- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 28, 2002

D.C. workers who ignored official warnings to avoid driving downtown yesterday had a lighter-than-usual commute, shorter lunch lines and only minor disruptions by International Monetary Fund and World Bank protesters, which some found entertaining.
"It's the invasion of the nerds," said John Kindall, 35, a foreman who stood with co-worker William Lee on E Street NW watching protesters at Freedom Plaza.
"We're not going to let any punks stop us from working," Mr. Lee, 29, said.
"They told us to be cautious. I'm not worried," Mr. Kindall said. "They don't look like they could hurt too many people. The police are doing a good job."
Police, transportation and government officials had been advising people with jobs in downtown Washington to take Metro rather than driving, or stay home because demonstrators had threatened to disrupt rush-hour traffic and shut down the city yesterday.
The morning commute, which Metropolitan police Chief Charles H. Ramsey had said would be horrific, was "extremely light," said Bob Marbourg, head traffic reporter for WTOP Radio.
"It was obvious that many, many people elected to avoid the hassle and take the day off," Mr. Marbourg said. "The impact of the demonstrations was greater on the demonstrators than it was on the people who work in Washington."
One minor incident involving protesters stopped traffic on the 14th Street Bridge for 30 minutes about 8 a.m., but otherwise motorists encountered only random downtown backups caused by roving bands of protesters. Attempts by demonstrators to sabotage a few Metro stations early in the morning failed.
Metro ridership was down, suggesting that many workers took the advice of authorities and took the day off.
But not Rick Sank, 46, a construction superintendent from Pasadena, Md. Mr. Sank ate lunch with two co-workers about noon in the nearly empty MacPherson Square at 14th Street and Vermont Avenue NW, where hours earlier protesters had first scuffled with police.
"There's a lot less people for a Friday," Mr. Sank said. "Usually we can't find a place to sit."
Some workers came into the District against their wishes.
"I had no choice. I need to pay the bills," said Marcus Houston, 37, who manages the Washington Cafe and Grill on Vermont Street NW across from the Citibank where protesters smashed windows.
"I was trying to recommend to my boss that we close, but you know how that is."
Others, like Soul Camara, 28, who owns Beau Jolies cafe at the corner of Vermont Avenue and K Street NW, came to protect their property.
"They were showing this stuff on TV, so I was kind of concerned about my place," he said.
Then there were some who were ambivalent about the protests.
"Downtown here, we get used to this sort of thing and just deal with it," said Eric Wilsey, 44, a government contractor from Manassas.


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