- The Washington Times - Friday, September 3, 2004

NEW YORK — The protesters this week had their say at the Republican National Convention, but extensive security plans that had been in place for months in advance of the conference never needed to be deployed.

“We had a five-stage security plan but only enacted the first stage,” said Joseph Sordi, chief executive officer of Strategic Security Corporation, a private firm that provided security for many of the high-profile events across the city this week.

A massive intelligence-gathering effort by both law-enforcement agencies and private security firms were responsible for the diminished disruptive effect of the protesters, he said.

“We knew where the protesters were going to be, even at the unannounced [protests] and had a plan to deal with that in place,” Mr. Sordi said. “We also had plans to deal with protesters at events and they didn’t even show up.”

Nearly 2,000 demonstrators have been locked up this week, roughly 65 percent from out of town, police said.

Yesterday, a state Supreme Court judge held the city in contempt for holding 560 prisoners in jail in defiance of a court order. Those ordered released were found to have been in detention for 36 hours.

Earlier, Justice John Cataldo ordered the city to release the protesters who had been arrested over the past several days, most of them for misdemeanors.

Activists asserted that the police intentionally kept protesters in jail until the end of the convention so that they could not return to the streets. Police denied the claim, saying it was “part of a deliberate misinformation campaign.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the vast number of arrests had created a backup.

“It just takes a while to go through the normal process,” he said at a press conference.

Protests continued yesterday, continuing the week’s theme of anti-Republican vitriol. Several thousand demonstrators gathered last night four blocks from Madison Square Garden, where President Bush gave his acceptance speech.

Their thunder was stolen briefly when about 30 pro-Bush marchers from the Republican Protest Warriors showed up, signs in hand, chanting “Four more years.”

Police first directed the rebels into the same area as the anti-Bush demonstrators, and a minor verbal confrontation ensued between the “warriors” and the protesters.

Police then pulled the pro-Bush demonstrators out of the crowd and erected a separate pen for the Republicans, who were surrounded by police to avoid anything more than verbal altercations.

Other anti-Republican demonstrators lined the sidewalks of Broadway, some hanging their signs off the metal police barricades that kept them out of the street.

In Union Square, a crowd of Bush foes gathered around radios and laptop computers to listen to and watch the speech, which was broadcast via the Web.

“I really can’t take this,” said one spectator as the president accepted his party’s nomination.

While police and city officials are proclaiming this week a success, protesters also claimed victory.

Groups of all liberal persuasions paraded their causes, from the Socialist Party USA to the comparatively mainstream National Organization for Women.

The protest Sunday, for example, was one of the largest ever, with crowd estimates between 200,000 and 500,000. It was organized by United for Peace and Justice, which claims an anti-Bush agenda.

“This galvanized people across the country and around the world,” said Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United for Peace and Justice. “Even for people who might support the president, this has been a great week just to get people excited about politics, and the people who came here were sending a message. This week has been a phenomenon that is beyond Democrats and Republicans.”

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