[Hpn] All hell can't stop us now!

Coalition on Homelessness, SF coh@sfo.com
Sun, 13 Aug 2000 03:13:11 -0700


Saturday, August 12, 2000

Free Rock Concert Set at Protest Site


Rage Against the Machine, one of the nation's most acclaimed rock 
bands, plans to bring the "Battle of Los Angeles"--the title of the 
group's platinum album--to the Democratic National Convention for a 
free concert Monday night in the designated protest zone across the 
street from Staples Center.

The Los Angeles quartet, famed for its political bent and the sonic 
assault of its rap-rock, plans the free concert at Figueroa and 11th 
streets. President Clinton is scheduled to address the convention 
inside Staples about the same time.

The Los Angeles Police Department is "gravely concerned" about 
Monday's concert because the popular band could attract a volatile 
crowd prone to dangerous behavior, said LAPD Cmdr. Dave Kalish.

Police watched nervously late Friday afternoon as three truckloads of 
stage and sound gear were unloaded at the protest site. The show also 
will feature Ozomatli, an East Los Angeles-based group that fuses 
traditional Afro-Latin styles with funk, a knotty hip-hop sound and 

The band does not need a special city permit to hold its concert in 
the designated protest zone because a federal judge recently approved 
that area as an open demonstration site.

"It appears the [concert] organizers are taking advantage of the 
situation," Kalish said. "We're gravely concerned because of security 
reasons--just the large numbers of individuals that this will bring 

The department will not deploy additional officers to the area but 
will issue earplugs to police, Kalish said. LAPD Cmdr. Tom Lorenzen, 
who oversees the Police Department's convention planning unit, said 
the department will "wait and watch and then react."

Peter Hidalgo, a spokesman for Mayor Richard Riordan, said he 
believes protest organizers D2KLA reserved the time for the concert 
at the protest site. He said city leaders would not--and could 
not--censor any protected speech in that area.

"We are confident that our demonstrators throughout the week will be 
99.9% peaceful," Hidalgo said. "We are confident that this group will 
maintain that same civil order and at the same time offer 
entertainment to an audience that is listening to what this group has 
to say."

The band's Web site encourages civil disobedience to draw attention 
to societal ills, and guitarist Tom Morello said the band weaves 
political awareness through its music.

"We've always been about making our audience more conscious of the 
world around them and not blindly accepting what is forced on them," 
he said. "Our country was born of revolution over an oppressive and 
violent dictatorship that was robbing freedom, and when we see those 
elements in our society and government today we feel its our 
obligation to use our 1st Amendment right to point them out."

Although the band's shows are noted for their intensity--mosh pits 
and aggressive dancing are staples of the performances--Morello said 
the LAPD's concerns are misplaced.

"We're a rock band; we make CDs," he said. "We're certainly not the 
danger to society that the rogue elements of the LAPD are. . . . We 
don't beat homeless people, we don't steal, we don't kill people."

He said the 13-foot-high fences that have been installed around 
Staples Center for the convention are a metaphor for the political 
party's distance from workaday voters. "There's precious little 
democracy going on inside the pointy metal, so we're going to play 
for the people kept outside," he said.

Rage's third and most recent album, last year's "The Battle of Los 
Angeles," has sold nearly 2 million copies and earned critical 
plaudits for its political and social commentary, delivered with a 
blistering guitar sound.

The group has championed numerous causes, from the push for a retrial 
of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal to decrying U.S. military 
policies, worker exploitation and capitalistic culture.

Indeed, much of the band's music plays out as a call to action, and 
the group has cited Malcolm X and his famed tenet of "by any means 
necessary" to achieve political advancement.

One example is the song "Guerrilla Radio" from the "Battle of Los 
Angeles" disc. Front man Zack de la Rocha sings:

It has to start somewhere.

It has to start sometime.

What better place than here?

What better time than now?

Then he screams the chorus: "All hell can't stop us now."

Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times


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