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THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION

Protests Proceed in Orderly Fashion

Activism: Peaceful demonstrations replace mass disobedience that disrupted city activities.

August 03, 2000|From Times Staff Reports

PHILADELPHIA — A day after a running battle between police and protesters gridlocked this city's downtown streets, both sides took steps Wednesday to keep the calm during the third day of the Republican National Convention.

Protesters staged orderly marches and held a peaceful rally in a park across the street from the city jail, where more than 350 demonstrators arrested Tuesday were being held, mostly on misdemeanor charges. Fifty arrests were reported Wednesday.

Throughout the day, officers questioned several activists about Tuesday's mass disobedience.

Seventeen officers were reported hurt in Tuesday's demonstrations. The bulk of the injuries were minor, however, although one officer remained hospitalized for injuries he suffered after being hit in the head with a police bicycle.

At a news conference, Police Commissioner John Timoney offered assurances that the "Philadelphia Police Department is in control of the operation. Make no mistake about it, we won't tolerate any violence."

Protesters also complained of casualties--including a broken wrist, a broken thumb and numerous other injuries--and said they were striving to remain peaceful because they feared their wide-ranging messages were lost in the confusion of Tuesday's melees.

Organizers expressed dismay over reports that police officers had been attacked by scattered bands of demonstrators. "Because we are dedicated to nonviolence, we are really concerned when any human being does violence to another human being," said Matt Ruben, a spokesman for a coalition of protest groups.

On Wednesday morning, police took into custody John Sellers, 35, of Berkeley, a well-known activist who is director of the Ruckus Society protest training camp. Deputy Commissioner Robert Mitchell told officers who led Sellers peacefully into a police car that Sellers "is in the papers all over the world for teaching nonviolence and civil disobedience." Mitchell declined to say specifically why Sellers was detained.

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Times staff writers Nicholas Riccardi and Tina Daunt contributed to this story.

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