Pubdate: Thu, 27 Jul 2000
Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2000 Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Address: P.O. Box 9136, Corpus Christi, TX 78469-9136
Author: Erica Werner, Associated Press Writer
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LOS ANGELES (AP) Anarchists, young people, mothers and the homeless are
among the half dozen groups planning alternative meetings around the time of
the Democratic National Convention.

The gatherings will serve up a freewheeling mix of issues, from homeless
rights to the drug war, but organizers said all will provide alternatives to
the overly scripted agendas put forward by the two major parties. Experts
said a convention hasn't ignited such spirited opposition from interest
groups outside the convention hall since 1960s-era political activism.

``It's really taken on a life of its own,'' said Nancy Snow, a political
scientist at UCLA. ``There's a sense of maybe, possibly being part of

Only two of the alternative conventions planned for the Democrats' Aug.
14-17 meeting in Los Angeles are also scheduled for Philadelphia, where the
Republicans convene on Monday.

That's partly the result of circumstances. Organizers said they have a
stronger network or more contacts in Los Angeles.

Demonstrators also may flock more to the party whose views are closer to
their own - even if they aren't happy with that party - because the other
party is ``clearly anathema,'' said Byron E. Shafer, a professor of American
government at Oxford University.

The most prominent of the alternative conventions is the Shadow Convention
being organized by Arianna Huffington, the syndicated columnist and author
of ``How to Overthrow the Government.''

Planned both for Philadelphia and Los Angeles, the Shadow Convention will
focus on three issues Huffington said Democrats and Republicans are
overlooking: the corrupting influence of money in politics, the failed war
on drugs and the persistence of poverty in America.

Huffington has recruited a slate of marquee names, including Sen. John
McCain, who will open the proceedings in Philadelphia, Sen. Russ Feingold,
who will kick things off in Los Angeles, former Sen. Gary Hart, the Rev.
Jesse Jackson, actor Warren Beatty, comedian Al Franken and talk show host
Bill Maher.

The other gatherings are:

- - The Youth Convention, which will meet in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
First convened during the 1996 presidential conventions, the convention aims
to attract 300 to 500 delegates aged 16 to 25, who will develop a youth
platform to show the major parties.

- - The Homeless Convention. Organizer and homeless activist Ted Hayes hopes
to attract more than 1,000 homeless people and advocates to Dome Village,
the homeless enclave across a freeway from the Staples Center, where the
Democrats will meet.

- - The People's Convention is a gathering of leftist groups, including
members of the Peace and Freedom Party, the Socialist Party, the Black
Radical Congress, immigrant groups and others.

- - The North American Anarchist Conference. About 1,000 anarchists are
expected to gather, and their impending presence has alarmed police and city

- - The Mother's Convention, a half-day event organized by the Los Angeles
Coalition to End Hunger and Homelessness. Organizers are expecting about 250
people, who will work to develop a platform to address the needs of
low-income mothers, emphasizing welfare reform and housing.
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MAP posted-by: Don Beck