Protest Art from the L.A. 2000 DNC.
Photos and Text by Mark Vallen
Click on the thumbnails for larger views

Giant puppets, beautifully painted banners and posters, elaborately costumed street theater performers, were just some of the means protesters used to get their message out during the Los Angeles Democratic Convention of 2000. I've documented through my photographs the creativity demonstrators utilized in their protests. I'm presenting some of these photos to illustrate the importance of art in public dissent. If you'd like to use any of these images please contact me by e-mail

This poster reads Corporate Power Crushes Democracy. Hundreds of copies were distributed during the week of protests at the Democratic Convention. Activists carried this poster on the streets of downtown L.A. during the Meet Human Need, End Corporate Greed march of some 15,000 people.

This gigantic puppet of a riot cop confronted marchers along the route of the Free Mumia march held on 8/13/2000. The puppet was controlled by three people, one who actually stood inside the puppet and served as it's legs, and two other people who each controlled a puppet arm using poles. The huge 12 foot high puppet carried a club and a canister of pepper spay, with the pepper spray actually being a water spray to cool off the crowd in
L.A.'s hellish summer heat.

I photographed this on the last day of the convention. Some clever group of protesters had made a TV camera out of cardboard and ducktape to make their point; "TV Lies - Biased - Sensational - Corporate."

I photographed this banner on the last day of the convention. The huge, colorful banner was painted and carried through the streets by a Filipino artist's collective called People's Artists. On the last day of the protests, the artists hung the banner on the security fence
surrounding the Staples Center.

The theme of protest on 8/13/2000 was Human Need not Corporate Greed. An enormous crowd gathered at L.A.'s historic Pershing Square for a march to the Staples Center. Ten thousand people participated in the protest, and many issues were addressed. I took photos of this enormous puppet as it was carried down the broad avenues of L.A.'s downtown streets. The puppet's arms were stretched out wide, touching each side of the street.

Giant Frogs invade downtown Los Angeles! In this picture a troupe of street theater performers are dressed as gigantic frogs. They are wearing signs that say SAVE BALLONA. The Ballona wetlands are some of the very last marshlands left in the entire southern California area... and they are under threat from big developers.

I photographed this puppet of a Navajo woman, representing the indigenous resistance to the big coal companies and their grabbing of traditional Navajo lands at Big Mountain. A great number of protesters expressed solidarity with Native American people and their right to self-determination.

During the Human Need not Corporate Greed march, no fewer than 10,000 protesters participated. The largest creative props in the entire week of demonstrations were on display that day... four helium filled balloons designed to look like actual nuclear missiles! Nearly a dozen people were required to carry each of the gigantic balloons!

I Photographed this enormous puppet of Ralph Nader as it was paraded up and down directly in front of the security fence surrounding the Staples Center. The puppet of the Green Party candidate made it's appearance just as Al Gore took the podium inside the convention hall. Those that held up the puppet called out to the Democratic delegates and members of the press just beyond the gate... "Come on down here and DEBATE ME!"

This Poster was distributed during the week of protests at the Democratic Convention. The image of Mickey Mouse as a bomb was created by an anonymous Serbian artist during the U.S. - NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia. Hundreds of copies of this image were mounted as placards and carried in demonstrations during the DNC.

The main critique of the Human Need not Corporate Greed protests during the DNC was that the Democratic party is beholden to the interests of the rich and powerful just as much as the Republican party. From the antics of the Billionaires for Bush or Gore street theater troupe, to the banners denouncing the Democrats for supporting war and the anti-worker NAFTA treaty... the word on the street was, "beware the Republicrats."
www.art-for-a-change.com is owned and operated by Mark Vallen . All Photos and text by Mark Vallen.