ity officials bracing for protests

[bold on]Robert Koch[bold off][fm][bold on][bold off][bold on][bold off]
Staff Reporter[fm]
Fearing demonstrations similar to those that disrupted the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle last November, Minneapolis and University police geared up Thursday for the six-day International Society for Animal Genetics conference set to begin today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
Flatbed 18-wheelers unloaded concrete barriers along Nicollet Mall between South 12th and Grant streets. Three feet high and topped by six-foot chain-link fencing, they are designed to keep protesters away from the hotel, where several hundred international researchers will discuss animal genetics – a topic that has drawn protesters in the past.
Minneapolis police Capt. Bud Emerson oversaw the setup in front of the Hyatt.
“We want to guarantee the peaceful right of protest,” Emerson said. “At the same time, we have to guarantee that the people who are having a conference have the opportunity to do what they came here for.”
Minneapolis police said they will enforce the perimeter around the hotel 24 hours a day. Other protection measures include rerouted bus service along Nicollet and the use of undercover officers.
Police spokeswoman Cyndi Montgomery said roughly 800 officers will be on duty, including Hennepin County and Minnesota State Patrol personnel. Other police agencies will also be available. But the promised boarding-up of Nicollet Avenue businesses had not begun as of Thursday afternoon.
Protesters belonging to the Animal Liberation Front broke into Elliott Hall and the Lions Research Building in April 1999. And the University’s Student Organization for Animal Rights remains on probationary status following demonstrations last September.
Meanwhile, University Police maintained increased campus security. The St. Paul campus – home to several research laboratories – remains open. But drivers wishing to enter or exit between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. must go through the intersection of Cleveland and Folwell avenues. During the weekend, the access point will be used 24 hours.