Rage Wage Battle of Los Angeles at DNC


Democrats receive angry welcome from RATM
Posted Aug 15, 2000 at 12:00am
Rage Against the Machine gave the Democrats an angry welcome on the first night of their national convention Monday with a forty-minute set in a specially designated demonstration area across the street from Los Angeles' Staples Center, where President Clinton was preparing to speak.

A riot broke out long after the band had left the stage and most of the 8,000 concert-goers had peaceably dispersed. A handful of protesters who remained in the area taunted police, throwing rocks and bottles, and the police answered with pepper spray, rubber bullets and, finally, a charge on horseback. At least four people were hurt and ten were arrested.

The riot was an unsettling finale to a festive concert by RATM, hosted by the non-violent protest organization D2KLA. No arrests were made during the concert and at least one band member, guitarist Tom Morello, had been escorted out of the area by the band's security guards long before any violence broke out. The band had done little to incite riot; in fact, the sharpest comment to come from singer Zack De La Rocha during the show was his sloganeering statement "Brothers and sisters, our democracy has been hijacked."

Although RATM's music was incendiary, the concert was marred by the organizers' sound system. It placed the set at a low volume, which would be appreciated by any parent dreading the loud rap/metal RATM plays. The crowd, however, peeved by RATM's surprisingly soft tones, chanted "Turn it up!" The sound never hit the loud pitch of a typical RATM concert, but fans soon ignored the less-than-stellar sonic quality and began dancing and singing along.

RATM began the concert with "Bulls on Parade," which was followed by a straightforward cover of MC5's "Kick Out the Jams," a song MC5 played at the infamous 1968 Democratic convention, which was plagued by much larger riots. The band also treated the crowd to songs from their latest album Battle of Los Angeles, including "Testify," "Guerrilla Radio" and "Battle of Los Angeles."

Fear of violence was a point of contention in negotiations concert organizers had with the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department. LAPD Commander David Kalish told the Los Angeles Times the police were "gravely concerned" the concert could attract a violent crowd. Dan Merkle, an organizer of the D2KLA protest, said Monday morning that the majority of the people participating in the protest would respect the call to non-violence posted on the D2KLA's Web site, www.d2kla.org.

Bringing RATM to the protest was a tough process for D2KLA. Merkle said he spoke with Rage in April about playing the protest. Since then, it was not known if D2KLA would be granted an appropriate site for the concert or even an area which could accommodate large rallies.

The City of Los Angeles initially demanded D2KLA hold rallies at a small site blocks away from the Staples Center. However, on Aug. 1, a U.S. District Court judge called city plans overly restrictive and ordered the city representatives to change them.

The city designated Pershing Square and a couple of parking lots across from Staples Center as free speech areas where DKLA could hold rallies and mount public displays. RATM was ultimately allowed to play because the area across from Staples Center was designated as a "First Amendment zone."

It's a foreboding place to hold a concert or a rally. In the shadow of the brightly lit Staples Center, the demonstration area is surrounded on three sides by thirteen-feet-high chain link fences and a heavy police presence. Despite the menacing feel of the venue, the day of protest started innocently enough. A crowd, which included environmentalists, socialists and activists demanding a retrial of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a Philadelphia policeman, listened to speeches and watched street theater at Pershing Square, less than a mile from the riot site.

Before Rage raged, Bonnie Raitt and former Doors drummer John Densmore were the headliners of the afternoon's entertainment. Raitt played just one song, however, a cover of Jackson Browne's "Soldier of Plenty." Densmore accompanied Raitt on an African drum. Before the duet, the drummer recited protest poetry by African American writer Eldridge Knight.

Written by ANDREW ASCH for RollingStone.com News

Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Readers' Poll: Best Rock Headphone Song Ever — "Comfortably Numb" (Pink Floyd) Vs. "Killing in the Name" (Rage Against the Machine) (10/30/2015)
What, exactly, is a headphone song? The definition changes depending on who you are. For audiophiles, a headphone song—or album, for that matter—is a work that is so exquisite that it demands you listen to each beautifully recorded note under a ...
Rage Against the Machine Announce 'Live at Finsbury Park' DVD (8/17/2015)
Rage Against the Machine have announced a new live DVD, Live at Finsbury Park. The film, which documents the band's free 2010 concert at London's Finsbury Park, will be released October 16 via Eagle Rock Entertainment. It will be available on ...
2-Year-Old Boy Plays Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade" on Guitar Hero — Video (6/15/2015)
If you've read this story's headline, you already know what lies ahead. Ergo, we hope you enjoy this video of a 2-year-old kid playing Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade" on Guitar Hero. The clip, which was posted to YouTube June 12, is...
Tom Morello: "No Plans" for New Rage Against the Machine Music (12/4/2012)
Rumors and reissues do not a new album make. Despite all the buzz surrounding the release of XX, the 20th anniversary edition of Rage Against the Machine's eponymous debut, guitarist Tom Morello maintains that there are no current plans for the...
Exclusive: Rage Against the Machine — "Killing In the Name" Demo (11/15/2012)
Today we bring you the exclusive stream of the demo version of "Killing In the Name" by Rage Against the Machine. This previously unreleased track is from Rage Against the Machine — XX, Legacy Recordings' new release commemorating the 20th anni...
Rage Against the Machine to Release 20th Anniversary Box Set (10/9/2012)
Rage Against the Machine took to Facebook earlier today to announce the release of a special 20th anniversary box set to commemorate two decades since the release of the band's debut self-titled album. Titled XX, the box set will reportedly feat...
Rage Offer Free Downloads as Apology to Fans (12/16/2000)
RATM make amends to fans with free MP3s
Rage Fans Banned From Napster (12/9/2000)
Label, management blamed for Napster's booting of Rage fans from service
Zack Quits Rage Against the Machine (10/19/2000)
Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha steps down
Rage Vow to Rage On Without Zack (10/20/2000)
Zack de la Rocha's departure won't kill RATM
Rage Rock Los Angeles for Live Album (9/13/2000)
Cypress Hill join Rage for live album performance
Rage Bassist Arrested for VMA Stunt (9/8/2000)
Tim Commerford arrested after scaling stage prop during VMAs
Rage to Record First Live Album (7/13/2000)
RATM warm up for Beasties tour at the Fillmore
Concert Review: Rage Against the Machine (10/4/1999)
Rage blast a hole in midtown Manhattan during preview gig
The Battle of the Police and Rage (11/15/1999)
Police boycott of NBC over Rage Against the Machine performance sends an icy message