- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

Two rocks shattered a window at a McPherson Square bank, but they didn't break Bill Hohman's resolve.

A march yesterday by about 200 protesters came to a quick but combative end at Vermont Avenue NW and K Street yesterday morning, near Mr. Hohman's Vermont Avenue restaurant.

The restaurant, Julia's Empanadas, escaped damage and he opened for business on schedule.

But a branch of Citibank, next door, did not. Protesters made an unconventional deposit at Citibank two fist-sized rocks hidden in a backpack during an ineffective demonstration. It was the only significant damage to downtown businesses during the "March to Put a Squeeze on Capitalist Greed" by groups protesting policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which started their annual fall meeting yesterday.

The sidewalk in front of the businesses became an unexpected battleground. Police in riot gear penned in protesters on Vermont Avenue between K and L streets just two blocks after their march began at Franklin Square early yesterday morning.

Mr. Hohman found out about the standoff while watching television at home.

"I thought I was going to have to close for the day. I figured they'd break one of my windows, too. When you start throwing rocks, you don't really aim," he said.

Julia's Empanadas wasn't a target. Maybe it was the 'made by hand' and 'baked with love' signs hanging in Mr. Hohman's window. His employees were setting up tables and chairs just one hour after police squelched the protest.

Two banks on the 1000 block of Vermont Ave. were vandalized before a forceful and surgical police operation that extinguished the protest.

The Citibank branch at 1000 Vermont Ave. incurred the worst damage when protesters destroyed a massive pane of glass by hurtling two rocks through the window. The rocks landed well inside the bank, which had not opened. Two employees inside were shaken but unharmed.

The bank remained closed, and repairmen worked the rest of the morning to board up the windows.

"I think everyone's fine," spokesman Mark Rodgers said.

A few steps away protesters painted "class war" on a window at a Bank of America branch, at 1090 Vermont Ave.

"We weren't expecting any problems at all. It's unfortunate that it occurred," spokeswoman Terri Bolling said.

The graffiti didn't turn out to be a lasting statement. It took a building maintenance worker little time to scrub the letters off the window.

At the other end of the block, groups of demonstrators returned around 10 a.m. to claim backpacks belonging to arrested protesters.

The ingredients of the protest included trail mix, a skateboard, rocks, numerous cans of spray paint and loaves of bread. An open backpack had a calendar clearly visible. It was open to a page outlining one protester's agenda, hour by hour: independent study, calculus, French 3, history, English II and chemistry.

A pair of city workers converged on the street corner driving vehicles equipped with oversized vaccuums. They sucked up the unclaimed remnants: stocking caps, gloves, leaflets, bottles of water, an unopened pair of goggles.

"This is my block. I feel kind of like it's an invasion. I'm sorry to see the impact it's going to have on the merchants," said Judy Marks, who has worked at a company on the 1000 block of Vermont Avenue the past five years.

Wonder Graphics, also in the building at 1000 Vermont Ave. NW, decided not to court danger. A sign on the front door said it would be closed Friday.

But Mr. Hohman and others who opened for business were resilient.

Sam Chung, who owns Vermont News and Variety, at 1006 Vermont Ave., didn't even lock his doors.

Joe, who owns the Roasting House at 1004 Vermont Ave. NW and declined to give his last name, said he was concerned the march would be bigger and more violent.

"Overall it was much better than I expected," he said.

By 9 a.m. he greeted regular customers.

"Are you open?" one man asked Joe.

"Of course," he said.


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