- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

A weekend of protests in the District got off to an early start yesterday when about 80 slow-moving demonstrators on bicycles disrupted rush-hour traffic by clogging Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th, 17th and K streets NW.
Drivers leaned on their horns as traffic began to back up shortly after 5 p.m. while the protestors tried to hand them blue-colored fliers bearing a long list of anti-war and anti-pollution grievances.
The protesters members of a group known as Critical Mass were hurried along by six motorcycle officers, 35 D.C. Bike Patrol officers and a dozen police cruisers.
Drivers were first accosted near the FBI building at Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and traffic was delayed about five minutes while the protesters rode in circles around the intersection.
At 17th and K streets, however, drivers grew more and more angry as traffic came to an almost 10-minute halt. Police began moving the protesters along at a faster clip toward Dupont Circle. The ride then looped through Georgetown before ending outside the World Bank at 18th and H streets NW.
The Critical Mass group added about 20 minutes to the average downtown commute last night, giving the city a sample of what to expect today through Monday.
D.C. police have been gearing up all week for a variety of demonstrations this weekend by more than a dozen groups that organizers predict will draw more than 50,000 protesters.
Four marches today will support both Palestinians and Israelis and protest the policies of the World Bank, global capitalism and President Bush's war on terrorism.
A series of downtown road closures went into effect at midnight yesterday, police said. A security perimeter with cement barriers is in place around the World Bank from F Street to the south of the bank, H Street to the north, 17th Street to the east and 21st Street to the west.
An additional closure is set for Monday, from noon until midnight, along a stretch of Connecticut Avenue NW north of Dupont Circle where anti-Israel demonstrations are planned outside the Washington Hilton.
D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey says he is most concerned about clashes between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
"Certain demonstrations draw counterdemonstrators," Chief Ramsey said. He cited verbal clashes Monday between a small group of pro-Israeli demonstrators and pro-Palestinian counterdemonstrators that resulted in one of three arrests at the otherwise peaceful pro-Israeli rally at the U.S. Capitol.
Peter Hebert, a Bethesda pro-Israeli activist, said he does not expect serious clashes today between groups demonstrating on Middle East issues.
"The violence is not going to come from the pro-Israel side," Mr. Hebert said. "If there is violence it will come from the anti-World Bank and anti-IMF people."
After negotiating with protesters this week, police granted permits to an anti-globalization group for a rally today outside the World Bank and a march in front of three downtown corporate offices.
Mobilization for Global Justice will 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."

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