With the Republican National Convention ending tonight, nearly 1,800 protesters have been arrested on the streets. The New York Times reports that the demonstrations have barely interrupted the convention narrative and have drawn little national news coverage. “Using large orange nets to divide and conquer, and a near-zero tolerance policy for activities that even suggest the prospect of disorder,” says the Times, New York police are using a pre-emptive strike policy, cutting off demonstrations before they grow large or unruly enough to affect the convention.
The demonstrations have been more restrained than recent protests elsewhere; five years ago in Seattle, there was arson and window-smashing. Lacking bloody scenes of billy-club-wielding police or clouds of tear gas, the cameras have focused elsewhere. Said ABC’s Ted Koppel: “What you are not getting here is a replay of 1968 in Chicago.” Even if the protesters wound up shouting mostly to themselves, the Bush campaign also was not able to blame any problems on the Democratic nominee, John Kerry. “So far, operationally, this has been a success for the department; things have gone well,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “We started 18 months ago. A lot of hard work by a lot of people, and so far it’s paid off.” Said Kevin Sheekey, an adviser to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “When the mayor bid for this convention, part of his argument was that New York City had the only police force to deal with a modern anarchist threat.” He added, “Obviously the Police Department has done that astoundingly well.”