Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Police Ban Street Protests as Fears of Violence Grow

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Police Ban Street Protests as Fears of Violence Grow

Article excerpt

Police banned street demonstrations Wednesday night amid signs that President Slobodan Milosevic was moving to crush the opposition movement.

Hundreds of thousands of his opponents have been protesting election fraud for more than a month.

On Tuesday, police officers beat protesters in the first significant violence recorded since the demonstrations began. On Wednesday night, they said they would "intervene" to end any "disruptions of law and order" on city streets. The warning followed another day when as many as 100,000 defiant and boisterous demonstrators returned to the streets of the capital, despite clashes the day before with Milosevic's bused-in supporters and his riot police. Opposition leaders had said Milosevic would use Tuesday's violence to justify a wider crackdown, and they had predicted that a protest ban would be ordered. A previous prohibition was ignored. But that was before police beatings and other skirmishes injured more than 50 people. Vuk Draskovic, one of three leaders of the opposition coalition known as Together, urged his followers late Wednesday to disregard the police order. "We are walking against the stealing of elections, and we will continue walking," he said on radio. "Citizens, behave as though you didn't hear the (government's) message, and walk tomorrow in all directions." On Wednesday, students used liquid detergent and brooms to "decontaminate" the site of the previous day's pro-Milosevic rally. Later, tens of thousands of opposition activists marched through downtown and then gathered in Republic Square. No riot police were visible, and no violence was reported. …

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