 39, as he
>pointed to demonstrators hanging a banner from a six-story scaffold on
>Monday. ``We want people to wonder, 'Why are those people risking their
>lives to do this?'''
>Nearly 150 activists gathered for the six-day camp at a mountain ranch
>overlooking the Pacific Ocean, sleeping in clusters of tents along the
>bluff and dining in a makeshift kitchen under a stand of elm trees beside a
>The participants are members of various activist groups, including
>environmentalists, anarchists and feminists. Many are veterans of massive
>protests last fall and early this year that disrupted global trade and
>banking meetings in Seattle and Washington.
>Ruckus organizers said they hope to inspire similar high-profile
>demonstrations while avoiding the violence that tainted those gatherings.
>In addition to lessons about colorful acts of civil disobedience, the camp
>teaches activists safety procedures for rowdy protests and methods of
>calming members of a crowd who start rioting.
>``We show people how to de-escalate violence. We don't want people to get
>hurt,'' said Ruckus trainer Lynn Stone, 34, of San Francisco. ``We also say
>that property destruction is virtually useless in a mass-protest. ... It
>needlessly puts a lot of people at risk.''
>On the first day, participants attend outdoor classes about nonviolent
>protests, focusing on the actions of civil rights leaders such as the Rev.
>Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.
>The camp teaches other safety tips for use during tense protests, such as
>using a handkerchief smeared with toothpaste as an impromptu gas mask.
>``The minty smell helps counteract the tear gas,'' Stone said.
>And when police in riot gear move on a crowd, Stone added, demonstrators
>are told to simply sit on the ground and turn their backs to the officers.
>``Showing someone your back is an act of trust,'' she said. ``When we did
>it to the police in Seattle, it showed we weren't threatening and the
>officers seemed to relax.''
>Shannon Wright, another Ruckus organizer, said the protesters have decided
>to converge on the Democratic National Convention because they feel
>citizens have lost control of the U.S. political system.
>``The Democrats are the same as Republicans anymore, and the presidential
>candidates are like Coke and Pepsi,'' Wright said. ``We're calling for a
>Ruckus participants plan to stage blockades on downtown streets, linking
>arms through large plastic pipes to form nearly impenetrable human chains.
>They also intend to drape buildings with billboard-sized banners emblazoned
>with messages aimed at convention delegates.
>On the Web:
>The Ruckus Society: http://www.ruckus.org
>Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company
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