Photos from the L.A. 2000 Democratic Convention
Photos and Text by Mark Vallen
Click on the thumbnails for larger views

As a working artist devoted to painting, I also enjoy using a camera to capture social reality. The vibrant protests on the streets of Los Angeles surrounding the DNC in the year 2000 were a photographer's dream come true. I worked overtime to document the mass actions on the streets of L.A., and I hope that my photographs will in some small way convey the importance of those events. If you'd like to use any of these images please contact me by e-mail

"Welcome to Los Angeles... now go home." I shot this photograph on the last day of the convention. I had never seen so many police in my life, and they were very militaristic looking with their body armor, tear gas guns and twelve gauge shotguns. More police were mobilized during the convention than at any other time in L.A.'s history... with the exception of the various 'civil disturbances' that have broken out over the years.

In this photo, LAPD riot officers can be seen ready for action, but none of them are wearing their badges... which I believe, is a clear violation of police conduct. Sometimes there were so many riot police on the street that one had the impression there were more police in a given area than there were protesters.

This photo sums up the joy and optimism of many of the protesters. I took the picture on Sunday, the first day of mass marches. The summer heat was scorching and the fire department opened a hydrant to help keep the crowd cool. In my photo two anarchists embrace beneath a giant Apple Computer advertisement while enjoying the refreshing water falling from the hydrant.

I shot this portrait of young rebels on the opening day of the convention (8/13/2000), as they listened to the band Rage Against the Machine. The photo was snapped nearly an hour before the LAPD riot squad assaulted the crowd of 10,000 with rubber bullets and tear gas.

I took this photograph of a Chicano protester as he stood amid a crowd of demonstrators who would not back down in the face of the riot police. The multi-racial nature of the protests in L.A. was readily apparent, with great numbers of Latino, Asian, African American and other peoples of color taking part.

I shot the portrait of this fellow on the opening day of the convention (8/13/2000), as he listened to the band, Rage Against the Machine. Like others in the huge crowd, he wore a gasmask as a defensive measure against the teargas many feared the authorities would use against protesters. My photo was snapped nearly an hour before the LAPD riot squad assaulted the crowd of 10,000 with rubber bullets, tear gas, and horse mounted officers.

One specific day of protest (8/16/2000), was against police brutality, the death penalty, and political prisoners. The largest protest was held at the Staples Center, where 4,000 people faced off with the LAPD riot squad. I took this photo of a young protester who had been shot with a police rubber bullet the previous Monday. The fellow had turned his body into protest art by writing a message on his stomach next to the rubber bullet bruise.

I took this photograph of a medic wearing a gasmask during a protest against police brutality (8/16/2000). Like many protestors he was obviously expecting the worst and was fully prepared for trouble. There were a few minor scuffles that day but thankfully things did not get out of hand.

I took this photograph of a young female protester as she fearlessly stared down the gun toting riot police standing opposite her. Thousands of young people came from all over the U.S. to protest at the DNC, and for many it was their first demonstration.

I photographed this woman on 8/15/2000 as she was protesting the U.S. imposed economic sanctions against Iraq. The protest took place directly in front of the Staples Center and attracted some 1,000 demonstrators. The woman stands in the fading light of sunset, holding one of the hundreds of small coffins that were made available by artists to the protesters... each coffin representing an Iraqi child who died as a result of the sanctions. Over 1.5 million Iraqis died from the United States imposed sanctions.

www.art-for-a-change.com is owned and operated by Mark Vallen . All Photos and text by Mark Vallen.