- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2001

Neither protesters nor police expect any clashes during this weekends meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), but both sides are looking to autumn, when activists will mobilize demonstrations on the scale of those in Quebec last week.
Organizers say they will put "hundreds" of activists on the street Sunday at 3 p.m. for a permitted demonstration in a park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the World Bank. They have made no public plans for "direct action" — civil disobedience tactics such as locking rows of demonstrators to each other.
Thats a far cry from last Aprils meetings, when more than 10,000 activists descended on the District for a week of protests, culminating in a two-day showdown with police that led to more than 1,200 arrests.
The Metropolitan Police Department has put on a show of force this week, staging training sessions around the city, with recruits playing the role of protesters against officers in their Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) gear.
The Special Operations Division will deploy to the area, with as many as 1,500 officers from various police districts in CDU mode, including body armor, smoke grenades and pepper spray. Federal law enforcement agencies also will be on alert.
"Well respect their right to protest, but we are also going to respect the right of people to hold their meetings," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. "I think it will be nothing on the magnitude of last year."
Rob Weisman, a key local organizer, agreed.
"This will be a small-scale demonstration," said Mr. Weisman, a member of Essential Action, which is calling on the World Bank and IMF to cancel all the debt of Third World countries .
Mr. Weisman, clean-shaven and wearing a suit, held a press conference yesterday with several other organizers in professional attire at the National Press Club, accusing the financial institutions of harming poor people and the environment with their policies.
But if the activists are going for a mainstream, issues-oriented look, police arent buying it — especially after violent protests during last weeks trade summit in Quebec, Chief Ramsey said.
"Look at the level of violence which theyre descending to," he said, referring to tactics used against Canadian authorities. "They used an old-fashioned catapult like out of the 'Gladiator movie. And they threw firebombs. The anarchists are just getting totally out of hand."
Police dont expect such scenes this weekend, but they do this fall. Most of the anti-globalization movement focused its energy this spring on Quebec, leaving the District on the sidelines. But the fall meetings here will be a major battleground, activists and law enforcement officials say.
"Thats going to be absolutely terrible," Chief Ramsey said. "Its going to be bad."
The State Department has declared the area immediately surrounding the financial buildings a "foreign mission," restricting vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Police officials said they may expand the fenced-in area at any time starting tomorrow morning.
Activists are decrying the police rhetoric and public riot training.
"Its an obscene waste of tax dollars," said Adam Eidinger, with the Mobilization for Global Justice, a coalition of many protest groups. "The chief should resign over this. This is making money for the cops with all their overtime."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide