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RNC Protest Arrests Top 1,500

Thousands of protesters waving pink fliers that read "The Next Pink Slip Might Be Yours!" formed a symbolic unemployment line stretching three miles from Wall Street to the site of the Republican convention on Wednesday.

"I've been unemployed before," said Gary Goff, 57, a data processor. "I think Bush is a disaster for working people."

The peaceful demonstration came a day after police struggled to contain swarms of protesters with metal barriers and orange netting, eventually arresting nearly 1,000 demonstrators with their sights set on fortress-like Madison Square Garden.

The "unemployment line," organized by the nonprofit Washington-based People for the American Way, was part of the Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues and Ideas that called for a creative response to party politics.

"I can barely survive, and it's because of jobs going oversees," said Jerry Nowadzky, 49, of Monticello, Iowa, who claimed that two companies for which he worked had outsourced jobs to other countries.

Police said more than 1,500 people have been arrested in convention-related protests since late last week. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said police "have shown great restraint in the face of relentless provocation."

When Republican youth gathered Wednesday morning on the convention floor for an event, 10 AIDS activists rose from their ranks, blew whistles and chanted "Bush kills!" as White House chief of staff Andrew Card spoke. A scuffle broke out between protesters and event participants, and police moved in to remove the demonstrators.

As buses full of arrested protesters pulled out of a holding facility on their way to central booking Wednesday, a few hundred people gathered to cheer them on, chanting "Let them out!"

Lawyers and advocates, including 1960's protester and California activist Tom Hayden, complained about police tactics toward demonstrators and their treatment of suspects in custody.

"History was made this week," Hayden said at a news conference. "I'm here to congratulate and applaud the demonstrators and ask those who are the purveyors of fear to apologize."

Police said about 20 of the nearly 1,000 demonstrators taken into custody have requested medical treatment, but for conditions like asthma attacks, not for physical injuries.

A rally of a different kind took place at the site of the World Trade Center when about 40 family members of Sept. 11 victims prayed and urged the city to remove ashen remains from a landfill where workers sorted debris from the 2001 attacks.

The city maintains that all identifiable human remains have been removed and cites the enormous cost of removing more than 1 million tons of material that might be mingled with the blood, bone and human ashes of victims.

Protests flared Tuesday outside the New York Public Library, near the site of the fallen World Trade Center and in historic Herald and Union squares.

"People are trying to question the policies of a corrupt government. They take to the streets and don't ask permission," said protester Gan Golan, 30, a graduate student from Boston who was arrested hours later after he sat in the street and refused to stand up.

On the stone steps of the library, hundreds of protesters gathered for the march toward the Garden. Verbal confrontations erupted as police moved them from the library's front door and wrapped the entire block in orange netting. About 75 people were taken into custody, most for disorderly conduct.

About eight blocks south, demonstrators gathered in Herald Square, only a block from the convention, and lingered near police barricades into the night. One street away, protesters blocked a bus carrying convention delegates from Louisiana until police came in. About 150 people were arrested, police said.

One of those arrested late Tuesday at a demonstration in Union Square Park was a 19-year-old East Harlem man accused of beating a detective a day earlier. Police said they were charging the man with second-degree assault on a police officer.

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