- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2008

Entire District blocks and the Judiciary Square Metro station are being closed this weekend in preparation for the momentous Group of 20 nations economic summit. Blocks away, however, heavy-metal band AC/DC will try to keep the “Highway to Hell” open.

As the international heavyweights try to get the world economy back in black, security personnel face thousands of protesters trying to shake the city all weekend long as well as deal with the Australian group’s concert Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

The emergency meeting at the National Building Museum will be the largest gathering of foreign leaders in the District since President Bush took office. But officials said they are prepared for the roughly 40 expected protest-related events and — perhaps loudest of all — the concert.

See related stories: G-20 to serve full plate of ideas, G-20 to weigh global banking oversight and Group of 20 to take spotlight amid crisis

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the department will deploy about 2,000 officers Saturday — including members of the department’s Diplomatic Security Service — to help the Secret Service in such assignments as closing roads, monitoring protests and providing motorcade detail and protection for Mr. Bush, the 20 expected dignitaries and others attending the summit. Mr. Bush called the summit to deal with the worldwide financial crisis.

The last time so many dignitaries came to the area was last year for the Middle East summit in Annapolis, which included about 50 heads of state and government. Roughly the same number attended NATO’s 50th anniversary summit in the District in 1999, during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Organizers for Global Justice Action, formed exclusively for protesting the G-20 summit, said they will host a People’s Summit to offer “a vision of an inclusive, sustainable, people-centered economy that works for all the world’s families.”

The group has planned a People’s Banquet on Friday night at Lafayette Park, which borders the White House where President Bush will be hosting a gala dinner for the G-20 delegates. The event will provide free meals for all who attend, and will also include musicians and speakers.

“The People’s Banquet is basically a feast for those left hungry and out in the cold by U.S. economic policies,” said group spokeswoman Lacy MacAuley.

On Saturday, the group will gather for a rally at Murrow Park, next to the World Bank Building at 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. At noon, they will march from the park to Luther Place Church, at Logan Circle Park, where they will conduct a People’s Forum to offer alternative solutions to the current economic crisis.

“Clearly the current system is not working, and we want to offer real alternatives to what the G-20 leaders are proposing,” said Samantha Miller, spokeswoman for the D.C. Students for a Democratic Society, also an event organizer.

Miss Miller said they expect up to 1,000 people to attend.

Metro will close Judiciary Square’s F Street entrance Friday night, leaving the 4th and D streets entrance open. The Metro station will be closed entirely Saturday until 8 p.m. Metro trains will run through the station, but will not stop there.

Metro officials said they do not expect the station closing to be an inconvenience to riders.

“We are not expecting any problems,” said Taryn McNiel, a Metro spokeswoman, noting that Judiciary Square station is used mainly by weekday commuters. She said that on average there are about 1,600 entries and exits at the Judiciary Square Metro stop on Saturdays, compared with more 22,000 entries and exits for nearby Galleryplace-Chinatown station, which is home to many shops, restaurants, as well as the Verizon Center.

Metro riders should be aware that the transit agency recently said it would conduct random searches of passenger’s bags at the gate. Those who refuse a search will not be allowed board Metro with their bags.

Chief Lanier said the agency could deploy some many officers because of a previously scheduled “All Hands on Deck” initiative this weekend, in which all patrol officers were going to be assigned street patrol duty in all seven of the city’s police districts. The initiative has been postponed until next weekend.

“We’re fortunate we had all of this already planned out, and because of the full activation we’ll have plenty of officers on hand for all of the city’s needs,” she said.

The agency will block off a six-block square around the museum from Friday night through Saturday afternoon when the summit ends.

Embassies around Washington are also checking last-minute details in preparation for foreign leaders who will attend the weekend summit.

“Whenever the president visits, it creates quite a considerable amount of activity,” a French diplomat said Thursday. The presidents and prime ministers will be traveling with a contingent of finance ministers, aides, and foreign reporters.

Italian Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta praised the Bush administration for its preparations for the summit.

“We’re very happy with the planning from the State Department, the Treasury Department, the National Security Council,” he said. “They have done outstanding work.”

The AC/DC concert will be Saturday night at the Verizon Center, just blocks from the museum. Sheila Francis, a center spokeswoman, said she did not foresee problems.

“Most people who live in the D.C. area are familiar with a lot of events going on at once in the same area, so they plan in advance,” she said.

Ian Bauder, Nicholas Kralev, and James Morrison contributed to this report.

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