The Twin Cities prepared itself for a possible onslaught of protesters -- peaceful and otherwise -- and if today is any indication there shouldn't be many big problems for police (and delegates) this week.
The anarchists, the anti-globalists, the anti-war crowd, etc...they all showed. Early estimates by police were projecting numbers in the tens-of-thousands. Every corner in downtown St. Paul seems to have at least a couple cops on it. SWAT teams, Secret Service, state police and contingencies from local constabularies are everywhere. The protesters? Well, about 8,000 showed up for an organized protest march this morning and several hundred loosely affiliated groups of troublemakers are still roaming about.
Locals are guessing that the turnout would have been better if President Bush, VP Cheney or Sen. John McCain were in town. As one police office told me, "It kinda killed their party. They don't have someone to focus their anger on."
Extra: I managed to snap a few photos of police and protesters today. Submitted, below, for your approval.
The thin blue/beige line: Police watch protesters, separated
by a fence several city blocks-long.
Behind bars: a "9-11 truther" (whose protest focused on an alleged conspiracy to attack America...by Americans) joins fellow protesters behind the "cage" adjacent to the GOP convention.
Behind the barricades: Police originally estimated that 50,000 people might show for protests. It turned out that only about 8,000 showed. (A few hundred romped around St. Paul, committing various criminal acts.)
Teary-eyed: A protester who got a face full of tear gas from police gets attention from "protest medics" and friends.
"Do a little dance": Punks/anarchists take their protests
to the street, blocking an intersection with a moving mosh pit.