"Dissent is being hammered," said William K. Dobbs, a spokesman for the group United for Peace and Justice, which has spent more than a year planning the largest event of the week - a march next Sunday afternoon that will stream past Madison Square Garden.
The group is at odds with the city, however, over where the march will end. Organizers had agreed to hold a post-march rally along Manhattan's West Side Highway, but then rejected that plan after many activists complained the rally should be held in more symbolic Central Park.
City officials rejected the Central Park request - Bloomberg said such a large gathering would destroy the grass - and United for Peace and Justice organizers last week filed a lawsuit that could leave the march's ending point undetermined until the eleventh hour.
Convention organizers say they trust city leaders and police to accommodate protesters while allowing the political business to go on as planned.
"We understand there is going to be dissent, and orderly, peaceful protest is not incongruous with what we stand for," Leonardo Alcivar, the convention's press secretary, said. "New York is no stranger to large-scale protests, so they're able to deal with that effectively. As a lifelong New Yorker, I know they can handle it."
Activist groups, likewise, say they are undaunted by court battles over rally locations or news of government surveillance.
At a loft apartment in the East Village on Tuesday night, about 30 members of the satire activist group Billionaires for Bush plotted strategy and costuming for the GOP convention. With its members dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns, the group uses tongue-in-cheek humor to push its message about administration policies that have benefited corporate America and the ultra-wealthy.
For convention week, the group is planning a "Vigil for Corporate Welfare," the "Million Billionaires March" and a "Coronation Ball." The group is registered with the Federal Election Commission as a nonprofit advocacy group and, because of campaign finance rules, cannot endorse a specific candidate.
But its members leave few doubts about their political leanings.
"This is great, because, one, I hate Bush, and two, I love getting dressed up," said Lauren Grasch, a 25-year-old event planner who expects a flood of likeminded activists in New York on convention week. "I hate comparing it to the '60s, because I wasn't alive then. But it's so volatile, it's so urgent, and all these people are so angry."
Anger and frustration with the Bush administration are common themes among the protesters planning for the Republican Convention. They say it largely accounts for the small protest turnout at the Democratic convention, even if not all activists say they support John Kerry's campaign.
Mike McGuire, 31, of Baltimore, who has spent much of the past month in New York to organize with the environmental advocacy group Green Bloc, sums it up this way: "Folks are divided over political strategy. Folks don't want Kerry, but they want Bush less."
He is equally pragmatic about the possibility of a large number of protester arrests during the GOP convention, saying that would be a likely outcome given continuing friction between the city and the activists.
"I figure probably either way - the way the city and police rhetoric has gone - I figure I'll either be in jail or supporting people who are in jail," McGuire said last week. "Are we going into this hoping the police would suppress us? No. But it would be foolhardy not to expect that."
Ryan Harvey, 20, of Lutherville, who is part of the DNC2RNC march, said he has been approached twice by FBI agents who have asked about his activism efforts and fellow protesters. At the New Haven stop Tuesday, Harvey shrugged off the government's interest in him as misguided and fruitless.
The marchers, working with the group Democracy Uprising, want to draw attention to the importance of community activism and grassroots politics. Along the route, Harvey said, he asks people, "Are you really expressing yourself by voting? Is your vote really doing everything you want it to? What are you going to do all the days in between voting? Those are the days that matter."
Other activists are far more focused on the outcome in November.
A mutual disgust with the Bush administration prompted four New Yorkers who were loosely connected through the city's art community and independent media to pool their resources and talents to create a reference guide for protesters called "The People's Guide to the Republican National Convention."
The glossy full-color map pinpoints important sites in the city and offers a long list of useful tips for getting around New York. (On bicycling: "Not for the meek, but often the best way to get around." On the subway: "Hopping the turnstiles, once common, now can get you a night in jail.")
There also is advice on legal support if arrested while protesting and lists of public restrooms and free wireless Internet access sites. The guide's creators - Paul Chan, 26; Josh Breitbart, 29; Nadxi Mannello, 27; and Elise Gardella, 53 - spent about $6,000 of their own money to print about 25,000 copies.
"New York is intimidating without 200,000 or 300,000 extra people, and riot cops and metal barricades," Mannello said. "These [protesters] are citizens of the U.S., too, and they should be welcomed, too. Dissent is not a bad thing - it's healthy."
The guide's authors said they wouldn't be surprised if a few copies wound up in the hands of GOP delegates. It is so useful, Mannello said, its creators have even put it to use.
"We've been joking, we're New Yorkers, and we're still like, `Where should we meet?'" she said. "And now I'm like, `Wait! I've got the map.'"