- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

The Metropolitan Police Department is lending its anti-protest expertise to Canadian authorities, who are bracing for an onslaught of anti-capitalism demonstrators next month in Quebec City.

Meanwhile, D.C. police will have to stay alert for a string of protests by the same coalition of activists who demonstrated during the inauguration this year and World Bank/ International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings last year.

Thousands of activists will target Quebec, which will host the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) summit April 20-24, and the U.S.-Canadian border with massive protests.

The Metropolitan Police Department, which has earned international acclaim for its success in handling protests, has sent three officials to Quebec to advise authorities there on how to counter protesters' tactics.

Three members of the department's Improvised Device Unit this month showed Canadian authorities how to cut protesters out of lockboxes and neck harnesses, which typically are used to chain protesters across streets, said D.C. police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.

Quebec's provincial police, or Surete Du Quebec, has sent officials to the District and hosted several D.C. police officials for a "strategic meeting," said Sgt. Richard Bourbon, a spokesman for the provincial police.

Sgt. Bourbon said he could not discuss any specific information provided by D.C. police. Canadian authorities have been contacting police departments in the United States and Europe that have dealt with such protests, he said.

More local officials will observe the police and protesters in Quebec next month, since "this is probably the same group that will come down and visit us the following week," Chief Ramsey said.

Protest organizers said activists have not yet decided whether to use civil-disobedience tactics such as human chains blocking streets or just engage in legal but loud protests in their upcoming D.C. demonstrations.

Local activists are teaming with Philadelphia ACTUP, a militant AIDS advocacy group known for extreme tactics, to protest at the office of the U.S. Trade Representative on April 12.

The protest estimated by organizers to have more than 500 persons will be "very vigorous and very creative," said Robert Naiman, a senior policy research analyst at the Center for Economic and Policy Research who is involved in protest organizing. "It will definitely be boisterous."

The group will protest policies that maintain the high costs of AIDS medicines, which poor African countries cannot afford, he said.

That protest will serve as a sendoff for local activists heading to Canada, said Soren Ambrose, a policy analyst with 50 Years is Enough Network, a group critical of the World Bank and the IMF.

Mr. Ambrose's group and several others will stage demonstrations around April 20 "in solidarity" with the action in Quebec, he said.

The World Bank and the IMF hold spring meetings the following weekend, and another protest is planned for Sunday, April 29. Activists will demand the institutions use their own funds to pay off the debts of poor countries.

Because so much effort is going into the Quebec protests, the demonstrations against the World Bank/IMF meeting will not be on the same scale as those of last April, organizers said.

"We'll be delighted if we get 1,000 people, and it will probably be less," Mr. Naiman said.

Last April, the Metropolitan Police Department won national and international accolades for keeping order when more than 10,000 activists protested during the World Bank/IMF meetings. Police arrested more than 1,200 demonstrators during the weeklong protests.

D.C. police also were lauded for handling thousands of protesters on Inauguration Day. Fewer than 20 persons were arrested during those demonstrations.


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