More Arrests at World Economic Forum, but Protests Mostly Peaceful
NEW YORK – Police made the largest number of arrests to date during the fourth day of mostly peaceful street demonstrations surrounding the World Economic Forum.
One case of vandalism was reported and 159 people were arrested at two separate events Sunday. The total arrested so far during the meeting grew to over 200, mostly for disorderly conduct.
Police didn't expect much to change on Monday, the final day of the forum.
"I think it's gone — from the police department's perspective — well," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
One of the few incidents of property destruction came late Sunday afternoon about a mile to the north. Protesters in an animal-rights march heading toward the hotel smashed a glass door and threw a balloon filled with red paint at an apartment building. Police halted the march, which had grown to 200 people, but let it start up again.
Police later arrested 68 of the protesters after some lay down in an intersection about 15 blocks from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and refused to move. Officers halted the march and dispersed the activists.
Earlier in the day, police said they arrested 91 activists for disrupting traffic by marching in the street on the Lower East Side, about 3 miles from the hotel. They were charged with disorderly conduct.
"The protest looked like a field trip or a school outing," said Tim Becker, who followed the protest. "It was nonviolent and peaceful. The police instigated it."
Before Sunday, police had arrested 46 people in the first three days of the forum, which has been free of violence that has accompanied protests at international summits in recent years.
The New York forum — which attracted 7,000 protesters at its height on Saturday — has drawn far fewer activists than the estimated 50,000 who came to Seattle and the 100,000 who came to Genoa, Italy, for global economic conferences.
In the days before the forum, police made a public display of their crowd-control training, and newspapers trumpeted the security measures with front-page headlines calling midtown Manhattan an "Armed Camp." The city had braced for the worst, deploying 4,000 officers.
"People were more afraid — it was such a show of force. And now that there has been conflict at several of these types of events, I think police have a lot more leeway to use that force," said one activist, Alabama Evers, 19, who wore the characteristic black and red of the anarchy movement.