Via The New York Times, written by Michael Slackman and Al Baker:
Plainclothes police officers on stylish Italian motorscooters herded bicycle-riding demonstrators into thick orange nets stretched across intersections. Airborne spy cameras on blimps and helicopters monitored the crowd. Digital video cameras were used to tape arrest scenes and collect evidence for later use in court. A military-inspired sound device was ready to disperse crowds with shouted orders or painful blasts of noise.
After more than a year of planning and training, the New York Police Department oversaw yesterday's giant protest march by combining traditional methods of crowd control -- from undercover officers who infiltrated the crowd to a huge show of force -- with a variety of new techniques that clearly took some of the protesters by surprise.
The combined methods appeared effective at keeping yesterday's marchers where the police wanted them to be, and even protest advocates praised the police for their overall restraint, noting in particular that individual officers did not allow themselves to be provoked by the very few attempts to incite them.
When one protester threw what looked like feces at a row of young police officers on Seventh Avenue outside Madison Square Garden, they stood frozen and did not flinch, even to wipe away what turned out to be pieces of cardboard. When a group of protesters climbed atop some construction scaffolding, officers coaxed them down, then let them leave without arrest.
This was part of the strategy that is beginning to define one of the greatest tests the Police Department has seen in recent years, not only dealing with successive days of protests, but doing so as journalists from all over the world are watching. Officers were drilled on teamwork, trained to respond to a supervisor's orders and never to react to a simple taunt.
When officers were ordered to make arrests, they acted quickly with precision, taking more than 200 people into custody yesterday, though at times over the weekend they moved so quickly that, it appears, they also swept up innocent bystanders who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Even some of the Police Department's most persistent critics reluctantly gave the police good marks, though several said most of the credit for good behavior belonged to the demonstrators.
''A quarter of a million people made a commitment to a peaceful legal march,'' said one of yesterday's marchers, Ronald Kuby, the civil rights lawyer from New York who gave his own unofficial estimate of the crowd size. ''They were the ones who kept the peace. They were the ones who were well behaved. So this notion that the police did a good job is true only to the extent that the demonstrators themselves had a powerful commitment to keep this demonstration peaceful and legal.''
The greatest show of force came at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 34th Street, where the march turned east after moving uptown. On one corner more than a dozen officers sat on horseback, while dozens of other uniformed officers lined the streets. Motorcycles, scooters and vans filled the pavement just beyond the border of the protest zone.
A few yards away, at around 3 p.m., a fire broke out when a papier-mâché float made to look like a dragon was set ablaze. The police quickly blocked off the route at 34th Street and Avenue of the Americas and put the flames out with fire extinguishers. Several people were arrested, one of whom was charged with arson.
For all the preparations to deal with the crowd, it appeared that the police forgot at least one essential detail -- water for the officers who were weighed down with body armor and riot helmets. Officers had to rely on their supervisors to run into local convenience stores to buy water.
Still, over and over, as hundreds of thousands of people marched yesterday, up Seventh Avenue, across 34th Street and down Fifth Avenue, the police showed restraint, turning away, for example, when they were mocked for failing to secure a desired raise from the city. At one point, a large group of demonstrators surrounded a patrol car, waving anarchist flags and taunting the two officers inside. The police officers hit their siren, backed up and drove off. A few uniformed officers arrived and ordered the protesters onto the sidewalks, and the group just melted away.
There were red lines, however, and anyone on a bicycle seemed to be on the wrong side of that line. At a large bike protest on Friday, the police showed they were resolved to keep the bikes from blocking traffic, and they did that again yesterday. Bicycle-riding protesters said that the people in civilian clothing (who they assumed to be police) would ride into the pack of cyclists to slow them down. Protesters said the police strategy seemed to be contain, surge and arrest.
One incident involved a group of cyclists a few blocks away from the parade route. Chris Habib, 29, said police scooters sought to move the cyclists off the street by nudging their tires. He said that as the cyclists reached Seventh Avenue traveling west on 37th Street, they slowed, facing a dilemma. Police blocked any turn south and, the bikers believed that turning north on the southbound avenue would result in instant arrest.
Several bystanders said the police arrested people who were not protesting but happened to be in the area when the police swooped down.
At the Second Avenue Deli, Alexander Pincus, 28, and Isa Wipfli, 29, had just picked up a dinner of matzo ball soup, pirogi, pastrami and corned beef for Mr. Pincus's girlfriend when they stepped outside and saw swarms of police officers and bicyclists. Mr. Pincus said he and Mr. Wipfli approached a police officer looking for a way out.
''They took our bikes and handcuffed us,'' Mr. Wipfli said. ''We were like, 'Look at the food. It's still warm.' They wouldn't listen to anything we said.''