Protestors disrupt RNC youth event inside Madison Square Garden
NEW YORK -- A dozen AIDS activists yesterday breached the elaborate security cordon at the site of the Republican National Convention, a local man was arrested for beating a police officer unconscious, and police adopted even tighter measures with the arrival of President Bush last night.
The activists apparently acquired the necessary passes and slipped into Madison Square Garden, shouting anti-Bush slogans. The security breach came a day after a Yale University student tried to enter Vice President Dick Cheney's box in the arena to protest administration policies and was arrested by Secret Service agents.
Secret Service officials stressed that from the agency's point of view a security breach did not occur, technically, because the intruders had the passes identifying them as delegates or party volunteers. They had to go through multiple layers of security and in theory were where they were allowed to be. ''But they were not who the convention committee wanted to be there," said a Secret Service official who asked not to be named. The official said the Republican National Committee was investigating how the protesters got the passes.
Later, during Vice President Dick Cheney's speech, a protester from Code Pink Women for Peace stood in the audience and unfurled a small banner that read: ''Cheney and Halliburton: Making a Killing in Iraq." The woman, wearing a bright pink dress, was immediately tackled by a swarm of security officers. Cheney paused for about a minute as they removed her from the convention floor, while the crowd chanted ''four more years!" and then burst into applause when she was gone.
Ilyse Hogue, a spokeswoman for the group, said in an interview that the protester was Gael Murphy, 50, of Washington D.C., and that Murphy had been to Iraq ''several times, both before and after the bombings" Hogue said Murphy had obtained a pass to the convention, but declined to explain how she had been able to do so.
After nearly a week of protests, more than 1,700 arrests, and concerns that more anti-Bush activists could disrupt the last day of the convention, federal and local officials said that security was being stepped up even further.
''There are things we will do differently tomorrow," Deputy New York Police Chief Michael Collins said in an interview, noting that any time a president comes to a city standard procedure calls for shutting down additional roadways and maintaining a tighter bubble around him and his entourage.
But today is different, officials said: The president and vice president will both be on hand at a time when intelligence officials remain concerned that Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups are planning attacks to upend the US election in November.
''We will be even more vigilant, with more people on site," said Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service, which is running the security operation. ''And we will ensure people are in the properly authorized places." Continued...