- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2001

Activists organizing protests of next month's World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings refused to renounce violence at a press conference yesterday, instead focusing on four "demands."
Members of Mobilization for Global Justice, an umbrella group of protesters, refused all questions about the coming D.C. street action, which police predict could be far more violent than in recent years.
"It is the obligation of the people in this room now to … focus on the substantive issues," Robert Weissman, co-director of Washington-based corporate accountability group Essential Action, told journalists.
"We're going to ask for your cooperation in that. In fact we're going to insist on it."
Those issues, activists said, have been grouped into four broad categories.
They are demanding that the World Bank and IMF cancel the debts of all impoverished countries and end policies that hinder access to food, clean water, shelter, health care, education and the right to organize.
Protesters also want the lenders to stop supporting "destructive" projects such as oil, gas and mining activities, and are calling on the World Bank and IMF to open their meeting to media and the public.
"Most of the decisions happen behind a wall of secrecy. We are looking for an end to that," local activist Liz Butler said at the press conference at the National Press Building.
World Bank spokeswoman Caroline Anstey said her organization has consulted with nongovernmental organizations during recent summits and meetings around the world.
She said the World Bank welcomes more discussion, but only with those who renounce violence.
"I think we very much want to sit down and discuss these issues with them … but we can't debate with groups that are bent on destruction."
Yesterday wasn't the first time members of the Mobilization for Global Justice have refused to separate themselves from the anarchists, known as the Black Bloc.
"It is very troubling," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. He said the peaceful protesters have a "responsibility to help rid their ranks of this kind of activity."
Police and federal authorities are preparing for massive demonstrations against the financial institutions when they meet here Sept. 29 and 30.
The World Bank and IMF originally had scheduled a week of events, but scaled back their plans.
However, "the meetings that had been scheduled to take place, by and large, will be taking place," IMF External Relations Director Thomas Dawson has said.
Police expect as many as 100,000 protesters for what organizers called "a week of global justice," around the two days of meetings. In addition to rallies and demonstrations, there will be panel discussions and forums.
The federal government, meanwhile, has agreed to contribute $16 million, about half of what D.C. officials estimate it will cost to handle security.
The money will be used to pay overtime costs for out-of-town officers and for protective gear and medical supplies for the officers.
Local police officials and rank-and-file officers have cited clashes between police and protesters during anti-capitalism demonstrations last month at the Group of Eight Economic Summit in Genoa, Italy. Scores of protesters were arrested and one was killed.
The generally left-leaning protesters are a mix of anti-capitalists, environmentalists, socialists, advocates for the poor, death-penalty opponents, outspoken feminists and homosexual activists.


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