- The Washington Times - Friday, April 19, 2002

As thousands of expected protesters arrive in the city today to rally against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, D.C. police say they are most concerned about clashes between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
"Certain demonstrations draw counterdemonstrators," Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday.
The chief pointed to a verbal clash Monday between a small group of pro-Israeli demonstrators and pro-Palestinian counterdemonstrators that resulted in one of three arrests at the largely peaceful pro-Israeli rally at the U.S. Capitol.
Pro-Palestinian activists are expecting more than 5,000 supporters to show up tomorrow morning outside the Washington Hilton and Towers on Connecticut Avenue NW to demonstrate against Israel's occupation in the West Bank. The New Black Panther Party also is planning an anti-Israel demonstration at the corner of 16th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW.
Representatives of several other groups say a unifying theme between the demonstrations will be protesting what they call the U.S. military's "undermining of freedom, democracy and justice." The demonstrations will culminate with a major rally on the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol tomorrow afternoon.
"The Middle East right now is a hotbed of emotion and passion," Chief Ramsey said. "When you start getting into all those emotional-type issues, you have to be concerned."
Protest organizers predict that demonstrations planned this weekend by more than a dozen activist groups will draw as many as 50,000 protesters to the District.
After negotiating with protesters, police yesterday granted permits for an anti-globalization rally outside the World Bank at 18th and H Streets NW.
The demonstrators say they also were given permits to hold "street-theater demonstrations" outside the corporate offices of Coca-Cola, Citibank and Monsanto companies anti-globalists claim are "implicated in the expanding war in Colombia."
Mobilization for Global Justice, a D.C.-based anti-globalization group, will take the lead in those demonstrations. The group, protesting what it calls the "exploitative nature" of World Bank and IMF policies, was one of those at the center of a violent April 2000 rally in the District that resulted in more than 1,000 arrests.
Organizers say this weekend's demonstrations will include civil disobedience, a tactic that in the past has led to mass arrests.
Metropolitan police have in place a "mass-arrest plan," though Chief Ramsey stressed that police want to encourage free speech and allow groups to make their messages heard. But police also want to protect the people who work and travel in the District, he said.
"Peaceful doesn't necessarily mean lawful," the chief said. "You can peacefully sit in the middle of the street and block traffic, but that's not lawful."
Chief Ramsey said police are also preparing for the possibility that demonstrators will disrupt this evening's rush hour, and he urged regular D.C. commuters, beginning today and carrying through Monday, not to drive into the city, but rather to use Metro instead.
He declined to give specific details about the number of officers who will be patrolling downtown streets this weekend. He said that in addition to extra officers from the Maryland State Police and the police departments of Montgomery, Fairfax and Arlington counties, U.S. Park Police, U.S. Capitol Police, the Secret Service and the FBI will be out in force.
The National Guard also will be on alert at the D.C. Armory in Southeast.
D.C. police have canceled all employee leave and expects all officers to work while the demonstrators are in town. Beginning last night, officers are on 12-hour shifts. Yesterday, public works crews were kept busy removing trash cans and newspaper boxes and bolting down park benches in the vicinity of the World Bank headquarters,
Chief Ramsey said he is asking the federal government for "about $4 million" to compensate for the department's extra expenses in dealing with protesters.
"Nobody coming to protest this weekend is coming to protest local government," he said. "They're all here for national and international issues, so why should the taxpayers of the District of Columbia bear the whole cost of it?"
D.C. officials say that since September 11, law enforcement authorities have had to consider that demonstrations could also be used as cover for terrorist operations.
Chief Ramsey is urging protesters, whether demonstrating against war policies, the World Bank, or anything else, to notify police if they see what appears to be terrorist activity.
He said he has received no advance warning of any specific terrorist threat.
With so many protesters expected tomorrow, police are preparing for an early start to the rallies as demonstrators may be arriving en masse today.
Police are expected to announce today any street closures for tomorrow. The chief said abrupt street closures downtown may begin as early as tomorrow.

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