NEW YORK - Vowing to counter the "Bush agenda of greed and war at home and abroad," thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday in a day of civil disobedience and direct action that led to the arrest of hundreds as clashes broke out last night with police.
Two days after an anti-Bush march attracted more than 100,000 demonstrators, activists and anarchists from dozens of groups protested without permits across Manhattan as police on motorcycles and bicycles swarmed to control them.
As protesters tried to surround Madison Square Garden, a fight broke out with police outside the New York Public Library, and demonstrators confronted delegates with bitter denunciations of the Bush administration.
Before last night, 700 people had been arrested since Thursday in demonstrations across New York City against the U.S.-led war in Iraq and other Bush administration policies.
Several delegates have reported harassment from protesters, but Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett said he had not heard of any problems within Ohio's 179-member delegation. "We told people if they're out walking by themselves, don't obviously wear a lot of George Bush stuff and don't carry your credentials out where they can be seen," Mr. Bennett said.
Police announced the arrest of a 21-year-old Yale student after he entered a restricted area near Vice President Dick Cheney's booth at the convention Monday night, coming within 10 feet of him and shouting anti-war and anti-Bush statements. No weapon was found on the man.
At 7:15 last night, 30 protesters from a San Francisco-based anti-war group were dragged into police wagons after they sat in the intersection of West 33rd Street and Broadway, a long block from Madison Square Garden, site of the Republican National Convention.
"This is an autonomous group of citizens taking over the street as a dissent to the Bush administration," said Brooke Atherton, a 26-year-old secretary and member of Direct Action to Stop the War. "We don't support the empire that the Bush administration is building around the world."
At about the same time, 200 anti-Bush protesters following a marching band from Union Square were corralled by police using interlocking barricades. Dozens of arrests were reported.
Elizabeth Broad, 25, took part in a vigil at 3 p.m. with members of the War Resisters League at the site of the World Trade Center.
"I'm honoring those who died on Sept. 11 in that tragedy and honoring the dead in Afghanistan and those who continue to die in Iraq," Ms. Broad said.
As 200 protesters left the vigil to march to the convention site, police used barricades to pen them in and arrested them.
"It was a pre-emptive arrest," said Doyle Danning, a member of the A31 Action Coalition. Her umbrella group organized the day of civil disobedience and direct action. She said protesters had adhered to police instructions to walk two-by-two on the sidewalk.
After the arrests, the remaining protesters marched to West 29th Street and Broadway, where they lay down and were arrested in a "die-in" to honor those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Ms. Broad said.
Several protesters said references to 9/11 during the convention have angered them. "People are getting locked up so that Rudy Guiliani and George W. Bush can use 9/11 to justify their police state," said Geoffrey Blank, co-founder of the No Police State Coalition.
About 500 protesters gathered in lower Manhattan at about noon yesterday for a march to the building that houses the federal Bureau of Immigrant and Customs Enforcement.
Jessica Rodriguez, an anarchist from Philadelphia who helped organize the protest, said the Bush administration unjustly has detained, deported, and "scapegoated" immigrants from Arab countries after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"We're sending a unified message to those who support the Bush agenda: If they want to continue their unlimited war, we're not down with that and they're going to have to step over us," said Michael Lubrano, 40, a computer analyst from Seattle.
After negotiating with police to open two lanes of traffic, the protesters chanted "Open up the borders, close the [Republican National Convention]."
Halting at a small park for a "street theater," demonstrators gathered around 10 protesters with their hands tied behind their backs. Hoods were placed over their heads to make them look like detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
''We don't care if you are U.S. citizens or illegal aliens," a protester acting as a military officer told them. "You are enemy combatants. You don't have any rights."
During the street theater, police arrested a protester who had climbed a tree.
Earlier, police said they arrested 24 people - 17 for blocking traffic on foot or on bicycles in the Wall Street financial district and six for wearing masks at a subway station in Harlem. The protesters, dressed in black, said they were representing "all the dead in the latest imperial war against Iraq."
On Monday night, a police officer on a scooter was hurt as protesters approached Madison Square Garden. A police officer said the detective was knocked off his scooter and kicked and punched by a protester. Four other officers suffered minor injuries. The detective, William Sample, was in St. Vincent's Manhattan Hospital.
Shahid Buttar, an attorney from Washington and volunteer for an anarchist group, said police provoked the clash by driving into a crowd.
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Vowing to counter the "Bush agenda of greed and war at home and abroad," thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday in a day of civil disobedience and direct action that led to the arrest of hundreds as clashes broke out last night with police.