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In downtown L.A., coping with the hottest day ever

September 27, 2010 |  3:28 pm

Despite the heat, life went on Monday.

Parents picked their kids up at school. Meter maids doled out tickets. And, this being Los Angeles, people protested. A march for immigration reform in downtown Los Angeles seemed slightly hampered by the heat.

Victor Quintero, 23, sweat dripping from his curly black hair, said that if the temperature hadn’t been so high, there might have been more people than the two dozen protesters who showed up. After several blocks of marching and shouting slogans in support of the Dream Act, Quintero tipped back his head and drank thirstily from a water bottle. He started laughing.

“It’s hot water!” he said. “It’s boiling hot water.”

Quintero spent the summer in Arizona, organizing people against the state’s recent anti-immigration law and “learning how to battle the heat and search for shade.” Although Monday’s heat was tough, Quintero said, “it’s not as bad as Arizona.”

On a street corner a few hundred feet away, Jim Root looked quizzically at the activists gathered in front of the Ronald Reagan State Building.

“What are they protesting?” Root asked two friends who, like him, were attorneys with the attorney general’s office. “That’s commitment.”

Root and his colleagues were wearing button-up dress shirts and slacks. “Our dress code policy has not yet incorporated cargo shorts,” he said.

Ed Skelly held up his tie, knotted tightly around his neck.

“It’s part of the job description,” he said.

The men, red-faced and damp with sweat, had taken precautions against the heat. Mike Whitaker was carrying a cup of water. “I don’t usually walk around with water,” he explained.

Just then a gust of hot air swept up the street. “It’s like a furnace blast!” Root said.

Then the men crossed the street and returned to the cool, air-conditioned sanctuary of their office.

-- Kate Linthicum in downtown L.A.

Photo: Jessica Ramirez, left, runs ahead of her friend Haydee Escalante, right, as they race through the music center fountain downtown. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Photos: Hottest day in L.A. ever … since 1877, anyway