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TXT 4 RNC PRTST

The most common of personal electronics -- the mobile phone -- is becoming a tool of choice for political organizers. And when activists by the thousands gather in New York City to protest at the Republican National Convention, cell phones will get their most intense workout yet as activist instruments.Mobile-engaged masses don't just connect differently; they act differently too. Short-messaging system (SMS) alerts over cell phones have enabled demonstrators to shift tactics, deploy resources and respond to the police, just about instantly.Law enforcement officials concede they're having trouble keeping up with these fast-moving, cell-connected groups."Now, they can actually coordinate tactics, create a feint. They'll start a demonstration in one place to draw the police, while their true objective is in another," said Charles "Sid" Heal, a crowd-control specialist and 29-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department."There's nothing we can do right now to counter them," Heal said. "They're in a digital age, and we're still in analog."There's more in my Chicago Tribune story.

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