Protestors, Police Clash Outside Convention

By: CNN
By: CNN

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) -- .Demonstrators are handcuffed Thursday evening in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

1 of 3 As a line of police clad in riot gear and walking with bicycles approached a woman who refused to get out of their way, several sprayed her with a chemical agent.

She covered her eyes with one hand and gave the two-finger peace sign with the other.

A man standing nearby yelled, "I love you! Why are you doing this?" as the woman was shoved to the pavement. Watch police spray and shove the woman »

Police who were shown video of the encounter declined to comment.

Thursday's arrests brought the total for the week to 818, authorities said.

"Most of them were cited and released," police Lt. Tracey Martin said Friday morning. Most of the citations were for the misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly, she added.

Martin said she didn't know how many protesters were jailed. A deputy at the Ramsey County Jail said "not many," but couldn't provide a number.

There were no reports of serious injuries, police said.

Protesters who had gathered near the state capitol, about a mile from the site of the convention, were repeatedly cut off as they tried to march to the convention center.

Police used tear gas when dozens of marchers -- most in their 20s, some chanting "F**k the police! F**k the police! F**k 'em!" -- tried to cross a bridge leading to the Xcel Center convention site after being warned not to. Watch the protesters march »

Minnesota State Public Safety Commissioner Michael Campion said the arrests were made at an interstate overpass that separated the marchers from the Xcel Center, where Sen. John McCain was preparing to address the GOP faithful.

He said the objective was to contain the protesters and keep them from reaching the convention hall.

Campion said the first night and the last night of the convention were expected to be big trouble, and they were.

Each time the protesters attempted to cross the interstate highway separating them from the convention center, police tried to stop them.

Police on horses, motorcycles and bicycles followed marchers on a street-to-street chase that led through a shopping mall parking lot.

A number of people wound up on the ground with their hands behind their heads. iReport.com: Cop attacked during protest

On Wednesday, the RNC Welcoming Committee, a self-described anarchist/anti-authoritarian organizing body that has been behind many of the protests, said authorities in the Twin Cities had created "a climate of intense police intimidation."

Holli Drinkwine, spokeswoman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department, denied Thursday that police used excessive force.

"The police showed great restraint in what they were doing," she said. "They were dealing with 300 criminals on the street while trying to protect the 10,000 peaceful protesters that were in St. Paul."

The American Civil Liberties Union said it was providing limited representation to many of those arrested.


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