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(en) US, Washington, MEDIA: World Bank/IMF Protests

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Thu, 26 Sep 2002 01:34:08 -0400 (EDT)


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Rebels in search of cause gather for IMF talks; Pose test
for demo movement

WASHINGTON (CP) -- They were smart, they were mobile, they
were television savvy. Then they disappeared.

Seventeen months after demonstrators fought pitched street
battles with police in Quebec, the all-but-vanished
anti-globalization movement is threatening to shut down the
U.S. capital this week.

Friday's kickoff of the annual IMF-World Bank meetings may
provide the first real test of the protesters'
street-strength since the Sept. 11 attacks. 

An anarchist Web site is organizing a so-called "scavenger
hunt" over the weekend. The exercise offers points for
occupying offices along the legal and lobbying corridor on K
Street, smashing a McDonald's restaurant window or
puncturing a police car's tire.

"The targets will be corporations that we feel have been
especially guilty of robbing their workers of their
retirement funds and laying off workers and putting profits
ahead of people's needs," said one protest organizer, who
asked that his name not be used. 

Protesters are predicting that up to 20,000 of their
supporters will be in Washington over the weekend. That
would represent a stunning turnaround in their strength. 

American radicals have found themselves thwarted by
political leaders meeting in ever-more remote areas and by a
post-Sept. 11 climate that has silenced most peaceful
dissent, let alone violent opposition. 

"Because of September 11, because there's a sense that no
one wants some kind of catastrophe, there's been restraint
and a feeling that the focus is going to be on the message,"
said Larry Holmes of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. 

Just what that message is has been confusing. That mystery
hasn't stopped those on the street from influencing those in
the ivory towers. It began unexpectedly. Trade ministers
gathered in Seattle in 1999 expected to start a new round of
global trade talks. They were greeted by thousands of
violent protesters who catapulted the anti-globalization
movement onto front pages.

Anarchists were supposedly behind the smashing and burning,
but the groups were well-enough organized to turn up at
virtually every major international business and political
meeting over the next two years. Few might recall what was
achieved at the Summit of the Americas, held in Quebec City
in April 2001. Everyone remembers images of tear gas
canisters flying across the elegant old city's streets --
teeming with rampaging demonstrators.

Those opposed to the growth of the global economy reached
the high watermark of their strength a few months later when
they laid siege to the Italian city of Genoa. A
quarter-million of them hounded G-8 political leaders
holding their annual meeting there.

Two months later -- on Sept. 11, 2001 to be exact -- their
fury was sapped.

To be fair, the strength of protesters was beginning to slow
before the airliner assaults.

Their quarry began to withdraw to heavily-fortified
retreats, far from the streets they could commandeer.

The last World Trade Organization meeting was held in the
oil statelet of Qatar. The government there handed out very
few visas to any demonstrator willing to make the trip. A
U.S. warship sat in the harbour during the meeting.

After watching the demonstrators run police ragged in Genoa,
Prime Minister Jean Chretien picked a pinpoint on the map --
Kanaskis, Alta. -- as the site of the next G-8 summit.

Washington represents an easier urban target for protesters.
They've also been given a boost by the emergence of a pair
of targets that unifies their disparate elements.

The waves of arrests of CEOs and the resulting tanking of
the stock markets have given some credence to their claims
that America is being run by a corporate kleptocracy.

The threatened war against Iraq is also a rallying point for
America's radical pacifists, who found themselves snuffed
out by national unanimity on the war in Afghanistan.

There is no deep division in the United States on the need
to remove Saddam Hussein, but there is at least a debate,
and that provides protesters with an opening.

"Our biggest message will be to tell those rich folks who
really are the secret government of the world that people
need money for jobs and human needs, not war, and certainly
not to make them any richer," Holmes said.

FOX News

Protesters Return to District for World Bank Meetings

WASHINGTON - Protesters are pledging to shut down the
nation's capital Friday with demonstrations that will
"disrupt traffic and convey a symbolic message" against
capitalism and war. 

The protests are a prelude to even larger demonstrations
planned for the weekend during meetings of the World Bank
and International Monetary Fund. 

The FBI issued a warning this week that computer hackers may
conduct "cyber protests" during the financial meetings. 

"A small group that intends to disrupt the meetings with a
physical attack may use cyber means to enhance the effects
of the physical attack or to complicate the response by
emergency services," the agency said in a statement. 

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, a group that wants to
abolish the global financial institutions, said Wednesday
that they would hold several nonviolent demonstrations
during Friday morning's rush hour. The events include a mass
bike ride to protest the Bush administration's environmental
policies and a march opposing "corporate greed" that will
target the headquarters of various companies. 

The demonstrators said they do not have permits for these
events, which would wind through Washington's downtown
business district. 

Police plan to block off streets in the area around the
financial institutions, located just a few blocks from the
White House, and are bringing in 1,700 officers from
neighboring communities to help local law enforcement. 

On Wednesday, U.S. Park Police officers practiced crowd
control maneuvers, including drills on removing people who
obstruct roads and buildings -- things protesters are
threatening to do Friday. 

Deputy Chief Dwight Pettiford said his officers will be
"kind and gentle" with protesters, but they'll also be very
firm with those who practice disobedience. 

Further disruption could be caused by demonstrator "affinity
groups," small clusters of protesters working independently. 

"They will be staking out strategic and political targets to
disrupt traffic and convey a symbolic message to the city to
draw attention to the issues they think are important," ACC
organizer Andrew Willis said. He said affinity groups will
converge from all over the United States and Canada,
bringing thousands of demonstrators to Washington. 

"The people who are coming here on Sept. 27 do not consider
themselves violent nor do they consider their tactics to be
violent," Willis said. He said the demonstrators want an end
to all debts, including personal debt, and universal access
to food, water and housing. 

Many members of the ACC call themselves "anarchists." Police
have blamed anarchists for much of the violence during past
protests against the global financial institutions. 

In April 2000, Washington police arrested about 1,300 people
during demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank. 

Confrontations last year outside the Group of Eight summit
in Genoa, Italy, caused extensive property damage, hundreds
of arrests and injuries and the death of one Italian
protester who was shot by police.

Last year's IMF and World Bank meeting was canceled after
the Sept. 11 terror attacks, so protesters called off their
plans, with many holding anti-war demonstrations instead. 

Protests in Washington during the April meetings of the IMF
and World Bank were peaceful and focused on issues ranging
from the war against terrorism to U.S. Mideast policy. 

This year, the global financial institutions have scaled
back their annual meeting, from a week to two days, in an
effort to trim soaring security costs. 

Mobilization for Global Justice, which advocates nonviolent
protests and serves as an umbrella organization for a number
of activist groups, is the main organizer of planned
protests to take place outside the World Bank on Saturday.
Protest organizers say they expect thousands to turn out to
demand that the financial institutions open their meetings
to the public, end harmful economic policies and cancel
Third World debt. 

Protesters from around the world plan a series of teach-ins
and workshops leading up to the weekend demonstrations. 

IMF Protesters Vow to Shut Down D.C.

IMF-World Bank Protesters Pledge to Shut Down D.C. With
Demonstrations Against Capitalism, War

The Associated Press

W A S H I N G T O N, Sept. 25 - Protesters are pledging to
shut down the nation's capital Friday with demonstrations
that will "disrupt traffic and convey a symbolic message"
against capitalism and war.

The protests are a prelude to even larger demonstrations
planned for the weekend during meetings of the World Bank
and International Monetary Fund.

The FBI issued a warning this week that computer hackers may
conduct "cyber protests" during the financial meetings.

"A small group that intends to disrupt the meetings with a
physical attack may use cyber means to enhance the effects
of the physical attack or to complicate the response by
emergency services," the agency said in a statement.

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, a group that wants to
abolish the global financial institutions, said Wednesday
that they would hold several nonviolent demonstrations
during Friday morning's rush hour. The events include a mass
bike ride to protest the Bush administration's environmental
policies and a march opposing "corporate greed" that will
target the headquarters of various companies.

The demonstrators said they do not have permits for these
events, which would wind through Washington's downtown
business district.

Police plan to block off streets in the area around the
financial institutions, located just a few blocks from the
White House, and are bringing in 1,700 officers from
neighboring communities to help local law enforcement.

On Wednesday, U.S. Park Police officers practiced crowd
control maneuvers, including drills on removing people who
obstruct roads and buildings things protesters are
threatening to do Friday.

Deputy Chief Dwight Pettiford said his officers will be
"kind and gentle" with protesters, but they'll also be very
firm with those who practice disobedience.

Further disruption could be caused by demonstrator "affinity
groups," small clusters of protesters working independently.

"They will be staking out strategic and political targets to
disrupt traffic and convey a symbolic message to the city to
draw attention to the issues they think are important," ACC
organizer Andrew Willis said. He said affinity groups will
converge from all over the United States and Canada,
bringing thousands of demonstrators to Washington.

"The people who are coming here on Sept. 27 do not consider
themselves violent nor do they consider their tactics to be
violent," Willis said. He said the demonstrators want an end
to all debts, including personal debt, and universal access
to food, water and housing.

Many members of the ACC call themselves "anarchists." Police
have blamed anarchists for much of the violence during past
protests against the global financial institutions.

In April 2000, Washington police arrested about 1,300 people
during demonstrations against the IMF and World Bank.

Confrontations last year outside the Group of Eight summit
in Genoa, Italy, caused extensive property damage, hundreds
of arrests and injuries and the death of one Italian
protester who was shot by police.

Last year's IMF and World Bank meeting was canceled after
the Sept. 11 terror attacks, so protesters called off their
plans, with many holding anti-war demonstrations instead.

Protests in Washington during the April meetings of the IMF
and World Bank were peaceful and focused on issues ranging
from the war against terrorism to U.S. Mideast policy.

This year, the global financial institutions have scaled
back their annual meeting, from a week to two days, in an
effort to trim soaring security costs.

Mobilization for Global Justice, which advocates nonviolent
protests and serves as an umbrella organization for a number
of activist groups, is the main organizer of planned
protests to take place outside the World Bank on Saturday.
Protest organizers say they expect thousands to turn out to
demand that the financial institutions open their meetings
to the public, end harmful economic policies and cancel
Third World debt.

Protesters from around the world plan a series of teach-ins
and workshops leading up to the weekend demonstrations.

On the Net:

Mobilization for Global Justice:
http://www.globalizethis.org

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

New Zealand Herald

September 26

Anti-capitalists plan to 'annoy' during Washington meeting 

26.09.2002 9.20 am 

WASHINGTON - Anti-capitalist activists planning a day-long
traffic blockade during this week's IMF and World Bank
meetings in Washington said on Wednesday they believed their
tactics were annoying but necessary. 

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence unveiled plans to ride
bicycles around the city, block major intersections and
gather in parks on Friday to disrupt "business as usual" in
the United States capital. 

"When people are annoyed by this they have to know it's just
a drop of spit in the ocean, compared to the annoying things
the capitalist system creates in the world every day,"
organiser Andrew Willis told Reuters. 

Willis said several thousand activists would join the
demonstration against what he called the collusion of the US
government and big business. 

They would work in groups of three to 10 people who design
their own forms of protest, he said. Although the ACC has
endorsed the idea of nonviolent protests, organisers said
they could not control the activities of individual groups. 

"We support whatever tactics they feel comfortable with to
portray their message," Willis said. 

Anti-capitalist groups came under fire last week for a
website advertising an "anarchist scavenger hunt," offering
points for breaking windows, puncturing police car tires and
throwing a pie in the face of a corporate executive. 

ACC organisers said they did not endorse the website. 

"We are not condoning property destruction and not endorsing
it either," said Mike, an ACC member who declined to give
his last name. "Peoples' personal definition of violence
varies. A common view (of ACC members) is there is a
difference between violence against people and damage to
property." 

Washington police have warned local residents and are urging
them to use public transport on Friday. Police spokesman Joe
Gentile has said police would use whatever means necessary
to disperse traffic blockades, which he said could block
emergency vehicles like ambulances. 

- REUTERS 

Demonstrators seek to quarantine IMF

WASHINGTON, Sep 23, 2002 (United Press International via
COMTEX) -- Vocal critics of International Monetary Fund and
World Bank policy -- so-called anti-globalization activists
-- said Monday that thousands of protestors are expected to
rally against these two multilateral institutions at the
large upcoming joint annual meetings this weekend in
Washington. 

A key issue for demonstrators is the large debt that many
Third World countries owe the IMF and World Bank, with
payments on this debt -- from earlier loans -- hindering
spending on local economic development. 

At a news conference Monday, activists said weeklong
demonstrations and teaching sessions were meant to highlight
what they consider the "catastrophic impact of debt,
environmental abuse, reckless lending, and profit-driven
economic policies imposed by these Washington-based
institutions." Activists were also calling for the IMF/World
Bank to open their meetings to outside "civil society" and
advocacy groups. 

The World Bank did not return calls seeking comment on the
activists' criticism. 

Key agenda items for the IMF/World Bank meetings include
world financial stability, debt relief, environmental issues
and HIV prevention. 

The central protest "theme" for activists groups at this
September's demonstrations is "quarantine" of the IMF/World
Bank, with protest groups attempting to non-violently block
access to the IMF/World Bank buildings, said Martin Thomas,
a spokesman for the Mobilization for Global Justice group,
at Monday's news conference. 

D.C. Metropolitan Police have issued early warnings that
commuter traffic may encounter problems Thursday and Friday
if IMF/World Bank demonstrators block commuter routes and
bridges. 

Organizers from the Mobilization for Global Justice -- an
umbrella-group for the varied groups of activists --
disavowed Monday the use of violent actions as has been the
case with some splinter activist groups in past. They added,
however, that a large protest turnout was expected for the
IMF/World Bank weekend meeting Saturday and Sunday. 

"We have laid out our action guidelines, which include a
guideline for non-violence," said Thomas. 

Organizers said that international activists from the
countries most affected by the IMF and World Bank --
including Asian, African and Latin American countries -- are
among those coming to Washington to show the widespread
opposition the institutions' role in Africa, Asia, Latin
America and the Caribbean. 

At IMF/World Bank protests earlier this year, Metropolitan
Police fielded a large presence, in part based on the
previous experience of authorities in April 2000, when
anti-IMF/World Bank protesters -- prompted by various
anarchist groups -- held pitched battles with law
enforcement. 

Recent anti-globalization demonstrations, however, have been
characterized more by street theater than riot. 

The most recent demonstration in Washington last spring was
a scene of thousands of colorfully attired activists banging
drums, blowing horns and carrying large "protest puppets" as
part of their street theatrics to communicate the message of
what activists describe as a "less capitalistic world." 

By T.K. MALOY, UPI Deputy Business Editor 

-- 
Dan Clore


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