Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Leftist Violence in New York City


September 1, 2004 -- The demonstrations grew demonic at the Republican National Convention yesterday as protesters set fire to a traffic light, tipped over a fruit cart, tossed around garbage cans, attacked a journalist and spit on Republican conventioneers in a wave of mayhem across Manhattan.

Police said more 1000 people had been arrested by 11 p.m., but that number continued growing as the NYPD rounded up activists gathering at the New York Public Library, Herald Square, Union Square, Madison Avenue and elsewhere.

At least 16 arrests involved assaults on cops, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

The huge number of arrests did not humble those behind the anti-Bush outbursts.

"We've showed that there are thousands of people in New York who are willing to stand up to the police," said Eric Laursen, a spokesman for the A31 Action Coalition, which coordinated more than a dozen demonstrations yesterday.

"The streets of New York belong to the people."

Last night, a lot of those people were angry — and nasty.

At Madison Square Garden, the protests got physical — and a little wet — as Bush-haters roughed up and spit on GOP delegates who got caught up in the demonstration crowds as they tried to enter the convention.

One 63-year-old delegate from Mississippi told The Post he was manhandled by protesters who tried to block his way.

"I don't mind them demonstrating, but to spit on people is unbelievable," he said, as he wiped phlegm from his hat.

Shortly after 8 p.m., a crazed protester took out his anger on the media — by rushing onto the outdoor set of Chris Matthews' MSNBC talk show. He tried to grab Matthews as he interviewed Christie Whitman, but security grabbed him first and he was arrested.

The string of protests — and arrests — continued long after dark as throngs of anti-Bush activists went wild along Madison Avenue between East 26th and East 29th streets, tossing garbage cans and setting a traffic light on fire.

The mayhem caused a group of Brooklyn GOP supporters attending dinner at Scopa on East 28th Street to hole up inside until the cops cleared the area, making nearly 40 arrests.

Cops also broke out their nets and made more arrests as protesters left en masse from rallies at Union Square. On East 17th Street, some 60 people were busted for blocking a sidewalk. On East 16th Street, dozens more were arrested.

At about 9 p.m., mayhem broke out at West 35th Street and Sixth Avenue when protesters blocked a bus load of delegates from Louisiana from getting into to the Garden.

Cops swarmed in and tried to restore order, but not before protesters overturned a fruit cart filled with bananas and other victuals, some of which were quickly turned into messy missiles. More than 100 were arrested and carted away in a city bus.

Earlier in the day cops used orange plastic netting to corral and arrest protesters, including some starting off on a march by the War Resisters League and the School of the Americas Watch at the World Trade Center site.

Police said organizers of that afternoon's marches, who did not have a permit, had agreed to have their group of several thousand parade two-by-two north toward Union Square.

But witnesses said that when the head of the march got bunched up, a police supervisor ordered officers in with the netting to bust about 200 people. Some out-of-town journalists were swept up in the arrests.

"They just moved in without any warning," said David Brune, 60, a protester who called the arrests "totally unnecessary."

Other witnesses said cops first warned people to disperse, but many did not hear them.

Other protests and marches occurred in subways, in front of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, outside the Fox News Channel's Rockefeller Center studios, and outside Sotheby's auction house.

Activists at the Port Authority Bus Terminal tried to unfurl a blue banner that read "Four More Months" from the side of the fourth-floor parking lot, but it got snagged on a railing.

Cops spotted the banner and chased down the two protesters.

Also yesterday, authorities revealed details of how a Bush-hating Yale student wrestled with Secret Service agents and tried to get close to Vice President Dick Cheney Monday night at Madison Square Garden before being charged with assault.

Thomas Frampton, 21, a straight-A student and son of a prominent attorney, allegedly approached and spewed anti-war messages at Cheney after dressing up as a GOP supporter and using false credentials to get into the Garden, officials said.

Frampton, who was released on $50,000 bail, is a prominent Yale activist who has been arrested in the past, a prosecutor said.

He gained notoriety when he was among a group of Yale students who filed charges demanding the university president be fired over his handling of a labor situation at the school.

Additional reporting by Ikimulisa Livingston, Erin Calabrese, Douglas Montero, Andrea Peyser, Carl Campanile, Tatiana Deligiannakis and Angelina Cappiello