- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2000

Anti-establishment activists and liberals are planning to flood the District with massive protests on Inauguration Day, prompting city police to brace for the deluge with an unprecedented level of security.
Many of the groups that demonstrated against the World Bank here in April intend to return to the District with their puppets and mantras, regardless of who takes the presidential oath of office on Jan. 20.
And supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, are planning a "civil rights explosion" if Republican George W. Bush is officially named the winner.
"We're not planning civil disobedience, but we are planning to fill the streets of Washington with thousands of people," said Brian Becker, co-director of the New York-based International Action Center, which is coordinating the protests.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officials said they are preparing on an even greater scale than they did in April for the anti-World Bank/ International Monetary Fund protests.
"What we would hope is that any demonstrations that are planned are peaceful," said Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. "We'll be as gentle or as forceful as we need to be, and play the situation out based on what they do."
"We have to be prepared for anything that may occur. It will not be [the police department] that creates the problem, but we will resolve it," he added.
Chief Ramsey will mobilize the entire Metropolitan Police Department for the event, and he has invoked "mutual aid" agreements with police in surrounding counties to increase staffing.
As many as 950 officers from Fairfax, Montgomery, Arlington and Prince George's counties and Alexandria will be federally deputized so they can enforce D.C. laws, officials said.
Federal police agencies will be out in force, and other agencies such as the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will be on standby for major incidents.
Publicly, law enforcement officials said they do not anticipate anything out of the ordinary, even if anti-establishment protesters stage large demonstrations.
But the closest presidential race in history has produced unusually intense partisan tensions, and the new anti-establishment movement could attract many more demonstrators.
For those reasons, police forces are "anticipating problems" among anti-establishment protesters and partisans disappointed at their candidate's loss, several officials told The Washington Times.
"The uncertainty of the election process, regardless of who wins, makes us think they will use the inauguration to show their displeasure one way or the other," a law enforcement official told The Times.
Gore supporters have hinted they will demonstrate if the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering the propriety of ballot recounts in Florida, rules in favor of Mr. Bush, essentially ensuring his victory.
"There will be nonviolent, disciplined protests if the scheme to disenfranchise voters is successful," Mr. Jackson told The Times yesterday.
"We can afford to lose an election in democracy, but you cannot afford to lose your franchise," he said. "And Americans will not take well, and should not take well, to be disenfranchised because of these very sinister schemes in Florida."
Asked if he would encourage sit-ins, Mr. Jackson said, "No, we're not there yet."
The assortment of groups working under the International Action Center are bipartisan protesters they will demonstrate if Mr. Bush or Mr. Gore wins, Mr. Becker said.
"It will be a loud protest, we think, and very visible," he said.
However, "if [Mr.] Bush wins, there will be thousands, perhaps more, of people from unions and civil rights organizations who will want to join us," he added.
Mr. Becker stressed that his organization and groups working with it do not plan to shut down the inauguration. But they will not abide by what activists derisively call "protest pits," fenced-in areas usually far from the official public event.
"We're not going to go for that," Mr. Becker said. "It would be very much in the interests of police to do the right thing, and that is to allow us to stage a spirited but legal and orderly protest close to the inaugural route, even if it's an 'inconvenience,' rather than trying to marginalize us or shut us down."
Local and federal law enforcement agencies have been meeting for months about security and shared intelligence on groups that could disrupt the inauguration, officials said.
"The law enforcement partnership is aware and cognizant of events, being fully briefed and will be that much more aware of their duty," a federal official said.
D.C. police had intelligence as far back as two or three months ago that anti-establishment activists were planning Inauguration Day protests, Chief Ramsey said.
Despite the promises by protesters not to break the law or commit violence, Chief Ramsey has not forgotten how events played out in April, when city police arrested hundreds of activists blocking streets.
"My experience with these folks is that they tend not to do what they say," he said.

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