- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

D.C. police and federal authorities are bracing for massive, violent demonstrations against international financial groups that will meet here in less than two months.
"If what we've seen around the world is any indication, it could be," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, the Metropolitan Police Department's No. 2 official. "There has been a gradual and steady increase in the level of violence and the number of people involved in the violence."
Rank-and-file officers fear that protesters plan to seek revenge because Chief Charles H. Ramsey and the department won international accolades last year for handling protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"I think they are going to kick [us around] this time," said one officer. "We've been watching what has been going on over in Italy. They realized the minimum amount of violence did not work, and they are going to have to come in here with a lot more resolve than they did last time."
Police and protesters clashed often and violently 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.
As local authorities and protest organizers prepare for the Sept. 29-Oct. 2 World Bank/IMF meetings, intelligence and counterintelligence efforts seem to be afoot.
A D.C. police video camera and a videotape of crowd-control training footage were stolen from the downtown office of a production company that contracts with the department. The break-in puzzled detectives and company officials because the thief passed over thousands of dollars worth of high-tech equipment, lap-tops, computers and petty cash.
Only the police camcorder and tape were taken, and the thief jimmied the front door open and then forced open most file cabinets throughout the 11th-floor office of SRB Productions. Three other offices in the building, in the 1400 block of K St. NW, also were broken into overnight Monday.
SRB Productions has produced training tapes on various topics for the police department for several years. The department is listed a client on the company's Web site, which also says it is helping with training for anti-IMF rallies.
Chief Gainer said the videotape contained footage filmed by D.C. police officials in Quebec and Genoa that anyone could get from television news broadcasts, so the theft does not compromise any police tactics.
The Metropolitan Police Department is making much more extensive preparations in training, manpower and intelligence gathering than it did before April 2000, when activists tried to shut down the World Bank/IMF meetings. Police said they have seen an increase in the use of firebombs and catapults against police during recent protests around the world, including Genoa, Quebec and Prague.
D.C. police have bought 1,800 flame-retardant suits for officers in the civil- disturbance unit, the front-line against protesters. Many helmets have been replaced with an attachment that steers flame or liquid away from the eyes.
Protest organizers have decried what they say is a military-style buildup and fear campaign. The major groups organizing the protests do not plan, for now, to call for a shut-down of the meeting. They plan to stage nonviolent demonstrations around the city during the week of meetings.
"It's important for the residents of Washington, D.C., to question what the police are preparing for," said Adam Eidinger, a local activist who has helped organize demonstrations. "There's a colossal waste of tax dollars in preparation for what is essentially going to be peaceful protests."
The protesters are calling for the cancellation of Third World debt, more accountability and openness by the financial institutions, an end to public policy conditions that accompany loans and the cessation of funding corporate investments.
The generally left-leaning protesters are a mix of anti-capitalists, environmentalists, socialists, advocates for the poor, opponents of the death penalty, strident feminists and abortion-rights supporters, and homosexual activists. A small contingent of anarchists, known as the "Black Bloc," often accompany larger nonviolent groups and commit vandalism.

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