CINCINNATI – Police barricaded the downtown central plaza Saturday and searched protesters outside an international trade conference as activists chanted, “This is what a police state looks like.”
At least 47 people were arrested Saturday, taking the arrest total during the two-day Transatlantic Business Dialogue meeting to 53. The conference, which wrapped up Saturday, involved about 90 corporate executives from Europe and the United States and about 100 international trade officials.
The business leaders are putting together recommendations aimed at easing barriers to international trade. Protesters contend the business leaders want to water down rules protecting workers and the environment.
As part of Saturday’s rally, demonstrators carrying life-size papier-mache pigs above their heads marched past the headquarters of Chiquita Brands International and other corporations and the conference hotel.
Police used chemical spray to disperse one group of protesters after a confrontation over a woman’s refusal to remove a stick from a protest sign, police said.
More than 80 helmeted officers and a dozen on horseback used metal barricades to keep the demonstrators away from the headquarters of Kroger Co., the nation’s largest grocery chain, for a third day.
“It’s really hard to make your point when they’re not seeing us,” said Amanda Hall, 19, an activist and student at Berea College in Kentucky.
Sister Alice Gerdeman of the Coalition for a Humane Economy, which organized the rally, said the police searches were intimidation tactics that could lead to more trouble. Her group staged mostly peaceful demonstrations Thursday and Friday involving crowds of 300 to 400 people. She said those arrested were acting on their own.
“My concern is that when we have this show of force it frustrates these people more,” she said.
Police Lt. Ray Ruberg said officers took a hard line because protesters would not stay within the confines of permits that allowed them to march on certain streets Friday but only to assemble and not march on Saturday.
On Friday, some protesters toppled barricades and broke windows in skirmishes with police.
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