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Before protests, some run from city

NEW YORK -- They love to boast that not even the constant threat of terrorism or the blackout last summer sent them running from the city, but some in the nation's largest metropolis admit they are getting out of town before the Republican National Convention begins Monday.

Many in this Democratic bastion say they're fleeing neither the Republicans nor the prospect of terrorism, but the protesters.

''I am getting out of town," said JoAnne Berens, who was sitting in Bryant Park reading a stack of newspapers yesterday morning.

Berens said the potential for violence during a succession of demonstrations starting today with a march past Madison Square Garden, the convention site, has everyone a little wary.

So like many New Yorkers who consider crossing the Hudson River to New Jersey to be a trip in the country, Berens is leaving to visit family in the Garden State.

''I must admit this morning everything was great. There was no problem in the subway. It's so far so good, but I decided next week is going to be complicated," she said. ''It's not terrorists I am worried about, but it's the demonstrators. The peaceful demonstrations and the organized ones are great, but I think there are people here who want to make problems."

All week, local newspapers and televisions stations have been warning that anarchists are in New York and plan to disrupt the convention. In a report last week, the Daily News reported that police believe 50 of the leading anarchists will be in New York City for the convention. One political organizer named in the story and linked to anarchist groups published a rebuttal on his website.

Still, Denise Karako of Manhattan doesn't want to be in town. ''I heard these people were going to use ammonia capsules to confuse the dogs and throw marbles," she said. ''It's insane. That's why we are fleeing to Connecticut."

Karako spoke while waiting for her husband in Grand Central Station. ''We are not coming back until Labor Day. Everybody hears a different story, so we actually waited all summer long to take our vacation at this time because of the demonstrators."

''It's going to be a mess. There is going to be this negative vibration we don't need here. I can see on the rooftop of a dumpster at my job the words written 'Dump Bush,' " said Dale VanderWoude, who works in a bank in TriBeCa but lives in nearby Hoboken, N.J. ''That's why I scheduled a trip to Asia."

The streets were calm yesterday. Thousands of abortion rights activists crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, but no major problems were reported.

A New York Times poll said 85 percent of New Yorkers plan to remain in the city despite their fears.

Jay Gogan, a musician who lives in the East Village, said he doesn't understand why people are leaving. ''This is going to be the best time we had in a long time," he said. ''I didn't leave for 9/11, the blackout, and I am not leaving now." 

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