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Protests Hit Herald Square as Shopping Day Ends

NEW YORK — As the second night of the Republican National Convention was set to begin, hundreds of protesters brought Herald Square to a halt.<BR><BR>The crowd that had been rallying outside the New York Public Library headed to Herald Square....

NEW YORK — As the second night of the Republican National Convention was set to begin, hundreds of protesters brought Herald Square to a halt.

The crowd that had been rallying outside the New York Public Library headed to Herald Square. Hundreds of police officers, including some in riot gear arrived on the scene, blocked off traffic and cordoned off each corner at the junction of 34th Street, Sixth Avenue and Broadway. Demonstrators clapped, chanted and waved anti-Bush signs and jeered at buses of delegates making their way to Madison Square Garden.

One protester, Sarah Kowal, 29, said the group at the library began to disperse after police started throwing large nets around protesters. They decided to walk to Herald Square in small groups to avoid any police interference, she said.

At 7:15 p.m. a police officer said he did not believe there had been any arrests at Herald Square by that point, but protesters said there had been some outside the library.

En route from the RNC, Ohio delegate Kathy Bollon said the frenzied scene was the reception she expected to find in New York. “But it’s OK,” she said. “They have the right.”

The chaos didn’t stop Monica Cardenas from buying underwear at Victoria’s Secret. But most of the store’s shoppers appeared to be taking refuge from the crush of people outside. “We’d like to think they’re shopping,” a company spokesman shrugged.

Foot traffic on 34th Street was much heavier on Tuesday compared with Monday.

At the Banana Republic and Ann Taylor Loft stores on the street, shopping was light, mostly people who work in the area. The H&M store nearby was quieter than usual, but still had some back-to-school buying.

The Gap store was much busier, with tourists mixing with locals.

Elina Kazan, director of publicity for Macy’s East, said overall store traffic at the flagship has been positively impacted by the RNC. “We’ve got some healthy traffic down there on the main floor….We’ve seen a little pickup from tourist and delegate traffic.”

This story first appeared in the September 1, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.