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Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press
Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As dozens of protesters blocked a busy intersection near the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte this week, they were surrounded and outnumbered by heavily armed police officers who appeared ready to move in.

When the situation was resolved with a conversation instead of a confrontation, it helped demonstrate why the tallies of arrests have stayed low at this year's national political conventions.

Police have balanced overwhelming shows of manpower with flexibility during the Democratic convention and last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Another big factor has been lower-than-expected turnout for protesters, who have also stopped short of the mayhem that unfolded at other conventions in recent years.

The Democratic convention ends tonight when President Barack Obama makes his acceptance speech in a downtown arena.

Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in Tampa, Martiga Lohn in St. Paul, Tammy Webber in Chicago and Jim Anderson in Denver contributed to this report.

Follow AP writer Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbiesecker