Republican National Convention
Tuesday, August 01, 2000

Protesters, police keep problems to a minimum

By Christopher Newton
The Associated Press

        PHILADELPHIA — Thousands of homeless activists caused traffic headaches but few other problems Monday as a third day of Republican National Convention-related protests remained peaceful with only 11 arrests.

        While police threatened to arrest demonstrators for the homeless who walked in the streets, officials acquiesced almost immediately when the group — led by about 80 children and 20 people in wheelchairs — started marching in the roadway. The impromptu parade extended 4 miles from City Hall to within a block of the convention site, ending in a city park set aside for demonstrations. There were no arrests.

        “We know that some people inside the convention would have loved for us to have a confrontation and get thrown in jail, but we weren't going to let that happen today,” protest organizer Cheri Honkala said.

        The officers were similarly restrained.

        “We wanted to give these people every opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights,” police Capt. William Fisher said.

        Several groups created minor disturbances Monday morning, including nine people arrested after blocking a street during morning rush hour to protest the Army's School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., which trains Latin American officers in combat techniques. Critics blame the school for human rights abuses in Central America.

        Two other activists were arrested Monday afternoon for climbing a fence along the outer perimeter surrounding the convention site.

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