September 01, 2004
There has been a large amount of coverage on the National and New York media about protestors at the Republican National Convention. But I think most of the people attending the convention are not directly impacted by the demonstrations and related arrests. First of all, the area around Madison Square Garden is so closed off and secured by hundreds of police officers and security guards that none of the protests are getting very close to the actual convention. Secondly, New York is just so crowded and congested normally, and many people attending the convention do not have a means of comparison to assess whether protests are having an impact. For example, if a shuttle bus is running a half an hour late, is it because protestors are tying up traffic, or because New York is just plain crowded? There have been some incidents where the Illinois Delegation had to walk through small groups of protestors while coming and going on the sidewalks of New York. They have also been on the receiving end of verbal assaults, and a couple were spit on. But that seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Most of the people attending the convention are aware of the protestors, but they aren't having a significant impact on the event. Plus, even with the more than a thousand people arrested and lots of attention on the demonstrations, there have been only a couple of reports of injury. Many of the protestors I have talked to have said the police and the protestors have generally respected each other's space and roles. One protestor said competed to WTO Protests, the events at the RNC have been "calm and collected."
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