- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

D.C. police sources are privately, informally suggesting that reporters wear gas masks when they cover protests against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this fall.
The department, however, has not issued any official public warning or advised reporters to don any particular protective gear.
"We would hope that everyone participating in this event will work to ensure the safety of all those involved," said Officer Kenneth Bryson, a spokesman for the department.
D.C. police and federal authorities are preparing for massive, violent demonstrations against the groups, which will meet here Sept. 29-Oct. 2. Police expect as many as 50,000 protesters and have sought assistance from other jurisdictions to help keep the peace.
Local police officials and rank-and-file officers have cited violent 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 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 during recent protests around the world.
Last year, many reporters and photographers wore gas masks while covering World Bank/IMF protests here. Several reporters and editors at news organizations in the District said they will use or buy gas masks this fall.
Activists opposed to global capitalism have been planning for months to protest this fall's World Bank/IMF meetings.
Police and federal authorities are anticipating more violent disturbances than last year, when police arrested more than 1,200 activists who tried to shut down the meetings.
D.C. police have bought 1,800 flame-retardant suits for officers in the civil-disturbance unit — the front line against protesters — and have outfitted many helmets with an attachment that steers flame and liquid away from the eyes.
Law-enforcement officials are concerned about what they say is an escalation of violence during protests around the world over the last several years.
They say they hope the majority of nonviolent protesters keep in check the violent minority of anarchists, known as the Black Bloc.
Protesters need "to quell the violent disruptions in their own ranks," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, the Metropolitan Police Department's No. 2 official.
No protest organization is calling for a shutdown of the meetings, and such a declaration is not anticipated, according to several key organizers within the movement. 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 are essentially going to be peaceful protests."
The protesters are calling for the cancellation of Third World debt, more accountability and openness by the worldwide 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, outspoken feminists and abortion-rights supporters, and homosexual activists.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

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