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(en) Canada, Ottava, MEDIA: G-20, update on the protests - Police fire tear gas at protesters

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 17 Nov 2001 15:32:38 -0500 (EST)


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 OTTAWA -- Police used tear gas, water cannon, pepper spray and bean bags to
 push back protesters at the site of international financial meetings
 Saturday afternoon.

 At least one canister of tear gas was fired by police when protesters tried
 to breach barricades protecting the meeting site just east of Parliament
 Hill.

 The crowd scattered momentarily but regrouped as wind carried most of the
 tear gas away.

 The police action came after some protesters who had breached the first
 barricades tried to toss one over the second line of barricades near the
 meeting site.

 Police also used water cannon and pepper spray as the crowd marched for a
 second time Saturday to the site of the G-20, IMF and world Bank meetings.

 About a dozen protesters, bandannas covering their faces, pushed down part
 of the first line of barricades and jumped on them, waving red flags and
 beckoning the rest to follow. The crowd moved slowly up behind them as
 police on rooftops watched and officers on the ground videotaped the action.

 The crowd chanted : "Whose streets? Our streets!"

 Half a dozen protesters sat on the ground where they had scrawled in
 coloured chalk: This is a non-violent protest; drop your weapons.

 One protester's head was bleeding from what he said was some kind of stun
 device.

 Another had climbed a pole from which he was urging fellow demonstrators not
 to throw anything.

 In an earlier confrontation, armed officers pushed their way into the crowd
 and pulled out several protesters dressed in black as up to 2,000 marchers
 from two sides converged on the site.

 At least one demonstrator was bitten by a police dog and another was hit in
 the head with a baton. About a dozen were arrested.

 Police appeared to be targeting anarchists, who smashed some windows and
 vandalized property downtown Friday.

 Marchers shouted their opposition but remained peaceful and continued on to
 Parliament Hill where they gathered in front of metal barricades chanting,
 "Shut it down," as police looked on.

 One group of demonstrators set an American flag on fire as others cheered.

 Most then headed for the front of the nearby Supreme Court building where
 organizers had set up a base.

 The second confrontation came after the demonstrators again marched up
 Wellington Street past the Parliament buildings and tried to get past
 barricades at the meeting site.

 One protester carried an American flag -- about three-by-five feet -- with
 corporate logos in place of the stars. They included Coca Cola, Shell,
 McDonald's, NBC, ABC, CBS, Warner Brothers, Intel and IBM.

 Police estimates of the numbers of protesters ranged from 1,000 to well over
 2,000.

 Many accused the police of brutality during the earlier peaceful protest.

 "The police moved very quickly, very swiftly, viciously with their dogs,"
 said Paul Smith of Global Democracy Ottawa.

 "They took people down in the street; they held people off with riot sticks
 and they threatened them with guns. I don't know whether they were plastic
 bullets, but basically it was an unprovoked attack."

 Protester Jamie Kneen added: 'They are trying to provoke a confrontation."

 He said one organizer was arrested for urging police not to haul away
 demonstrators.

 The protesters, including students, labour activists, church groups and
 others, have a range of concerns. Many complain the meetings of the G-20,
 International Monetary Fund and World Bank are no help to world's poor.

 "We're against the IMF; we're trying to get support to stop it," said Ben,
 21, a first-time protester from Worcester, Mass., who would not give his
 last name.

 "If you get thousands of people marching it just undermines their
 legitimacy."

 Finance Minister Paul Martin said earlier Saturday that he shares many of
 the activists' concerns.

 Following a breakfast meeting with non-governmental groups from around the
 globe, Martin said he has "a commonality of views" with activists from
 Canada, Africa and Latin America.

 Among agreements reached later Saturday morning, G-20 finance ministers and
 central bank governors was one to ensure that the benefits of globalization
 are widely shared, Martin said.

 The G-20 represents a mix of big and small countries that together make up
 88 per cent of the world's economic output and includes 60 per cent of the
 world's poor.

 Members range from Canada, the U.S. and Britain to Saudi Arabia, China,
 Brazil.

For pictures:
http://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSTopNews/pol_nov17-cp.html

By LISA SCHMIDT-- Canadian Press




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