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LA Activists Target Corporate Greed

August 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Hundreds of activists angered by an oil company’s plans to drill near a Colombian Indian reserve and Al Gore’s ties to that company marched Monday to the site of the Democratic National Convention.

Demonstrators carried a series of giant papier mache puppets, some of them an unflattering rendering of Gore. Others carried a banner reading, ``Mother Earth Rocks, Corporate Greed Sucks,″ as the march moved through downtown from Pershing Square to the Staples Center convention hall.

During his campaign, Gore has been dogged by protesters upset about his connection to Occidental Petroleum Corp. His father, the late former Sen. Albert Gore Sr., had served on Occidental’s board, owned stock in the company and served as chief executive of a subsidiary.

Protesters have urged Gore to divest his family of the stock, worth as much as $500,000, which was among the elder Gore’s assets when he died last December.

Colombia’s government has granted Occidental the right to conduct exploratory drilling a few miles outside the legal boundaries of the U’wa Indian reserve.

The U’wa believe oil exploration would bring violence and destroy their culture. In 1997, the group threatened mass suicide to discourage drilling.

``Al Gore bills himself as an environmentalist, but he’s not putting his money where his mouth is,″ said Michael Mossberg, a protester from Seattle. ``What I’d want him to do today is use his power to get Occidental to stop drilling on U’wa land.″

Demonstrators carried picket signs that read ``Gore, Oxy Out of U’wa Land.″ The protest at Staples Center ended after about an hour.

So far, the protests at the convention have been raucous but largely peaceful. Over the weekend, no major incidents were reported in a downtown area swarming with officers _ many in riot gear _ who patrolled on foot, on horses, on motorcycles and in squad cars and helicopters.

A 12-foot-tall fence separated the official protest area from the Staples Center.

Later Monday, activists planned a march by ``Billionaires for Bush (or Gore)″ and a concert outside the downtown Staples Center convention hall by Rage Against the Machine, a popular rock band.

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