On a side note, is it just me, or are the female "Pro-War" demonstrators generally MUCH hotter than the female "Anti-War" demonstrators?


In City, Protests Heating Up
Police weary of costly diversions


By Melanie Lefkowitz and Pete Bowles
STAFF WRITERS

March 27, 2003


Tens of thousands of marchers through midtown. Demonstrators lying down in the streets. Protests every day in Union Square. A coalition of anti-war groups planning to crash the "Today" show.

As the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq moves into its second week, the local protest movement is gaining momentum and police are growing wearier of responding to each event. Yesterday, several groups announced their plans to hold a "Die-In" this morning in Rockefeller Center, representing war victims by lying down in intersections and hoping to snarl traffic and "disrupt business as usual" to broadcast their opposition to the war.

"We will make people aware of what is happening in Iraq and make them stop and think that people are dying as they go about their lives," said Cheree Dillon, a spokeswoman for the M27 Coalition, an umbrella organization for dozens of anti-war groups.

Activists employed a similar technique at last week's massive anti-war protests in San Francisco, which closed down streets and led to thousands of arrests.

As part of today's planned demonstration, Dillon said, hundreds of protesters will converge in front of the windows of NBC-TV's "Today" show. They don't plan to halt the show, she said, "but if that is one of the consequences, so be it."

Though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly did not want to discuss the specifics of what he expects to happen at the scattershot protests, he said the ongoing roll of demonstrations is taking its toll on an already swamped department.

"We have finite resources, so you have to juggle these things," he said. "We have to anticipate violence or prepare for violence."

Coverage of the massive anti-war march held Saturday cost the NYPD an estimated $1.2 million, Kelly said. That's in excess of the $5-million bill for Operation Atlas' first week, he said.

The vast majority of more than 125,000 marchers on Saturday demonstrated peacefully, but a small contingent clashed with police at the march's end in Washington Square Park. Kelly said nearly half of the 91 people arrested Saturday were from out of town, and he believes a handful of people were simply "bent on having a violent confrontation with police."

Whatever happens today or at any of the protests planned for every day this week, Kelly said, the police will be ready.

"We're prepared to respond; we have certainly a lot of experience in this area," he said. "I don't know if people are out to disrupt life in the city. This is more than a protest, more than free speech - we're talking about violating the law."