New York (CNSNews.com) - An anti-GOP protest march took a violent turn Monday night just a few blocks from the hall where Republicans are holding their convention.
As throngs of protestors were marching up 8th Avenue around 8 p.m., a police officer was knocked off his scooter, setting in motion a series of events that culminated in a clash between police and protestors.
Police and some eyewitness accounts say the officer, identified as detective William Sample, was kicked and punched in the head by at least one protestor as he lay on the ground. Sample was knocked unconscious and taken to a Manhattan hospital where he was listed in serious condition, although the injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Police said there had been 11 protest-related arrests within an hour of the clash.
Protestors say police started the melee by beating them and swarming in on horseback with riot gear and forcing the marchers to dissipate.
CNSNews.com witnessed hundreds of police officers, some with riot gear and others on horseback, sweep onto 8th Avenue to begin breaking up the march.
With chants of "the whole world is watching" and shouts of "Mother f***er, f***ing pig!" the crowd of protestors began to disperse, as the police forced them off the streets.
The protestors felt the police action was unjustified.
"We were going up 8th Avenue and two plainclothes police officers swarmed in the middle with scooters and all the cops just swarmed in the crowd and started beating people," said Scott Larson of Los Angeles Indymedia in an interview with CNSNews.com as police were breaking up the protest.
"There was no provocation whatsoever. It almost looked like it was orchestrated to break up the rally," Larson said.
A white male protester verbally trashed a female African American police officer by telling her repeatedly that she had "sold out [her] own people" by becoming a policewoman.
"You people sold all that out, you sold out your own class to join the f***ing pigs. You sold out your own people. Someday you will stand before some kind of judgment," said the man, who would identify himself only as Zack from California.
When police declared that the area had to be cleared to accommodate a "medical emergency," skeptical protestors verbally struck back.
"Yeah, what did you do? Kick someone's head in? You f***ers!" screamed a male protestor to several police officers.
"Shame, shame, shame!" other protestors chanted, as many openly smoked marijuana.
'A kick in the face to New Yorkers'
Before the incident shut down the march, the protestors were eager to get their message out to any media present.
"The theme of this march is economic human rights and the idea that every American and every person in the world is guaranteed by the United Nations a right to health care, housing, education," Andrea Morrell of Brooklyn told CNSNews.com. The rally was billed as the "Still We Rise March" by advocates for social issues and the global poor.
"Clearly the Republican National Convention having their convention in New York City is just a kick in the face to New Yorkers who have historically supported those things," Morrell added.
Morrell, however, said she was no fan of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry. "I think it's a choice of worse or worser (sic)," she said.
Protestors wore T-shirts with "Enemy Combatant" or "Evil Doer" written on them to protest the Bush administration's anti terror policies.
"Just because you are a terrorist, does that mean you are a communist? I guess that is the best thing I can say," explained Zack, the protestor from California.
"I don't think it's much different from McCarthyism really, it's kind of the same thing, you know. It's going on now. It's like anybody you can claim is a terrorist -- they are screwed," Zack said.
"So everyone out here [protesting] is being pointed to as a terrorist and everybody that has got something to say -- is trying to do something about it -- is a terrorist. They are just trying to be people and doing what they do, you know. I just think it's getting all messed up" he added.
Kolby Loft, a protestor from St. Louis who is attending school in New York City, said President Bush has isolated the U.S. from the world community.
"We have made this world hate the U.S. so much that we need to tell everyone that we do not agree with this administration and where our country is going right now," Loft told CNSNews.com.
'Corporate powers' threaten earth
Many of the marchers expressed their dislike of the presidential choices for 2004.
"Such an interesting election, if you vote for Bush, it's a vote for Bush. If you vote for Kerry, it is a vote for Bush light. If you vote for [Ralph Nader], it's a vote for Bush. That means we don't have much of an election," said a man who identified himself as Luke from Washington, D.C.
"The number one threat to all earth is the corporate powers that stand behind Bush and really, stand behind Kerry as well," Luke added.
One Nader supporter explained that he has not been well received by Kerry supporters.
"They are blinded, blinded by fear and hysteria, so they treat me relatively negatively because they want to get rid of Bush but they don't understand that Kerry wants to escalate the war in Iraq -- he is worse than Bush," said Steve Ekberg of Burlington, Vt.
Ekberg said Nader couldn't act as a "spoiler" in the race because "you can't spoil a system that is spoiled to the core."
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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