- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2000

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Demonstrators clashed violently with police Tuesday evening, tying up the heart of the city on the second night of the Republican National Convention. At least 230 people were arrested as confrontations continued into the night.
A number of state delegations were delayed, but all were expected to arrive at the First Union Center by the 7:30 p.m. start of the evening session, officials said. Most of the activity was far from the arena where the convention is being held.
“They have slowed down or delayed some of the buses, but everyone is getting to where they have to go,'' said Jim Washington, special agent in charge of the Secret Service in Philadelphia. “We've been able to maintain stability and maintain our schedule.''
The clashes came after three days of mostly peaceful protests and few arrests. Protesters had promised Tuesday would be a day of disruptions.
“We have taken the streets,'' said Sue Kelly, 54, of Richmond, Va., participating in a march and blockade opposing the death penalty. “We just don't like Republicans and what the ruling class stands for.''
The worst exchanges came near the hotel where George W. Bush will be staying. Protesters began slashing the tires of police vehicles, dumping orange paint on some and spray-painting obscenities on others. A short time later, police responded with batons after protesters hit them.
One officer, Lt. Brad Christy, jumped out of the car with his baton drawn and chased down a protester who punched him repeatedly in the face.
The two fell to the ground, trading blows. Other protesters joined in the melee, punching the officer from behind. Several other officers immediately ran to the scene and nearly 15 fights broke out among protesters and police.
At one point, Christy said he pulled his gun out of its holster “because he felt someone pulling on it.''
“Oh my God. Don't hit me. Oh my God. I need some help over here,'' Christy said as he tried to fight off three protesters in the street.
Many wore black bandanas, torn shirts and ski masks over their faces and were dressed in black or camouflage.
Several officers appeared to suffer minor injuries and several protesters were struck in the head and chest with batons.
Eventually, about 100 police officers on bicycles stormed into the area and protesters were herded back into a small grassy area. Some protesters were arrested, although it wasn't immediately clear how many.
Scott Harold, 17, who identified himself as an anarchist, said his group had just planned a march to the Art Museum. He blamed police for the violence.
“They've been wanting to beat up on someone all weekend and we haven't been giving them the excuse,'' Harold said. “Today, their patience ran out and we saw what the police are really about serving the elite and beating the people.''
Elsewhere, numerous protests were peaceful with officers pulling away hundreds of demonstrators who sat in the street, their arms locked together by plastic pipes that made it difficult to move them. A number of protests occurred on Broad Street, a major artery through the city, and entrances to a downtown expressway.
Stefan Presser, legal director for the Philadelphia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, also blamed police.
“Today, for some reason, instead of keeping that same calm demeanor the department went out and pre-empted what I understand was to be nonviolent protest,'' he said. “Once that happened, the department is now forced to reap what it sowed.''
Lt. Susan Slawson, head of the police public affairs division, called the accusations “lame.''
“It's crazy if anybody believes it,'' Slawson said.
The 78-member Pennsylvania delegation was stuck for about two hours in its hotel near one of the nonviolent protests.
“It's ridiculous. Giving them that kind of attention is unreasonable,'' said state Rep. John Barley, R-Lancaster and a delegate. “Let's do something about it. We're captive.''
As the downtown scenes played out on television, police raided a West Philadelphia warehouse that had been a gathering place for protesters. After obtaining a search warrant, police escorted 80 people from the building, many with wrists bound by plastic handcuffs. Police said they were looking for equipment intended to be used to block traffic.
“We're peaceful puppeteers inside a studio in West Philadelphia producing peaceful street theater,'' said Matthew Hart.

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