Rage Against The Machine found smooth sailing when the band staged a free concert in the designated protest area outside the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles on Monday night.
After that, however, is a different story.
CNN reports that as some 400 police officers moved in to disperse demonstrators near the Staples Center on Monday night, they were greeted by protesters hurling chunks of concrete and road signs at them. The LAPD reportedly relied on rubber bullets and pepper spray to quell the crowd, a move that has some crying foul.
"Had police cooperated with the rally organizers, the night could have ended calmly and smoothly," the American Civil Liberties Union declared in a statement. "Instead, the police response created huge risks: when people see batons raised, riot gear, and mounted police clearing an area, the tense situation becomes a volatile one."
Reports estimate the crowd gathered for Monday night's concert and protests numbered
somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000. MSNBC reports that 10 protesters were arrested, and some three-dozen people were treated by paramedics.
Before police clashed with protesters, Rage Against The Machine was met with relative calm during its Monday night performance (see "Rage Against The Machine Delivers Set Outside DNC"). Save for the swirl of police helicopters overhead and the unwavering gaze of nearby police officers, the band's set was a smooth one. The group delivered raucous anthems like "Bulls On Parade," "People Of The Sun," "Guerrilla Radio," and "Killing In The Name" to a crowd of no-nuke activists, Zapatista supporters, death penalty opponents, pro-choicers, anarchists, atheists, and thousands of others.
Sometime after Rage yielded the stage to Ozomatli, however, police moved in to disperse the crowd, and the scene turned violent. The Associated Press reports that roughly 300 of the thousands of protesters gathered
began throwing debris at police, prompting the controversial attempts at crowd control.
"Today, tomorrow or the next day, or the next week, our response will be exactly the same,'' a police spokesperson told the AP, defending the use of rubber bullets and pepper spray.