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Vigil Held for Protesters at DNC

August 20, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Fifty of the nearly 200 protesters arrested during the Democratic National Convention remained jailed Saturday, many of them on a hunger strike, as supporters outside the jailhouse demanded their immediate release.

Twenty-six of the 27 men and 19 of the 23 women began refusing to eat Friday afternoon, said Sgt. Bob Killeen of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which oversees county jails.

``We have medical staff monitoring them. Nobody appears to be in any distress,″ he said Saturday night.

Earlier in the day, about two dozen demonstrators carried cardboard cutouts depicting their comrades behind bars. ``We are asking for a fair and just plea bargain,″ protest organizer Lisa Fithian said.

The bulk of those still in custody refuse to give authorities their names, even though if they did so, they likely would be given court dates and released with a minimal amount of bail.

One 21-year-old inmate who has refused to give his name said in a telephone interview that he knew about the demonstrators outside. ``It’s very encouraging to know we have support,″ he said.

Another jailed protester said: ``We’re fasting in order to speed up the process.″

Fithian and Kevin Rudiger of Direct Action Network said they hoped the demonstration would persuade prosecutors to drop misdemeanor charges against the jailed protesters and free them with credit for time served.

``People committed civil disobedience. They expected to be arrested. They also think they should be released immediately,″ Rudiger said.

An after-hour call seeking comment from the city attorney’s office was not immediately returned.

Police said 194 people were arrested during the convention.

By Friday afternoon, 129 misdemeanor cases and four felony cases had been filed. The most serious charge was felony assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer filed against a protester who allegedly threw a chunk of concrete at an officer.

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