- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2002

The D.C. police force is on its highest level of alert in anticipation of weekend protests of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund slated to begin today, Chief Charles H. Ramsey said.
Some 1,700 police officers from 24 jurisdictions around the region and as far as Georgia and Ohio will assist D.C. police in handling what protest organizers estimate could be crowds of up to 10,000 people over the weekend.
The Metropolitan Police Department's Joint Operations Command Center was activated at 6 a.m. yesterday, and all of the force's 3,600 officers will be working through the weekend in 12-hour shifts that began yesterday morning, Chief Ramsey said. The majority of D.C. police will remain on patrol in the neighborhoods, he said.
While those officers will be on duty tomorrow and Sunday, Chief Ramsey said he is most concerned about protests scheduled for today, which are being staged by a group called the Anti-Capitalist Convergence. The ACC has threatened to "shut down the city" as part of a "people's strike" that includes unpermitted pedestrian and bicycle marches, as well as "die-ins" and banner drops.
"I think [today] is going to be the most challenging day," Chief Ramsey said yesterday. "This anarchist group, the ACC, that's planning this event is the group that in the past has caused us problems and caused problems in other parts of the country. They do engage in more violent direct action. They're the ones we're most concerned about. That's why Friday's activities are quite different from Saturday's and Sunday's activities."
The chief said the police are as prepared as possible, but conceded traffic tie-ups are likely.
"They are going to tie up traffic, there's no doubt about that," Chief Ramsey said. "The reality is we're looking at some inclement weather tomorrow. That coupled with the protest means it's going to be a very difficult commute day. So people need to be aware of that."
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he "endorsed" Chief Ramsey's warnings to commuters.
"It's a fine line between being realistic and cowering in the face of threats and taunts and everything else," Mr. Williams said on the WTOP (AM 1500) "Ask the Mayor" show.
Chief Ramsey said after reports he has heard that protesters might try to damage government buildings, break windows and use Molotov cocktails, he would be satisfied if all that occurs is a few traffic disruptions.
But the chief also issued a warning to protesters who might be considering unlawful activities.
"We will seek local and federal charges against these individuals and we will be pushing for harsh penitentiary terms for individuals who engage in that type of conduct," Chief Ramsey said.
The chief said demonstrations tomorrow and Sunday, which are sponsored by the Mobilization for Global Justice, likely would be more "mainstream."
He said police have had more success dealing with that group in the past.
MGJ protest organizers say they plan to hold peaceful, nonviolent demonstrations.
The vast majority of protesters descending on the city are expected to attend the weekend events, and the chief said he believes most of them will not participate in today's protests.
In preparation for the weekend demonstrations, police were erecting fences around World Bank headquarters to block pedestrian and vehicle traffic. That area will remain closed until at least Sunday night, and further weekend street closings are likely to be announced today.
Metro announced it has banned bicycles and large coolers from its trains today, tomorrow and Sunday. They say there also will be undercover officers in trains and stations, and at a special operations command center to keep an eye on things.
The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles is closing its C Street NW office today and tomorrow, and D.C. police won't offer any public services tomorrow at their 300 Indiana Ave. NW headquarters.

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