- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2001

The District and the National Park Service have issued official permits to an anti-war group, allowing it to march and assemble up to 8,000 protesters on Saturday in Lafayette Park, just across the street from the White House.
The permits were issued Friday to the International Action Center just hours after President Bush declared war on terrorists in a nationwide broadcast and caught some law enforcement officials off guard.
The president does not oppose the protests, said spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo. However, the Secret Service, which has something to say about the sudden arrival of thousands of angry people, is not happy about the issuance of the permits, a source in the Treasury Department said.
The action center, which bankrolled a group that was part of last year's raucous and at times violent IMF-World Bank meeting in the District, said it decided to turn a protest of international banking into an anti-war demonstration, after this year's IMF meeting here was cancelled for security reasons.
If the protesters show up in the numbers written on the city permit application at least 5,000 people from the International Action Center (IAC), and up to 3,000 people from the Green Party they will be met by "a big contingent of trained officers," said D.C. police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.
"We do have concerns about [security], we can't comment on what our plans are," he added.
Sarah Sloan, a staff coordinator employed by the Action Center, said the IAC has enough money to stage a peace march and rally for at least 10,000 protesters.
She said the organization, which claims former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark on its list of supporters, is "adequately" funded. It also retains several pro bono lawyers in the District who obtained the permits and who would help the Action Center fight in court to keep them if police agencies try to void them on grounds of national security.
Sgt. Dennis Moroni of the U.S. Park Police is advising everyone to hold their horses.
"We don't have a security assessment from the Secret Service, FBI and Metropolitan Police; so, as far as we are concerned, [the march and rally] is still on hold," Sgt. Moroni said.
The center said there is nothing wrong in shifting the focus of its demonstration.
"In light of the recent attacks, and the cancellation of the IMF meetings, we thought it important to refocus our protest and deal with the backlash against Arab-Americans, and this so-called war nothing more than a bombing expedition that will kill tens of thousands of civilians," Miss Sloan said.
Miss Sloan said the Action Center's newly funded anti-war organization will continue to the District as planned, saying the organization's attorneys had assured its members that their protest and march is lawful.
"With our attorneys from the Partnership for Civil Justice, we received the permits and we will gather at the park from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, then march to the Capitol and hold another rally until 6 p.m.," Miss Sloan said.
Further details are to be given during a press conference tomorrow, the center said.
Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, one of the center's representatives, said the permits are valid unless voided within 24 hours of their issuance.
She said the deadline has expired.
"They need to read their own regulations," Mrs. Hilliard said.
She said the security assessment Sgt. Moroni wants done is not "in and of itself, a valid reason to revoke the permits."
"We had a meeting with the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday and they signed a permit for the march," she said.
The rally permit needed to assemble in Lafayette Park and on the steps of the Capitol "came from the National Park Service."

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