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Friday, July 23, 2004

Convention notes from all over

Apparently, the New York Police Department is planning a real hoe-down for the Republican National Convention. No word on whether any delegates caught with hookers will be placed in solitary confinement.....NYPD Floats A Prison Ferry At Convention:
When Tom DeLay and the Republicans proposed spending the week of the Republican National Convention on a cruise liner in New York Harbor, they were laughed off the water.

A few months later, however, the New York Police Department was mulling its own harbor cruise—a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry for unruly convention protesters.

The NYPD considered turning the troubled commuter ferry into a prison barge for some of the thousands of activists who could be arrested during the convention. A police official approached the city’s Department of Transportation in May with the ferry plan, one city official said. And Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne confirmed that converting the ferry into a floating prison "was discussed as an option."

That the ferry plan was even considered attests to the sheer volume of arrests anticipated during the four days of the convention, which runs from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in Madison Square Garden. Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and other law-enforcement officials have said that they will be ready to process as many as 1,000 arrests each day. That worst-case scenario would mark the largest set of mass arrests in America since May Day, 1971, when the last major protest of the Vietnam War ended with police and National Guardsmen herding 13,000 demonstrators onto the playing field at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

"There is the potential for mass arrests this time," said Miami Police Chief John Timoney, a former top official in the New York Police Department who was responsible for security at the Democratic National Convention here in 1992.

The behind-the-scenes scramble for prison space underlines the massive security challenges that face political conventions and other major American events, and it offers a glimpse at the sprawling set of preparations concealed behind those friendly ads starring Ed Koch and an elephant. Even as they scramble for jail space, officials are collecting antidotes to various poisons and studying the effects of a bomb blast on Madison Square Garden. They’re also setting up barriers in city streets and bringing in detectors for biological and chemical toxins.


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