- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

BERLIN German officials, stunned by their inability to control radical leftists and anarchists during a May Day riot on the streets of Berlin, are mounting one of the biggest police operations in the city's history to protect President Bush.

Nearly 10,000 police officers will come from around the country to keep order in the German capital during Mr. Bush's 19-hour visit, which begins this evening,police spokesman Uwe Kozelnik said.

"The safety of our guest is our top priority," he said.

In a preview of what Mr. Bush can expect, 20,000 protesters chanted "Yankee go home" during a march through Berlin yesterday.

German authorities have mobilized 10,000 police a postwar record for a state guest to contain potential violence from demonstrators protesting on issues ranging from a possible U.S. attack on Iraq to Washington's policies on trade, the environment and the Middle East.

The demonstration yesterday was peaceful, but police want to avoid a repeat of May Day, when they temporarily lost control and protesters went on a rampage, looting stores, setting cars on fire and attacking police.

For Mr. Bush's visit, the police department has let protesters know that rioting will be met with "relentlessness and all necessary force."

Some protesters carried placards yesterday that read "Pretzels instead of bombs" and "War is terror stop the global Bush fire."

Meanwhile, several hundred pro-U.S. demonstrators paraded at the former U.S.-run border crossing between East and West Berlin, dubbed Checkpoint Charlie.

"The questions of war and peace are paramount in the protests against the politics of the United States," Philipp Hersel, a member of the anti-globalization ATTAC group, said in an interview.

"We also want to raise criticisms about how the USA ignores international global-warming regulations, as well as how it evades international penal codes."

The Party of Democratic Socialism, made up of former communists who share power with the Social Democrats in Berlin, supports the demonstrations.

"We are against war as a political tool," argued Berlin party spokesman Axel Hildebrandt, who also pleaded for peaceful protests.

Police plan to keep the demonstrators out of sight and earshot of the visiting presidential delegation.

Construction projects will cease during the visit, and air traffic over Berlin will be suspended during Mr. Bush's arrival and departure.

Berlin's landmark Brandenburg Gate will be turned into a high-security zone.

Mr. Bush will hold meetings with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Johannes Rau, who will welcome him with military honors. He will also deliver a speech to the German parliament.

Despite the expected protests and fear of violence, polls indicate that the majority of Germans are looking forward to the president's visit. Berliners are highly conscious of their close connection to the United States, going back to President Kennedy's Cold War speech in which he said, "ich bin ein Berliner."

President Reagan's speech in Berlin urging then-Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall," foreshadowed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.


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