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Delegates arrive to angry protestors

NEW YORK — Some Ohioans were told to turn their GOP T-shirts inside out and hide convention credentials to be more low-key about their party passion.

Other delegates said anti-Bush protesters made obscene gestures and yelled profanities at them. In neighborhoods and boroughs far from Madison Square Garden, New York residents taped anti-Republican signs to their apartment windows.

As the Republican convention began not everyone in New York was rolling out the welcome mat.

Florida delegate Sid Dinerstein was walking the few blocks between his Sixth Avenue hotel and a restaurant on Sunday evening when he said a protester pushed his way in front of him, blew a whistle in his face and yelled “Go Home!”

Dinerstein, who grew up in Brooklyn, said he was unaffected and didn’t plan to change any of his plans to accommodate those who may be less-than-

welcoming.

Missouri delegate John Winston, 58, of suburban St. Louis., said he had been cursed at and told to go home — or elsewhere — by protesters.

For the most part, he was understanding.

“Most of them are young,” Winston said. “All of us, when you’re young, go through a stage when you want to rebel.”

While there was plenty of grumbling, New York police said Monday no official complaints had been filed.

George Artz, a New York political consultant who has worked with former Mayor Ed Koch, said most city residents are friendly to tourists, regardless of their political party. He added that many of the people in town for protest marches were not from the city.

“New Yorkers may be five to one Democrat but they know what it is to be congenial,” Artz said.

Maybe so, but the reception for delegates was not all friendly.

screaming and yelling in my face,” said Darren White, a delegate from Albuquerque, N.M. “They screamed and yelled that Republicans weren’t welcome in New York.”

Grace Kudukis, a delegate from Cleveland, said some protesters who marched near the delegation’s Times Square hotel on Sunday gestured obscenely at delegates and shouted rude comments about the president.

Some convention security officers suggested in response that delegates hide their credentials and any other signs that they were Republicans, including telling one man to turn his GOP T-shirt inside out to hide the elephant symbol, she sad.

“I just felt violated,” Kudukis said. “I have a right to be in the city. We have a two-party system and should be able to exist together.

“As an American, I’m afraid to be identified as a Republican. It’s a shame.”

Minnesotans came prepared for dissent. Their delegation received a memo, telling them not to engage critics in debate, not to get impatient when maneuvering around protests and to treat demonstrators with respect.

“Unlike pre-war Iraq and Afghanistan, people in America are free to peacefully protest and speak their minds,” the memo said.

“I have no problems with those people telling me their ideas and thoughts. I’ll be listening,” said Dr. Richard Mulder, a delegate from Ivanhoe, Minn. “I have free speech, too. I can give them my ideas, too. That’s what this country is all about.”

——

Associated Press writers David Lieb, Jill Barton, Brian Bakst, Deborah Hastings and Donna De La Cruz contributed to this report.

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