Los Angeles police are gearing up for demonstrators on both sides of the Iraq war debate outside the Oscars on Sunday, but the activists won't be allowed to get within sight of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, where celebrities will be arriving for the 75th Academy Awards ceremony.
"Supposedly, there are a couple thousand demonstrators going to come out" to protest against war with Iraq, "but they will not be in the immediate area," said Capt. Mike Downing of the LAPD's Hollywood Division. "They will be located south of Sunset Boulevard, over on Orange Drive."
Downing said another, much smaller group that supports the U.S. administration's stance on Iraq has been given permission to demonstrate farther away on Sunset and will not be close to the antiwar marchers.
"I guess the message is, this is going to be an extremely safe event," Downing said. "We have a significant amount of resources deployed."
Downing said spectators along the sidewalk near the Kodak will be kept to a minimum. "There are some areas, but not very large, along Hollywood Boulevard where they can see the arrivals," he said. "The best thing to do is stay home and watch it on television."
He said police will have metal detectors on the sidewalks looking for weapons.
In addition, Hollywood Boulevard will be closed between Highland Avenue and Orange Drive for six days beginning today at 11 p.m. for construction of press risers, fan bleachers and pre-show stages. The boulevard will reopen at noon on next Monday. Additional streets will be closed on the day of the show. The Hollywood and Highland shopping complex will also be closed Sunday, but most businesses in the area will remain open.
-- Robert W. Welkos