Final Day Of Protests

Jesse Ramon, 17, shakes hands with a Los Angeles Police officer Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000 near the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. Ramon was demonstrating with others to urge the U.S. Navy to stop bombing excercises out of Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Activists returned to the streets Thursday for the last day of the Democratic convention, protesting environmental destruction and promising to greet Al Gore's big speech with a chorus of chants and drum beats outside the convention hall.

The biggest rally brought about 500 demonstrators to the downtown garment district to protest sweatshops and call for better wages and health benefits for apparel workers.

Workers watched from windows of sewing shops, waving to the demonstrators and shaking their fists in the air in support. The activists, many of them Hispanics who say immigrants are often the victims of unfair labor practices, danced in the street and sang Latin songs while marching to the Staples Center convention hall under a heavy police presence.

In other protests, about 200 demonstrators rallied in front of the downtown federal building to protest training exercises on a U.S. Navy bombing range on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Toting signs, burning incense, banging drums and shaking rattles, protesters marched in a circle and chanted "no more bombs" in Spanish and English.

At Pershing Square, a gathering place for demonstrators this week, about 100 activists criticized Citibank for funding projects they said were ruining the environment. The "Spank the Bank" protest moved about two blocks to Citibank Center downtown and returned without incident.

"Boycott Citigroup, the world's most destructive bank," read stickers protesters pasted downtown.

Environmental activists rallied in Century City, an area west of downtown where Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore was staying, and called for protection of wetlands.

"Save it, don't pave it," they chanted.

The peaceful protests came a day after bottle-throwing protesters and baton-wielding police clashed briefly outside the Staples Center arena before both sides backed off.

Through Wednesday, police had made 192 convention-related arrests.