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More Arrests on Day 3 as Protests Seem to Ease

Activists infiltrate the convention floor. Police are accused of poorly kept detention sites.

September 02, 2004|David Zucchino | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — After Tuesday's protests and confrontations, the third day of the Republican National Convention was relatively calm as police and demonstrators seemed to pause Wednesday to catch their breath.

Protest groups held noisy but nonviolent rallies throughout Manhattan, promoting labor and women's rights and criticizing the war in Iraq. They were watched warily by throngs of police who kept sidewalks cleared of protesters while making about 20 arrests by nightfall.

During Vice President Dick Cheney's speech, a woman identified as Gael Murphy of the activist group Code Pink was dragged off by security personnel after stripping off a jacket and revealing a pink slip with the words: "Cheney's in bed with Halliburton and we got screwed." Another Code Pink activist, Tiffany Burns of Los Angeles, raised a banner saying: "Cheney and Halliburton are making a killing in Iraq." Both were arrested.

At one rally, lawyers and civil rights groups accused police of indiscriminate arrests during Tuesday's demonstrations, alleging that officers had not given protesters opportunities to disperse. The lawyers also described what they said were dirty and dangerous conditions at temporary detention facilities.

More than 1,150 people were arrested Tuesday, police said, most for blocking sidewalks or for disorderly conduct. Police have made at least 1,700 arrests since the protests began last week. By comparison, 589 people were arrested during the violent 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago.

For the third consecutive day, protesters managed to pierce the police cordon around Madison Square Garden, site of the convention. A dozen AIDS activists inside the hall interrupted a noontime speech by White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. to young Republicans -- including President Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara.

The activists stood on chairs and hoisted signs that urged U.S. officials to relieve the debt burdens of African nations to help pay for AIDS prevention and treatment. The group ACT UP took responsibility for the protest.

Police said that a cameraman and a young Republican convention-goer were slightly injured.

On Monday night, an antiwar protester had come within a few feet of Cheney before being arrested. Tuesday night, two antiwar activists were arrested inside Madison Square Garden after raising signs protesting the war in Iraq.

One of the convention's most violent incidents occurred late Monday, when a plainclothes officer was punched and kicked by a young man outside the convention site, according to a police report. Det. William Sample was released from a hospital Wednesday , police said.

Jamal Holiday, 19, was arrested Tuesday as he attended a demonstration and charged with second-degree assault.

Bruce Bentley, a member of the National Lawyers Guild, accused police of beating some protesters Tuesday and roughly forcing many others to the ground. Among those caught up in the wave of arrests were four legal observers from the guild.

Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said police duped protesters by negotiating approved marching routes, then intercepting marchers and trapping them in makeshift pens.

Lieberman said protesters were forced to sleep on oily concrete floors smeared with chemicals at a former bus repair facility on Pier 57. She said the city had promised to cover the floors with carpeting. Officials in the office of the deputy commissioner for public information would not comment on the detention facilities.

Police spokesman Paul Browne denied that police acted improperly in arresting protesters. "There was very disciplined restraint throughout the ranks," he said.

Protesters on Broadway near Wall Street waved pink slips listing unemployment statistics and a warning: "The next pink slip might be yours."


Times staff writer Josh Getlin contributed to this report.

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