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Protesters Request GOP Convention Permits

About a dozen groups have requested permits to stage protests at the Republican National Convention (search), city authorities said Monday, a day before the deadline for such requests.

City officials have encouraged protest organizers to apply by Tuesday to allow enough time to consider their demands against concerns about terrorism, traffic and unauthorized protests during the four-day gathering. The convention is scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Madison Square Garden in midtown Manhattan.

Anti-war groups seeking permits include United for Peace and Justice, Not In Our Name and Code Pink-Women for Peace, along with the Green Party, the National Council of Arab Americans and various civil rights and labor groups.

The Great Lawn in Central Park, Times Square, Union Square, the Brooklyn Bridge and Riverside Park are among the locations requested for events that could start as early as Aug. 22.

City officials have not discussed how quickly permits would be considered, or on what basis. Applicants, including some who filed permit requests more than a year ago, have received letters saying the city would consider all requests at once before making any decisions.

Meanwhile, negotiations over the largest event by far — a United for Peace and Justice demonstration that organizers expect to draw 250,000 people — appear to have stalled.

The city parks department already has rejected the group's request to use the Great Lawn, claiming the projected crowd was beyond the area's capacity. The group has threatened to sue if Mayor Michael Bloomberg refuses to overturn the ruling.

United for Peace and Justice also has an application pending with the Police Department to march on Madison Square Garden, which has been a subject of sporadic negotiations.

Last week, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly released a letter to a lawyer for the group accusing its leadership of procrastinating.

"It will simply not be possible to accommodate the UPJ event unless the details of the plan are resolved promptly," Kelly wrote.

Bill Dobbs, a spokesman for United For Peace and Justice, said Kelly was "overreacting."

In what he described as a concession, Kelly disclosed that the department would allow protesters to demonstrate directly outside Madison Square Garden. One proposal by police would have protesters march past the arena on either Seventh or Eighth Avenue to a rally site on a blocked-off section of the West Side Highway.