- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

The Metropolitan Police Department expects to spend $14 million on the protests later this month at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and the federal government needs to pick up its share of the costs in manpower and dollars. After all, law and order must be maintained.

So far, the police department plans for the Sept. 25-29 event appear to be two-fold: Recruit 1,500 law-enforcement officers from other jurisdictions, which is precisely what happened in past situations involving such large protests; and maintain a full contingent of officers in D.C. neighborhoods to help ward off daily criminal activity and to keep an eye on the protesters, who will be using Metro stations in those neighborhoods. However, that plan already faces a substantial hurdle. In the past, Metropolitan Police have recruited as many as 3,600 officers from about a dozen cities. This time, Police Chief Charles Ramsey is having trouble recruiting half as many, because some of those law-enforcement agencies have yet to be reimbursed for earlier services. Their reluctance is understandable.

The IMF and World Bank streamlined their annual meetings on the advice of U.S. and D.C. agencies, but the federal government has not stepped up and claimed its law-enforcement and financial responsibilities. The Bush administration agreed to reimburse the city for last year's costs, which were $16 million, but still owes $3.2 million. Add that to the $14 million in costs estimated for this month's week long protests and, so far, the Bush administration's financial responsibilities total $30 million in law-enforcement costs alone. Those other federal responsibilities include making certain that the several federal law-enforcement agencies in Washington not only police their home turf but necessarily assist Metropolitan Police.

Prior to and during the meetings later this month, the anarchists and other protesters plan to wreak havoc. They are planning to begin their vigils and demonstrations on Sept. 25, three days prior to the official IMF/World Bank meetings. High on their list of priorities are a so-called people's strike and plans to disrupt traffic. They specifically want to encircle and isolate workers in the IMF-World Bank headquarters in Foggy Bottom. Chief Ramsey must not allow that to happen. Meanwhile, some of the protests are staged events for which the organizers already have permits. One organizing group, the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, which is a D.C.-based coalition of anarchists and anti-capitalists, is urging public- and private-sector employees to stay away from work and school, stage sit-ins, and give away their businesses' products. Organizers also are urging participants to be creative in their actions, which means trouble will surely lurk with fringe outfits that might use violence or destroy public property. Whatever the protesters' tactics, law and order must prevail.

In sum, the organizers, including the Mobilization for Global Justice, greens and college students in the region, appear hell bent on fomenting chaos. Fortunately, Chief Ramsey has been able to keep disruption of our daily lives to a minimum, and that was partly due to the augmentation of officers from elsewhere. This time we expect the same not just from his officers, but from the federal government as well.


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