- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

The unexpected isn't expected for another six weeks or so. But there's a lot that can be said about preparation or too much preparation, which appears to be the case regarding the upcoming IMF-World Bank meeting protests. "The cost is staggering," D.C. Police Chief Chuck Ramsey said Friday. He and his counterparts want to minimize injury to people and damage to property. That property, it seems, will include the White House and World Bank, which will be encompassed by never-ending, nine-foot-high fencing. (More on that later.)

This will arguably be an expensive mission impossible, especially when you consider the fact that these particular activists and anarchists love nothing better than to tear down walls erected in the name of law and order. Indeed, so far the District, which has already hosted two events, has spent more than $40 million on the uninvited traveling protesters, including $30 million for protests this fall. The feds, meanwhile, have reimbursed the city to the tune of just $4.5 million. The tens of millions of dollars include, of course, overtime pay and the costs other jurisdictions pay for lending support, bomb technicians, trash collectors, water and sewer personnel, and fire, police and emergency medical personnel from Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere.

These are reasonable and expected expenses. Now, however, taxpayers are expected to add to those the costs of the fence and the fence putter-uppers as well as the fence taker-downers. That, someone must explain to Chief Ramsey, is overkill. What will they erect the next time around? An American version of the Berlin Wall in the land of the free and the home of the brave?

About 40,000 protesters have vowed to be seen and to be heard, which is nothing compared to the 250,000 to half-million who have turned out in this city for all manner of marches and protests from the 1963 March on Washington to the millions of moms and dads rallying for pro-life, a cure for this and gay rally for that.

These huge protests and rallies generated few problems. There was no nine-foot-high fencing daring those activists to place in jeopardy the lives of our men and women in blue. There were billy clubs and night sticks, and there was tear gas. There were rows of officers in riot gear, on motorcycles, on foot and in patrol cars. There were strategically placed sharpshooters and helicopters hovering above. But there was no fencing.

Moreover, there were thousands of brave and well-trained armed with steely resolve (and the requisite weapons) to enforce law and order. This time around should be no different.

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