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Police warn of arrests over masks during WEF protests

A little scaremongering from the NYPD: NEW YORK -- Bracing for large-scale protests at the World Economic Forum, the NYPD drew a line in the sand Monday over an obscure law barring demonstrators from wearing masks.
NEW YORK -- Bracing for large-scale protests at the World Economic Forum, the NYPD drew a line in the sand Monday over an obscure law barring demonstrators from wearing masks.

Chief of Patrol Joseph Esposito told a news conference that the department would strictly enforce the code, which prohibits three or more protesters from wearing masks.

"Three or more with masks and they're marching, they're under arrests," Esposito said.

The warning could heighten tensions between the 40,000 officer force, the nation's largest, and the thousands of demonstrators expected to take to the streets starting Thursday, when the world's political and business elite begin arriving in midtown Manhattan for the four-day event.

Protest organizers say many marchers plan to don costumes and carry giant puppets * some worn over their heads * to emphasize their anti-globalization message.

"They're going to have to arrest thousands and thousands of people," said David Graeber of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, an anarchist group. "It's not going to be good."

Nearly 4,000 police officers will be deployed to secure the streets around the Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Park Avenue. Hundreds more will protect foreign dignitaries including Afghanistan leader Hamid Karzai and visiting chief executives like Bill Gates as they move about in the city.

Partly as a show of solidarity with a city stricken by terrorism, the economic talks are being held in New York instead of the quiet Swiss ski resort of Davos, where the forum has been held for 31 years.
 
 

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