- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2001

Officers outnumbered demonstrators more than two to one in front of World Bank headquarters yesterday, where a major protest of the IMF-World Bank meetings in the District of Columbia collapsed into a mix of slapstick and stand-up comedy. All that was missing were funny hats and pig bladders.
Some 200 demonstrators gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue and 19th Street NW carrying signs with the by-now familar slogans such as "People not profit" and "Debt equals death."
There were chants, someone wearing an oversized puppets head resembling former President Clinton, a man on stilts dressed as a banker and bongo drums, but no arrests — only speeches urging that money borrrowed by leaders of Third World nations be written off the books as a bad debt.
It was far different last April when more than 10,000 protesters descended on the District for a week when the official IMF-World Bank meetings were held downtown. The protest ended violently in a showdown with police that led to more than 1,200 arrests.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who made national headlines last year by personally arresting one of the demonstrators, was not taking chances. He had originally ordered the closing of a six-block square around the World Bank headquarters. About 11 a.m yesterday, he extended the perimeter to include H Street NW, from 17th to 21st streets.
About 400 officers were in the immediate area, with hundreds more deployed nearby.
Demonstrators yesterday stuck to their agreement with local police to keep their protest symbolic.
They didnt have a permit for the march that followed their 90-minute rally, but Chief Ramsey decided not to press the issue. Instead, he gave them his blessing. When the speeches ended and the last of the puppets were put away, protestors were given a police escort that even royalty would approve of.
The 200 or so marchers were led down Pennsylvania Avenue by a police cruiser, two columns of officers on bicycles and a hovering police helicopter that tracked them as they made a left turn onto 21st Street and cut through part of George Washington University campus, where they were heckled by students.
It was a good day, as far as Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer was concerned. He had watched a portion of the protest from a park bench, casually talking with demonstrators as they passed.
"Our objective is to keep it peaceful, keep it professional and hold the cost down, and I think were doing that," Chief Gainer said, delighted at the peaceful nature of the event.
Some demonstrators bristled at what they saw as an excessive number of police officers on duty.
"Just from a taxpayer point of view, I think its an incredible waste of assets," said Robert Weissman, co-director of Essential Action, one of the protest groups represented yesterday.
"The massive displays of police force deters people from turning out for these demonstrations," Mr. Weissman said. He said pictures of police breaking out their riot gear that were aired or published last week may have kept many away.
Metropolitan Police units spent last week staging training sessions around the city, with recruits playing the role of protesters against officers in their civil disturbance unit (CDU) gear.
"There should be a proportional police response," Mr. Weissman said. "No one could possibly think this was proportional."
Chief Gainer called such accusations "troubling."
"Were not trying to stifle the protest, were trying to stifle criminality," he said.
The primary security zone for the event covered only the two blocks around the headquarters complexes of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Before the demonstrations began, though, police also closed 18th to 20th streets between F and I streets, and H and G between 17th and 21st streets. Access to the protest site was restricted to three entrance points. Unlike Saturday, Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was open to pedestrian traffic.
A number of precautions were taken before the demonstration. Police had large garbage bins removed from the street, along with a dozen post office boxes and some newspaper vending machines.
But most of the anti-globalization movement focused its energy this April on Quebec, where the spring meetings were held last week, leaving the District on the sidelines.
In Quebec, 400 of about 20,000 demonstrators were arrested in two days of confrontations.
Yesterdays protest "was not planned to be a major demonstration," said Luke Jones, 33, of the District. "As a result of that, I think this is a good showing."
Speakers promised that upcoming meetings in the District from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 will be a major event.
"Although we are only here in the hundreds today, we will be back in the fall in the thousands," one speaker said.

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