- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 26, 2009

More than 100 protesters, upset with the way world leaders have handled the economic crisis, clashed with police Saturday outside the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington.

Authorities used batons and pepper spray when activists tried to march onto a prohibited street, and several people were pushed to the ground by police. The protesters swarmed officers unexpectedly, and police had to respond, said D.C. police Capt. Jeffrey Harold.

A 22-year-old man accused of using pepper spray on an officer during the scuffle was arrested, D.C. police said. Before the demonstrations began, police arrested six people and accused them of vandalizing two banks, an incident that authorities think was linked to the protests.

Protesters claimed police responded without warning.

“This was very excessive,” said the Rev. Don Thompson, 73, who was observing the protest on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. “They didn’t give us a warning to get off the street.”

Mr. Thompson was knocked to the ground as police pushed activists backward near an IMF building. His elbow was scraped and bleeding.

Two demonstrators were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, said D.C. fire department spokesman Billy Hayes.

• Click here to see related story: World looks to U.S. to spark recovery

Earlier, demonstrators tried to block three intersections, including an area near hotels where they said meeting delegates were staying. But in each case, the protesters were steered back to the sidewalk by police.

Nicole Davis, 22, of Washington, who participated in one of the morning blockades outside a hotel, said police physically lifted her and nine other protesters and moved them from the street to the sidewalk.

Ms. Davis said IMF and World Bank policies are hurting the poor.

“Capitalism clearly is not working,” Ms. Davis said. “I think there needs to be a different system.”

The IMF is a Washington-based lending institution that monitors the global economy, warns of impending crises and provides financial and technical advice to its 185 member nations.

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