- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

Demonstrators who vowed to "shut down the city" were thwarted yesterday by D.C. police, who arrived earlier, in larger numbers and with greater resolve to do the shutting down.

Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said 649 of the estimated 1,750 demonstrators who took to the streets yesterday were arrested. He said he expects between 10,000 and 20,000 to rally today against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

But Chief Ramsey predicted less trouble for today's protests. The Mobilization for Global Justice is sponsoring a permitted rally at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall and a march to World Bank/IMF headquarters on 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Yesterday, Chief Ramsey's focus was clearly on containing anarchist groups who took to the streets. Police showed little tolerance for the demonstrators' unpermitted marches, which ended in several mass arrests, including one of more than 200 protesters who had been herded into Pershing Park at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

A visibly agitated Chief Ramsey defended the arrests and shot back at protesters who said they weren't given enough warning of police intentions.

"We gave warning for people to get out of the street, but remember, they had no business in the street. There was no parade," the chief said. "For the last four months, these folks have been talking about shutting down the city. And that happens to be illegal."

Five demonstrators were charged with misdemeanor destruction of property, Chief Ramsey said. The rest were charged either with failure to obey a police officer or parading without a permit. Police said those with identification would be released on $100 bond last night.

Meanwhile, protected by steel fences, closed streets and lines of police, world finance leaders meeting at the Blair House near the White House pledged last night a joint effort to strengthen corporate-disclosure requirements.

Meeting in advance of the IMF-World Bank conference, they also predicted that the pace of global growth would quicken in the months ahead. The Group of Eight finance chiefs sought to project confidence in the face of a slumping global economy and a worsening economic crisis in Latin America.

In a joint statement, the finance ministers and central bank presidents said that while "risks remain," they believed that coordinated action would keep the current fledgling economic recovery from faltering.

"We are committed to sound economic policies and structural reforms and to working together to improve corporate disclosure, enhance corporate accountability and strengthen the independence of auditing," they said in the one-page communique.

Although yesterday's protests sponsored by the Anti-Capitalist Convergence were said to be aimed at major oil companies and military action against Iraq, the activity devolved into little more than a series of hot confrontations between police and demonstrators.

Threats to disrupt the morning rush hour resulted in few major problems. The city was quiet until 7 a.m., when there was a report of a bomb at 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Moments later, about 20 demonstrators ran into the street and chained seven of their own to a "Sleeping Dragon."

The "Sleeping Dragon" was made up of 5-gallon buckets with holes cut in the sides, through which protesters put their arms to prevent officers from quickly cutting the chain underneath.

But the Metropolitan Police Department's Emergency Response Unit had the group unchained within 10 minutes. Dozen of arrests were made, and the intersection, which is connected to the 14th Street Bridge from Virginia, reopened by 7:15 a.m.

About 200 protesters assembled at Franklin Park and splintered into smaller groups of marchers. About 100 of them were halted by a line of officers on motorcycles at K Street and Vermont Avenue.

One protester sprayed the words "class war" in black paint on the window of a downtown Bank of America branch, and another protester tossed a smoke bomb toward the police line. In the panic that followed, two objects were thrown through the windows of the Vermont Avenue Citibank branch.

Officers, having kicked the smoke bomb down a street drain, made a tight circle around the protesters, backing them against the smashed window, which cracked further under the pressure. Several dozen in the crowd were arrested and loaded onto four Metrobuses.

Another large group of marchers passed the headquarters of Verizon at 12th and H streets NW just before 8:30 a.m., and about 30 demonstrators threw newspaper boxes from the sidewalks into the street and darted in and out of traffic. Police arrested about 20 protesters.

Meanwhile, about 60 protesters on bicycles rode without incident from Union Station to Dupont Circle before turning back to join up with other splinter groups at Pershing Park at 9:15 a.m. Inside the park, the demonstrators chanted, beat drums and sang.

Within minutes, police had the park surrounded by a line of officers, some in helmets carrying batons and others using bikes as barriers. Police shouted orders not to let the demonstrators leave the park.

One frustrated protester urged the group to get together against one spot on the police line because they appeared to be marching in a circle around the park.

Police then began shrinking the perimeter, and rounding Metrobuses to the southwest corner of the park, where one-by-one the protesters were wrestled into plastic handcuffs and loaded onto the buses.

As a smaller group of demonstrators shouted "let them go" from across Pennsylvania Avenue, the buses were filled and the detainees were carted to the police department training academy at Blue Plains in Southeast.

Later in the day, a protest of the Gap store on Wisconsin Avenue NW was peaceful. While a dozen D.C. police officers in full riot gear lined the front of the store, about 40 anti-sweatshop protesters were heavily outnumbered by reporters, photographers and street-corner gawkers.

After a half-hour of speeches, followed by a dozen men and women disrobing to their undergarments and chanting that they would rather wear nothing than wear Gap clothes, the protesters dispersed.

Fire and EMS department spokesman Alan Etter said one woman suffered a cut across her nose during the incident in front of the Citibank building. Three more protesters were transported from the police detainment facility at Blue Plains to local hospitals, two because of nausea and vomiting and one with chest pains, Mr. Etter said.

At a news conference, protest organizers hailed yesterday's action as a "success." Asked about two demonstrators who broke the Citibank window, ACC organizer Zein El Amin responded, "At the Boston Tea Party, do you talk about the damage to the tea?"

Patrick Badgley contributed to this report.

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