- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2002

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey yesterday warned that commuters should not plan to drive to work Sept. 27 because anti-capitalist demonstrators plan to shut down all traffic into the District.
"If you plan to drive to work on the 27th, bring a sandwich and a good CD to listen to because you could be struck in traffic for a while," Chief Ramsey said.
The chief said he expects traffic on all bridges into the city, plus Metrorail service, will be hampered by demonstrators protesting the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
"You have to look at the entire city. We don't know where they will strike," Chief Ramsey said.
Protest organizers are expecting more than 10,000 demonstrators in town between Sept. 25 and 29 to protest the World Bank and IMF meetings. The meetings are scheduled for Sept. 28 and 29.
Protesters in previous demonstrations have tried to block delegates from attending the meeting, but this year they plan to prevent everyone from entering the city.
Protest organizer Michael Loadenthal, a member of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, said several demonstrations are planned to block people from entering the city Sept. 27.
"The chief has a very good assessment of what to expect," Mr. Loadenthal said. "We are planning to shut the city down."
He said all forms of transportation, including the Metro, will be targeted, adding that the extent of the traffic stoppage will depend on the number of demonstrators.
"It is the day before the IMF meetings and the last day of the fiscal year. We are encouraging workers and students to strike, to make business as usual not happen," he said.
Chief Ramsey said he is concerned that escape routes from the city could be blocked in the event of a terrorist attack.
"This is a public safety issue, if they plan to block every escape route from the city," the police chief said. "Just think if a man has a heart attack and we can't get an ambulance to him."
Mr. Loadenthal said protesters have no intention of preventing ambulances from entering the city or otherwise doing anything that will harm anyone. "We are not trying to injure anyone, and no one is stopping an ambulance from coming into the city," he said.
Chief Ramsey said that Web sites operated by the demonstrators are promoting "scavenger hunts" that encourage protesters to break windows or cause other property damage.
"They are making it a game," he said. "They are no longer demonstrators. They've become hooligans."
But Mr. Loadenthal and a spokesman for the Mobilization for Global Justice, another organizing group, said no one is promoting "scavenger hunts" or property damage.
In April 2000, more than 10,000 activists descended on the District for a week of World Bank and IMF protests, ending in a two-day showdown with police that led to more than 1,200 arrests.


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