DC Police Crack Down on Anti-Capitalist Protests

Fri Sep 27, 2002

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Police took a tough line on Friday against anti-globalization protesters hoping to disrupt Washington D.C. during meetings of the world's leading finance policy-makers, arresting hundreds of them and largely foiling their efforts to block traffic.

2002 IMF Annual Meetings<

AP - Protesters Try to Shut Down Capital

Hundreds Arrested At DC IMF Protests

By early afternoon 649 people had been taken into custody, according to police who mounted a strong show of force in and around the partly barricaded downtown area throughout the day.

The demonstrators were targeting meetings of the Group of Seven industrialized nations on Friday and of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Saturday.

One group of protesters met in a park early in the morning and marched for two blocks before being stopped by police in riot gear who penned the group into one city block and arrested everyone inside their perimeter.

Police shoved handcuffed protesters and loaded them onto city buses. In a midday sweep at Freedom Plaza, a grassy park not far from the White House, police filled about 10 buses with demonstrators.

Greenpeace executive director John Passandando was among several bystanders arrested in error during the Freedom Plaza sweep, Passandando's attorney Tom Fetterer told Reuters.

"He was on the way to work and he stopped downtown to see what was going on," Fetterer said. "There was no warning, they just encircled the crowd and wouldn't let anyone leave."

Small bands of protesters popped up at various sites around the downtown area throughout the afternoon, keeping police speeding from place to place to face them.

The demonstrators, many of whom waved black flags and wore bandannas to cover their faces, were far outnumbered by police in riot gear on foot, motorcycles, bicycles or horseback.

Police from as far away as Miami and Chicago were brought in to beef up city forces for the weekend. Protesters have vowed to keep up demonstrations Saturday when the IMF and World Bank hold their annual meeting.

Organizers told reporters one woman was taken to hospital after being struck in the face, and two protesters were hurt in jostles with police.

One protester said she saw several people struck on the head, and criticized the police for being heavy-handed.

"These are people trying to protest against a system that represses people around the world, and their response is repression on the streets here too," said Flora Little, 38, from Richmond, Virginia.

But some bystanders who faced tangled commutes to their offices or had their Washington sightseeing trips disrupted had little sympathy for the mostly youthful protesters.


"There's a fine line between democracy and stupidity. Especially in this climate after 9/11," said Carol Tyler of San Mateo, Calif., referring to Sept. 11 attacks last year against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon sites near Washington. "You really have to err on the conservative side."

Around the downtown area where the G7 finance ministers were to meet and near the sprawling headquarters of the IMF and World Bank, protesters moved in groups of 40 to 50 amid howling sirens and beating drums.

"This is what a police state looks like," they chanted.

"They are not letting people assemble. It's incredible brutality," said organizer Andrew Willis. "People were just arrested at a 'beat the war drum' rally before they even picked up their drums."

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, the group behind Friday's protests, did not seek permits for its demonstrations. The ACC believes capitalism breeds poverty and limits the freedom of the world's poor, and is calling for the overthrow of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

G7 finance ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States were set to meet in the mid-afternoon at a government guest house directly across from the White House under heavy security.

No activity was reported near the IMF and World Bank buildings Friday, where police stood on guard in riot gear.

U.S. National - AP

Hundreds Arrested at D.C. Protest

Fri Sep 27,  2002 8:39 PM ET

By JONATHAN D. SALANT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Protesters opposed to war, capitalism and global trade policies clashed with police Friday as finance ministers from around the world began a weekend of meetings. More than 600 people were arrested, and one protester was slightly injured.

The protesters had threatened to shut down the nation's capital but caused only minimal disruptions to the morning rush as they snaked through the city on foot and on bicycles, waving signs that said "End Corporate Greed" and "Drop Bush not bombs." Police Chief Charles Ramsey estimated that 1,500 to 2,000 people participated in the rolling demonstrations.

"The whole world is watching," some protesters chanted as they were being arrested.

All the protests occurred blocks away from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund ( news - web sites) buildings, where meetings began inside a cocoon of fences, closed streets and police.

Of the 649 demonstrators taken into custody, five were charged with destruction of property; the rest were charged with failing to obey a police officer or parading without a permit, Ramsey said.

Police on motorcycles and horses corralled hundreds of protesters in a grassy area a few blocks from the White House. Demonstrators and legal observers said police made no effort to disperse the crowd and refused to let people leave before beginning the arrests. "They took out not just activists, they took out bystanders, they took out tourists," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer with the Partnership for Civil Justice, which sued the city over police tactics during demonstrations two years ago.

Among those arrested was the executive director of Greenpeace, John Passacantando, who said he was just riding his bicycle to work near the demonstration. Passacantando spoke Thursday at an environmental rally outside the World Bank.

Ramsey said the arrests were justified. "We gave warnings," he said. "We followed everything by the book."

Other demonstrators were arrested after windows were broken at a downtown Citibank office.

In the afternoon, a dozen protesters stripped to their underwear while standing on the stump of a redwood tree they had placed across from a Gap store in Washington's Georgetown district. The self-described "Gaptivists" chanted "we'd rather wear nothing than wear Gap" and accused the company's owners of being involved in logging and running sweatshops.

"There are injustices going on all around the world, and the Gap and the IMF and the World Bank are all a part of it," said Anna Gennari, 21, from St. Louis. "It would be worth getting arrested if the message came across."

Gap Inc. did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday.

Patrick Reinsborough, an organizer with the Mobilization for Global Justice, said plans were moving forward for a larger rally and march Saturday. The group wants the financial institutions to cancel Third World debt and end economic policies they say harm the poor.

"We've called for peaceful, dignified, nonviolent, creative actions," Reinsborough said.

Ramsey said officials were expecting 10,000 to 20,000 demonstrators Saturday.

Many commuters heeded officials' advice to avoid driving into the downtown area Friday, leaving many streets empty and silent.

At one downtown intersection, protesters chained themselves together to block traffic. Other demonstrators danced in the street with mud and leaves smeared on their hair and clothes. Firefighters put out a few tires set ablaze on the outskirts of town. Police also contended with a barrage of fake 911 calls.

In April 2000, police arrested about 1,300 people during demonstrations opposing the financial institutions and their policies.

On the Net: Mobilization for Global Justice: http://www.globalizethis.org

Anti-Capitalist Convergence: http://www.abolishthebank.org

District of Columbia police: http://www.mpdc.dc.gov

Quotes From D.C. Protests

Fri Sep 27, 5:03 PM ET

By The Associated Press

Quotes from Friday's protests in Washington:

"Today's action was a success. We truly interrupted capitalism as usual in Washington, D.C." — Rae Valentine, a Washington organizer for the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, at a news conference Friday.

"Our primary message today was the savagery, the devastation to hundreds of thousands of people's lives. At the Boston tea party, do you report the damage to the tea or do you talk about taxation without representation?" — Zein El-Amine, another ACC organizer, asked if his group condoned protesters breaking windows of a Citibank branch.

"I wish more of our movement concentrated on its message (rather) than its tactics, like running through the streets." Andrew Pearson, 25, a protester from Chapel Hill, N.C.

"Guys in suits are walking by and smiling and saying, `Hi,' to us. I don't know if that means they're absorbing the message." — Noreen McAuliffe, 26, of Washington, holding a cardboard poster reading: "Wake up, America!"

"A lot of people put their fists in the air and said, 'Right on.'" — Adam Eidinger, 29, who participated in a bike ride designed to snarl downtown traffic.

"As long as they're peaceful, they'll be OK, but we make a judgment call." — Police Chief Charles Ramsey.

"Yeah, sure I have concerns. But I balance it against his education as well. Everything's risky. ... I want him to see the entirety of America." — Protester Mike Madden, 42, of Springfield, Va., on why he brought his 14-year-old son, Sean, to the protests.

"It was definitely intense." — Sean Madden.

"We drove from New York, and we're hoping not to get arrested in the first five minutes." — Protester Dan Ueda, 25, of Cliffside Park, N.J.

"There are injustices going on all around the world and the Gap and the IMF ( news - web sites) and the World Bank ( news - web sites) are all a part of it." — Anna Gennari, 21, from St. Louis, on why she stripped to her underwear outside the Gap to protest the company's labor and environmental practices.

"This is the headquarters. You take the battle to where the power is." — Kenyan Bishop Rt. Rev. Peter Njenga.

"They'll have their day in court like everybody else." — Ramsey after officers arrested more than 200 protesters in a park near the White House.

Police cordon off area around World Bank with protests underway

Fri Sep 27,10:48 AM ET

By JONATHAN D. SALANT, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Protesters chained themselves together, broke windows and harassed police with false emergency calls Friday in a loosely knit effort to shut down the nation's capital as financial ministers from around the world began a weekend meeting.

Protestors Gather For IMF-World Bank Meeting


City police, who brought in reinforcements from as far away as Chicago and Lowell, Massachusetts, arrested about 300 people during a rolling series of protests throughout the morning rush. Charges ranged from rioting to parading without a permit, Police Chief Charles Ramsey said.

The financial meetings began without interruption — surrounded by fences, closed streets and lines of police — while protesters were scattered elsewhere.

At one downtown intersection, protesters chained themselves together, and police had to cut the chains to arrest them. Fire trucks were called to put out a few tires set ablaze on the outskirts of town. Protesters broke windows at a Citibank office and tossed smoke bombs during a clash with police at another intersection.

"This is not a police state, we have a right to demonstrate," dozens of mostly young people chanted. Some wore bandanas over their faces.

At a downtown park, police on motorcycles, horseback and foot surrounded about 200 protesters who banged on drums and plastic buckets.

Braced for two more days of protests around the World Bank ( news - web sites) and International Monetary Fund ( news - web sites) meetings, Ramsey said his officers wouldn't interfere with lawful demonstrations.

"As long as they're peaceful, they'll be OK, but we make a judgment call," he said.

Dozens of other protesters rode bicycles through the city. The Anti-Capitalist Convergence said they were protesting the Bush administration's environmental policies, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and "corporate greed." Others were there to voice their opposition to war against Iraq.

Many emergency calls proved false. "It's another protester tactic," Officer Tony O'Leary, a police spokesman, said of the calls. "It's something we're prepared for."

Dan Ueda, 25, said he was nervous as he awaited the signal to lock arms with fellow protesters for a "snake march" through the city.

"We're hoping not to get arrested in the first five minutes," said Ueda of Cliffside Park, New Jersey.

Said Andrew Pearson, 25, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina: "I wish more of our movement concentrated on its message than its tactics, like running through the streets."

Pearson, who manages an independent bookstore, was holding a banner saying "World Bank-IMF Bad Investment in Destruction."

City police cordoned off an area around the World Bank. On the National Mall, officers stood guard outside the Lincoln Memorial and a fleet of tow trucks assembled at the base of the Washington Monument, ready to move any obstructions brought by protesters.

Many commuters heeded officials' advice to avoid driving into the downtown area and, with only a few exceptions, traffic kept flowing.

In April 2000, police arrested about 1,300 people during similar, but generally peaceful demonstrations.

Behind a protest movement, a thousand practicalities need tending

Thu Sep 26,11:33 PM ET

By ELIZABETH WOLFE, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Many of the protesters swamping Washington for the world finance meetings have little use for the material world, but they've got a mountain of practical matters to look after before they can raise their banners high.

Locating "anti-authoritarian" child care is one priority. So is finding vegetarian eats. Housing is a headache for the anarchists. "We're all pretty maxed out on housing," said Andrew Willis, an American University student and representative of the anarchist faction.

To the protesters, the weekend meetings of the International Monetary Fund ( news - web sites) and World Bank ( news - web sites) reek of money — ill-gotten money, they say. For that reason alone, even some demonstrators with enough cash of their own are reluctant to spend it.

Protesters squatting in an abandoned building or using a park bench for a bed might be able to afford better, but will give up a pillow for their ideals.

"Some people might be from well-off backgrounds but choose to live a life for political reasons that's not, you know, it doesn't rely on public consumption and all those other material things we're bombarded with," said Rami El Amine, an organizer with Anti-Capitalist Convergence. That anarchist group has converted a Methodist church near downtown into a welcome center.

The group hoped to shut down much of Washington on Friday by snarling traffic with a march and mass bicycle ride.

But before all that happened, there were a thousand practicalities to attend to. One was finding a place for young children to go to while their parents were on the streets. Many were steered to the Anti-Authoritarian Babysitters Club, described as "anarchists watching kids."

Activist Web sites list campgrounds, youth hostels and offers for free room and board. A row house for five turns into an overnight home for 16, and dorm rooms at local universities can look like slumber parties.

For some, how they live when not chanting slogans reflects the causes they espouse.

Local activist Kate Loewe persuaded her mother's neighbors to shelter visitors. While feeding an out-of-towner may not reduce the debt in a third-world country, "we want to model the world we want to see," she said.

Modes of transportation to Washington have been as varied as activists' hairstyles. Some younger cash-strapped protesters hopped trains to cross the country, while others flew in from Seattle. The Greyhound bus line has been getting a lot of business.

Southwest Airlines was the choice for self-proclaimed Marxist-humanist Tom Rainey from Berkeley, California, because "they treat their workers better."

Organizations also distribute a list of area vegetarian restaurants, though not everyone will pay for a meal out.

"They come down here on a shoestring budget and they expect us to feed them and we will," said Lou, 28, who would not give his last name. Working for Food Not Bombs, a group that started in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was dishing out a medley of vegetables and potatoes to anyone asking during a rally across from the World Bank on Thursday afternoon.

The support network extends to medical services. Trained medics roam the crowds with bandages and water ready to flush tear gas out of eyes. A group called the Pagan Cluster offers massages to help people unwind.

Activists teeter between practicality and correctness. They need to be properly outfitted for a long day on the streets but also want to avoid using brands, companies and products that allegedly exploit workers or are otherwise out of step with their campaigns.

David Levy of Virginia, a 44-year-old organizer with Mobilization for Global Justice, carries a Palm Pilot ( news - web sites) and a cell phone and jokes that he packs deodorant for media interviews.

Robin Tala, 18, who drove from Bloomington, Indiana, doesn't have a cell phone but concedes they have their place in a crowd of demonstrators. "Although I'm sort of against them, they can be very helpful," he said.

Between the protests, the hours don't go wasted. A couple from Sarasota, Florida, planned to go sightseeing in their downtime, while others had scheduled meetings with their members of Congress.

Many were just hanging out with like-minded people while others found a challenge in sizing up the striking diversity of the crowd.

"Some of our church people are not going to be comfortable with the green-haired vegans," said Mara Vanderslice of Washington-based Jubilee USA, a mainly religious consortium of groups that advocates debt cancelation for poor countries. "There's some differences."

Ramsey Outlines His Expectations for Protests

Thu Sep 26,10:58 PM ET

DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey says his 3,600 officers are working 12 hour shifts as they prepare for a busy few days.

He says perhaps 2,000 people will take part in potentially criminal activities tomorrow. Ramsey also says that could discourage law abiding citizens from taking part in Friday's demonstrations.

Law enforcement agencies have activated their joint operations center downtown to coordinate their public safety response. The chief says people arrested for breaking District or federal laws will be prosecuted and that could keep them off the streets for quite some time.

About two dozen law enforcement agencies from other jurisdictions are taking part in the security effort.

Getting around the District Friday could be a challenge. DC Police say that between commuters and demonstrators, traffic congestion will be worse than usual. Ramsey says taking Metro will be easier than driving in the city.

© Copyright 2002 WJLA-TV

Metro Prepared for Protests

Thu Sep 26,10:58 PM ET

Metro says it's ready for the protests expected for the next three days.

Bicycles are banned from the subway Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as are large coolers. Transit police and other Metro workers will be wearing bright vests, so riders can easily find them in case of trouble. There will also be undercover officers in trains and stations, and Metro is setting up a special operations command center to keep an eye on things.

Still, riders are being warned to watch for any unusual or suspicious behavior, and report it by dialing 911 or using the emergency call boxes.

Transit Police Chief Polly Hansen has said that they've never had problems with demonstrators in the past, and don't anticipate that will change.

© Copyright 2002 WJLA-TV


World: IMF, World Bank Hold Annual Fall Meetings

By Andrew F. Tully

The two top international financial institutions say their agenda is focused on making the poor nations of the world more prosperous. Members of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are meeting in Washington this weekend to map out strategy.

Washington, 27 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The World Bank and the IMF annual autumn meetings in Washington this weekend come against a backdrop of an economic crisis in South America and a halting recovery from economic recession elsewhere in the world.

The IMF's managing director, Horst Koehler, on 26 September acknowledged these problems at a news conference to introduce the meetings, but he said it would be wrong to take a pessimistic view of the world economy. He said he expects it will rebound with the help of the U.S. economy.

And James Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank, said at a separate news conference that he believes that at this autumn's meetings of representatives from 183 member states, the two financial institutions will be able to take major steps in fighting poverty worldwide.

Wolfensohn said that previous world economic summits in recent years have focused on discussions about including developing countries in decision-making and encouraging them to enact judicial and legal reform. With this planning stage complete, he said, it is now time to realize these ideas.

"The important thing now is to perform. And my hope is that at this meeting we can move into a new phase in which all the attention is given to action and how we get things done. And that is not just action on the part of developing countries, but it's also action on the part of the rich countries," Wolfensohn said.

In short, the World Bank president said, it is time, as he put it, to "move from theory to practice."

Both the World Bank and the IMF have come under criticism in recent years from virtually all sides. Some say they waste the resources of wealthier countries by spending them on needier nations whose governments are incapable or, in some cases, unwilling to spend the money wisely.

Others say the two institutions hurt poor countries by authorizing loans only if their governments impose harsh economies that deprive their people of needed services like medical care and food.

As they have many times in the past, Wolfensohn and Koehler addressed these criticisms, and stressed that both institutions have undergone drastic reforms that lead to more efficient programs to reduce poverty and strengthen currency values.

Again, the World Bank-IMF meetings will be the target of protests. About 20,000 demonstrators have arrived in Washington over the past few days. The organizers of most of the protests say they will be peaceful. But some have promised to disrupt workday traffic.

Local police have set aside 3,200 officers -- including 1,700 reinforcements from other areas -- to help keep the peace. They also have closed off the immediate neighborhood around the World Bank and IMF headquarters to all but those with credentials authorizing them to enter.

The protesters' agendas range from globalization to the Israel-Palestinian conflict to U.S. President George W. Bush's policy on Iraq. But their chief complaint about the World Bank and the IMF is that the two institutions promote globalization. They say this allows wealthy multinational corporations to exploit workers in poor countries.

Koehler said he shares this concern because the economic benefits of such globalization are not always enjoyed by these workers. But the IMF's managing director added that it would be wrong to abandon globalization altogether; rather, he said it should be improved.

For his part, Wolfensohn said there are two kinds of globalization, and that the World Bank and the IMF recognize only one of them: "Not the narrow definition of multinational corporations, but globalization in the sense that everything joins us, whether it's trade or finance or crime or drugs or migration or health."

Some protesters' objections go beyond globalization to capitalism itself. One such critic is Shrayas Jatkar, an organizer for the protest group known as "Fifty Years Is Enough," a reference to the half century since the World Bank and the IMF were created.

Jatkar told RFE/RL that capitalism is in itself an unfair system. He said it is bad enough that the World Bank and the IMF meet privately to decide the economic fate of a needy country. Even if the two institutions operated openly, he said, the system they employ -- world capitalism -- still leaves too many people with too little.

"The worst part about it, perhaps, is the differences that it causes, the fact that, you know, some people are extremely well off while others are extremely destitute," Jatkar said.

Because finance ministers from around the world are in Washington for the World Bank-IMF meetings each autumn, the United States takes the opportunity to be the host of a ministerial meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as Russia.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Alan Greenspan -- the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. central bank -- were expected to lead this year's G-8 meeting on 27 September.