NEW YORK – Protesters waved symbolic pink slips along a three-mile "unemployment line," labor unions demanded better treatment of workers and a group of AIDS activists infiltrated the site of the Republican convention Wednesday, as arrest totals soared beyond 1,700 for the past week.
The arrests, including several Wednesday, far surpass those made in much more violent circumstances at Chicago's 1968 Democratic convention. Two well-known figures from that era alleged that police are now using more subtle tactics to stifle dissent.
Chicago Seven" veteran Tom Hayden (search) spoke with activist lawyer Leonard Weinglass (search) on Wednesday outside a holding facility for suspects awaiting the trip to central booking — many of them yet to be processed from Tuesday evening, when more than 1,000 people were arrested.
"I'm here to congratulate and applaud the demonstrators and ask those who are the purveyors of fear to apologize," said Hayden, whose arrest in 1968 became a cause celebre. In all, 589 people were arrested during the rioting in Chicago.
"We no longer have the spectacle of police officers beating down protesters in front of the cameras," Weinglass said. "But you do have more subtle forms of repression, as represented by this building."
Nineteen people had been arrested as of Wednesday evening in various parts of Manhattan.
Twelve arrests came inside Madison Square Garden. First daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush had just finished introducing White House chief of staff Andrew Card (search) to a gathering of young Republicans when whistle-blowing demonstrators from an AIDS activist group jumped to their feet, chanting, "Bush lies! Drop the debt! Stop AIDS!"
A scuffle broke out, and one young Republican suffered a cut near his temple after he was allegedly struck by a protester. One of the demonstrators, with authorities grabbing her knees and shoulders, was carried off the floor to cheers.
Outside Madison Square Garden, thousands of pink slip-waving protesters formed a symbolic unemployment line stretching from Wall Street to the convention site.
About 100 protesters marched and danced around Battery Park wearing panties emblazoned with anti-Bush slogans, and more than 1,000 people attended a rally in Central Park sponsored by the National Organization for Women.
Police arrested 1,187 people on Tuesday, when protesters followed through on their promise of widespread civil disobedience. Police spokesman Paul Browne denied accusations of mistreatment.
"There was very disciplined restraint throughout the ranks," he said.
Police said 20 of those arrested requested medical treatment for conditions like asthma, but none for physical injuries. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties union, agreed that police were not violent — but she questioned their tactics.
"A lot of the arrests were bad, but they weren't brutal," Lieberman said. "I think police were psyched up yesterday to make a lot of arrests, and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy."