When the Democratic National Convention rolls into Los Angeles next week, over 10,000 police and security guards will be ready to control the crowds as thousands of delegates, politicians, observers and protesters flock to the area.
Berkeley activists will be both inside and outside the convention, catching the action first hand.
Larry Buchalter, activist on disability issues, and UC Berkeley student Noah Schubert are just two of those Berkeleyans who will be in the heat of the action inside the convention center.
Buchalter is a member of the Credentials Committee, which verifies delegates.
He had hoped to be selected as a delegate but others, received more votes and will be seated as delegates from the Bay Area. Some of them include David Stein from the Monclair Greater-Oakland Democratic Club and Assemblymember Dion Aroner.
Still, Buchalter is planning on making an impact.
“I am hoping to do work on getting progressive ideas heard and onto the platform,” he said. “I don’t know how successful I will be, but I’m going to work very hard to try.”
Buchalter, who uses a wheelchair to get around, said he will be representing Democrats with Disabilities and discussing their needs, which includes improving wheelchair access, implementing American with Disabilities Act standards around the country and building affordable, accessible housing.
He stressed that the disabled community should vote for Al Gore, because he “at least talks about disability issues.”
Buchalter also said that the next president will likely have the opportunity to appoint several justices to the Supreme Court. He said that Gore’s choices would be more liberal than George W. Bush’s, which would likely benefit the disabled community.
Schubert, heading into his senior year at UC Berkeley recently finished his term as president of the Cal Berkeley Democrats, a university-affiliated club.
He will be meeting with a dozen or so club members and other Young Democrats of America from across the country.
“I have been actively involved in party politics for a while,” he said. “I am looking forward to hearing the democratic speakers. I think it should energize democrats to go out and vote for the party in the November election.”
Schubert will be volunteering at the convention and working with the several hundred Young Democrats, helping communication with the media.
One factor the people attending the convention will have to deal with is heavy security and protests.
Secret service agents will control the building and hotels where delegates are staying.
Thousands are expected to take to the streets outside the Staples Center, the downtown site of the convention, and participate in protests. Police have already advised downtown businesses to expect the worst and consider closing down shop during the week.
“As long as everybody is peaceful, they have a right to be there and protest,” Buchalter said. “I would like to see our party take some of (the protesters’) ideas into consideration. I don’t know if that will happen, though.”
Schubert agreed that the protesters have a right to voice their opinions and said that the Democratic Party has traditionally supported free speech.
“The protesters are welcome, as long as they are non-violent,” Schubert said. “I don’t think it will be too much of a problem, everyone should be getting along fine and the convention should go smoothly.”
Since security will be so tight and the number of tickets to the event is limited, not everyone who wants to will be able to attend.
Councilmember Polly Armstrong said she would like to go as an “excited observer,” but has not gotten a ticket yet.
“I’m a sucker for democracy,” she said. “I love political speeches and seeing how the whole thing works.”