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Dozens arrested outside of Republican convention

Scott J. Anderson / CNN | September 2, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) -- At least 56 people were arrested Monday after police fired projectiles and used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse a crowd demonstrating near the site of the Republican National Convention.

CNN photojournalists witnessed police detaining between 20 and 30 individuals with plastic handcuffs a few blocks from the security perimeter around the Xcel Center in downtown St. Paul.

A crowd of 300 individuals was later seen conducting what appeared to be a sit-in at a parking lot near the Mississippi River.

Earlier Monday, a group of self-described anarchists threw park benches into streets and smashed windows, police said.

Thomas Walsh, a public information officer for the St. Paul Police Department, said Monday afternoon that 13 people had been arrested so far, accused of damage to property and conspiracy to riot. Those arrested will be formally charged in Ramsey County District Court on Tuesday, he said.

The arrest of the "anarchists" came after nearly 5,000 protesters marched peacefully outside the site of the convention site.

While Walsh described the individuals as a being part of a "splinter group" from the main body of protesters, he said it would not characterize their activity as being a protest.