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JOHN BREAM

Sep. 4--There were two different messages Wednesday night at Target Center -- one outside, another inside.
A blur of blue surrounded the downtown Minneapolis arena. "I've never seen police presence like this in Minneapolis," said Bobby the Brain, a ticket tout who is a fixture at concerts and events. "I've seen this in France and Spain for the Olympics and the World Cup."
The event that brought more than 100 uniformed officers -- on horses, on bicycles and on foot, all carrying batons and most with riot helmets on their belts -- was Rage Against the Machine, a hard-rocking, vitriolically rapping band that has been a champion of the disenfranchised.
Inside, Rage's message was obvious from what the lights over the stage spelled out during intermission: R-N-C [expletive] Y-O-U.
Rage Against the Machine is the most pulverizing, galvanizing and exhilarating protest band in the history of popular music. On Wednesday, concertgoers stood and bobbed their heads, shook their fists or pogoed to the loud, unrelenting full-metal racket.
While the Los Angeles quartet chose to play concerts in Denver during the Democratic National Convention and in Minneapolis this week, did the 13,000 fans really come for the protest? Frankly, it appeared most came for the party.
The main floor turned into probably Minneapolis' most active mosh pit of all time, although it wasn't as aggressive as, say, a Metallica concert. There were no homemade protest signs either.
"I came for the music," said Lindsay Carlson, 25, of Rogers. "I don't protest. I love watching all the crazy kids down [on the floor]."
Her boyfriend, hair-metal fan Jake Armstrong, 39, was shaking his head to the music all night long. "This is unbelievable," he said of his first Rage concert. "It's better than I expected. The energy is amazing."
The band, however, came with a message. "The war is outside these doors," frontman Zack de la Rocha emphasized early during "Testify."
That's what Minneapolis police were concerned about. "We're under the RNC [Republican National Convention], so we've gotten intelligence that there may be issues," Doyle said in an interview. He said his department was briefed by a police official from Los Angeles, where a Rage concert during the 2000 Democratic National Convention ended with a clash between police and fans.
Laura Holt, 25, of Minneapolis, saw Rage in Chicago this summer. She digs the Los Angeles-based band "because of what they have to say, what they believe about peace and equality." Her only concern was that volatile singer De la Rocha might provoke a demonstration.
At the end, he told the crowd, "When we leave here, let's prove to [police] we've got more discipline than they do."
After concert, about 70 arrested
As Rage Against the Machine fans exited the Target Center around 10:40 p.m., they encountered a large police presence on 1st Avenue N. -- and plenty of journalists, too.
Near the arena's main entrance, dozens of people lingered and chanted, "Hey, Minneapolis, raise up your fists!" But no scuffles broke out.
Said concertgoer Ian McDonnell of St. Cloud as he surveyed the lines of police in riot gear: "All we wanted to do is see a band and leave peacefully. This is absolutely overkill. It's not needed."
Some fans took photos of police in riot gear. Some even posed for pictures with them.
In a couple of instances as lines of police faced lines of fans -- some yelling profanities and others making peace signs -- officers slowly backed off, bringing cheers from the crowds.
As midnight approached and clusters of people continued to clog 1st Avenue N. in the areas of 6th and 7th Streets N., an officer with a bullhorn warned that if the street were not cleared soon, a chemical irritant might be used to get people moving. Many people then moved onto sidewalk areas, and the avenue was soon opened to traffic.
But some scuffles followed, and by 12:30 p.m., about 70 more protesters had been arrested on Second Avenue S. and S. 7th Street, police said.

Story From: Star Tribune
 
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