Protesters and police came to a head on Tuesday with the arrest of nearly 300 activists after demonstrations shut down several Center City thoroughfares.
Determined to resist arrest, protesters lined Broad, Locust, Walnut and several other Philadelphia streets, linked at the arms by PVC piping. Until Tuesday, the numerous demonstrations throughout Philadelphia had remained nonviolent.
But protesters had repeatedly said that Tuesday would be their day of potential violence to protest against the death penalty and police brutality.
Hundreds took to the streets around 5 p.m. Tuesday after an afternoon of demonstration in front of the District Attorney's office downtown, forcing police to reroute the rush hour traffic -- and causing many GOP convention delegates to be late to the First Union Center for the night's activities.
"They have slowed down or delayed some of the buses, but everyone is getting to where they have to go," said Jim Washington, special agent in charge of the Secret Service in Philadelphia. And Republican National Convention spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick added that the downtown protests never caused a delay in the convention.
Things calmed down again yesterday, though protesters noted that they were currently planning ways to stop traffic during the final day of the convention.
Several police officers were injured in Tuesday's scuffles with protesters, including Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney, whose bike was picked up by protesters and used as a weapon.
"I've got a few bumps and bruises but I'm okay," Timoney said.
Four other officers were briefly hospitalized after a toxic substance was thrown in their faces.
Of the more than 280 arrests, the majority were taken into custody for misdemeanors, with one police van after another filing into police headquarters, all full of arrested protesters cuffed with plastic handcuffs. Ten, however, were arrested for assaulting a police officer.
Tuesday's protests began early in the afternoon at a warehouse at 41st and Lancaster streets where several hundred police surrounded a building they believed housed devices used to halt traffic. Over 70 protesters remained inside the warehouse for two hours while police secured a warrant to search the premises.
Protesters standing outside the warehouse denied that there were any weapons inside.
"It's puppets, paint and art supplies," said Mara, who declined to give her last name. "There's nothing illegal in there."
As they marched through Center City, protesters turned over dumpsters of trash into the streets, and marked area buildings with graffiti.
Police arrived with gas masks and pepper spray when the protesters moved to City Hall, and police responded with barons after protesters hit them.
According to Timoney, approximately 100 anarchists donning face masks matched many protesters who contributed to the property damage during the intense protesting in Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting last fall.
And also on Tuesday, police pulled over a bus filled with thousands of caged lizards and animals, saying that protesters may have planned to release the animals during a demonstration. Two men were arrested in connection with the bus.
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