Protesters start to get nasty

I was hoping I’d be wrong about this but I’m afraid I wasn’t:

Outside a hotel in Times Square, delegates to the Republican National Convention were swarmed by protesters dressed in black and swearing at them. Blocks away, delegates engaged in shoving matches with protesters seeking to spoil their night at the theater. And outside “The Lion King” on 42nd Street, a delegate was punched by a protester who ran by.

Although the organized protests yesterday and Sunday have been largely peaceful, there has been a starkly different tone to smaller incidents in Midtown and elsewhere: angry encounters and planned harassment of convention delegates as they go out on the town.

Sometimes the delegates answer back in toe-to-toe, finger-pointing shouting matches. Other times the police, who are guarding delegate gatherings, have dispersed protesters, who move on to other locations to taunt other delegates.

The harassment of delegates came as organized protests continued to draw thousands of people. The Still We Rise march by advocates for social issues was peaceful, and a Poor People’s March, a column several blocks long, proceeded from the United Nations to the Madison Square Garden yesterday after the police decided to let it go ahead without a permit.

When marchers approached the Garden, a police detective was knocked off his scooter. He was then repeatedly kicked and punched in the head by at least one male demonstrator, the police said.

The detective, William Sample, was listed in serious condition at St. Vincent’s Manhattan Hospital, where Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly both visited him, the police said. There was no immediate word of an arrest in the assault, but as of 9 p.m., the police said there had been 11 protest-related arrests.