- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2002

Anti-globalization demonstrators yesterday asked "what ever happened to free speech?" after D.C. police denied them a permit to rally this weekend outside the downtown corporate offices of Coca-Cola, Citibank and Monsanto companies protesters claim are "implicated in the expanding war in Colombia."
Police issued permits saying the protesters will be allowed to assemble at Murrow Park, at the corner of 18th and H streets NW, outside the World Bank headquarters and then march along a route well away from the corporate offices.
"This police harassment has gone too far," said protester Chris Otten "It's unfounded."
Mr. Otten said his group, Mobilization for Global Justice, applied three weeks ago for permits to march from the World Bank east on H Street, where they intended to hold "brief street theater demonstrations and speeches" outside the Coca-Cola offices on Connecticut Avenue before continuing to 14th Street and turning south.
The permits issued by police cut the groups' jaunt down 14th Street, saying instead the march will be directed "south on 17th Street" to join with other demonstrations planned for this weekend on the National Mall.
Such details may appear arbitrary, but protesters were furious with police yesterday. "The permit they issued us completely bypasses all of the corporate offices that we want to stop at," said Adam Eidinger, Mobilization for Global Justice spokesman.
"The police are actually setting up a confrontation with us by doing this. We're gonna march where we want to go," he said.
Metropolitan Police Sgt. Joe Gentile said "technically, a portion of the group's original request for permits was denied" because they wanted to march in a secure zone around the White House. "They were given alternate routes, which they originally agreed to," Sgt. Gentile said. "But now they have a problem, and we're going to be meeting with them to discuss other possible routes tomorrow."
Mobilization for Global Justice was one of the groups at the center of a violent April 2000 anti-globalization rally in the District that resulted in more than 1,000 arrests. "The stops that we planned for this Saturday are not the kind of things that are going to result in any property destruction," Mr. Eidinger said.
The denial of permits puts a scar on what has been a "positive," growing relationship with police since the 2000 protests, added Mr. Otten.
Organizers predict a hodgepodge of demonstrations planned this weekend by more than a dozen groups will draw between 30,000 and 40,000 protesters to the District. At a news conference Tuesday, representatives from several groups said their protests will be driven by a single underlying concern that U.S. military policies are "undermining freedom, democracy and justice."
In addition, several groups have planned pro-Palestinian rallies this weekend. Emad Fraitekh of the Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian People said he expects more than 5,000 protesters to show up Saturday morning outside the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue NW to demonstrate against Israel's operation in the West Bank.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide