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Inside Politics

GOP convention protest covers miles of New York

Bloomberg: Marchers 'behaved responsibly'; 250-plus arrested

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Republican Convention
New York

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of demonstrators carrying signs and chanting "No More Bush" marched Sunday past Madison Square Garden, the site of the Republican National Convention, which opened Monday.

The march was sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, a group opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Organizers had predicted as many as 250,000 demonstrators would take part. (Gallery: Scenes from the day)

Many participants said they hoped a large crowd at the protest would send a message to the rest of the country. (Special report: America Votes 2004, the Republican convention)

March organizers said they estimated the crowd size at more than 500,000. Police did not give a crowd estimate.

In some areas, protesters stood shoulder to shoulder. They stretched from 34th Street and Seventh Avenue down to Canal Street.

One marcher said it took more than two hours to walk the route, more than two miles.

"We want to take charge and reach the right people and influence them to go on and spread the message that this is a corrupt government," said Rich Cahill, a protester from New Jersey. (Full story)

New York police said they've arrested more than 250 people. One person was arrested after a paper dragon was set afire on Seventh Avenue.

There were no reports of violence, and more than 100 people were taken to a police holding pen on 57th Street.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the march was peaceful.

"United for Peace and Justice have behaved responsibly, as have most of the marchers," Bloomberg said.

Actress Rosario Dawson was one of those arrested, according to a production company shooting a movie in the midst of the march.

A New York Police Department spokeswoman said there was no information about Dawson being arrested.

Some marchers were met by a small number of counterdemonstrators who chanted "four more years" in support of the Bush administration.

Before the march, many gathered for a rally in the Chelsea area of Manhattan, south of the convention site.

"We are the majority," filmmaker Michael Moore told the crowd.

"A majority of this country opposes this war ... a majority of this country never voted for this administration."

Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, said the message revolves around the word "no."

"We are saying 'no' to the Bush agenda, 'no' to the war in Iraq, 'no' to the regime change by our government, 'no' to pre-emptive war, 'no' to the economic policies," Cagan said.

Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Moore led the protest march as it began on Seventh Avenue.

"We have an obligation to speak out until we can raise our heads above the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan," Jackson said.

"No weapons of mass destruction, we seek to rationalize the war. We challenge Mr. Bush to choose another course."

The wide avenue was a sea of protesters, with signs and banners from 23rd to 34th streets and across to Fifth Avenue.

Police set up barricades on either side of the marchers' route, which ended in Union Square.

Many demonstrators gathered later in Central Park.

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