- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2002

Activists capped a weekend of protests in the District yesterday by marching against a war in Iraq, while the global trade meetings they had come to disrupt went on as planned and an overwhelming police presence kept the demonstrations in check.
About 1,000 protesters marched from Dupont Circle in Northwest to the vice-presidential residence a few miles away on Massachusetts Avenue.
The protesters, whose permitted rally and march were sponsored by a group called Peace Action, gathered at Dupont Circle before 2 p.m. and began their march about 3:15. Demonstrators filled the circle nearly to capacity, and police kept a calm watch.
Protest organizer Daniel Freiheit, 44, a computer programmer from Arlington, said he was "very frightened by the success that President Bush has had in promoting right-wing ideology" and called a war against Iraq a "terrifying prospect."
As the demonstrators passed by several embassies on a stretch known as Embassy Row, the marchers were greeted with cheers and waves by people on the embassy grounds.
When the protesters passed a Muslim cultural center, they saluted with peace signs. Spectators on the center's steps returned the salute. Some protesters taped a sign that read "No war with Islam" to the gates, as others marched by chanting, "No justice, no peace, U.S. out of the Middle East."
The rally was halted in front of the British Embassy, adjacent to the vice president's residence, where demonstrators spread out for about a half-hour on a grassy patch across Massachusetts Avenue.
Beka Economopoulos, 28, a student in New York City, came to the District this weekend to see her sister, an International Monetary Fund employee, who recently had a baby.
She said her presence at the anti-globalization demonstrations created some interesting political discourse within her family, but she said she shouldn't be classified as anti-American.
"I think people are out here because they believe in freedom," she said. "I think we're really blessed in this country. I'm no protester. I'm not out for the notches in the bedpost of how many times I can get arrested. I feel there's so much support against this war worldwide we're only going to be drumming up anti-American sentiment."
One protester with the group Europeans for Action said he wasn't discouraged by the small number of protesters, nor the fact that they never got within sight of the vice president's residence.
"This was symbolic," said the man, who identified himself only as Frodo. "It was small, but great."
Like Saturday's rallies and marches, yesterday's events were peaceful much different from Friday's demonstrations in which 649 persons were arrested.
Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Wyseloa Smith said no arrests were made.
As he did on Saturday, Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey maintained a low profile. The chief shadowed the march as it wound its way from Dupont Circle past the embassies.
The Mobilization for Global Justice, which sponsored Saturday's march on the World Bank/IMF headquarters, also held a "people's assembly" in Farragut Square yesterday morning.
The event drew about 100 protesters, who gathered in small groups to discuss their plans.
The assembly went "very well" said organizer David Levy, although Mr. Levy said the financial institutions had yet to meet any of the protesters' demands.
He said protesters want the institutions to cancel the debts of poor countries, end policies they say impoverish people around the world, stop environmentally damaging projects and bring openness to the meetings of the finance ministers.
Mr. Levy said the World Bank and IMF are beginning to "feel the heat" from sustained protests during the past three years.
IMF spokesman Bill Murray said protests and rallies had no substantive effect on either the meetings or on policies discussed.
Mr. Murray said the global financial institutions welcome the new attention.
He said next year's annual meetings will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The marches yesterday forced city officials to again remove several of the "Party Animal" statues.
The "Party Animals" a citywide art project consisting of 100 donkeys and 100 elephants, each 4 feet tall and weighing 800 pounds were on display on sidewalks and in squares around the District.
With protests looming, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities scrambled two weeks ago to carry 63 of the more than 200 statues to safety, using forklifts and trucks to take them to the campus of American University.
"We wanted to get them out of the way so they're not potential targets that people will mess with," said Samantha Lane, assistant manager of the "Party Animals" project.
She said eight more statues were moved yesterday as protests snaked through new neighborhoods.
The Turkish Embassy welcomed three of the statues behind its gates.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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