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

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Fri, 27 Sep 2002 14:08:09 -0400 (EDT)


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[Some major flak in some of these.--DC]

Small Problems Plague Protesters

By ELIZABETH WOLFE
Associated Press Writer

September 26, 2002, 5:34 PM EDT

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 and World Bank 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. Greyhound has been getting a lot of business. 

Southwest Airlines was the choice for self-proclaimed
Marxist-humanist Tom Rainey from Berkeley, Calif., 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, Mass., 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 and a
cell phone and jokes that he packs deodorant for media
interviews. 

Robin Tala, 18, who drove from Bloomington, Ind., 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, Fla., 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." 

On the Net: 

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

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

Jubilee USA Network:
http://www.jubileeusa.org/ 

Protesters pledge to shut down D.C. 
BY DAVID HO / The Associated Press 

WASHINGTON -- Protesters opposed to capitalism and war plan
to disrupt traffic in the nation's capital today in a series
of demonstrations intended to shut down the city. 

Police are preparing for the worst. U.S. Park Police
officers practiced crowd control maneuvers Wednesday,
including drills on removing people who obstruct roads and
buildings -- things protesters are threatening. 

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

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, a group that wants to
abolish those global financial institutions, said Wednesday
it would hold several nonviolent demonstrations early today.
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. 

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. 

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

The FBI also 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 FBI said in a statement. 

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

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.
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. 

Washington Times

EDITORIAL * September 27, 2002

Scavenger hoodlums

This weekend, the adolescent activists protesting against
the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will make
their annual appearance on the streets of Washington. While
many of the protesters are simply clueless college students
anxious to duck the herculean academic demands required for
a degree in English Lit, there is also an ugly, violent
fringe element determined to disrupt society and dedicated
to doing so by any means necessary.

One of the most frightening examples of the latter mentality
is "The Anti-Capitalist Scavenger Hunt," which awards points
for wrecking things - 500 for trashing the inside of a
retail store, 300 for smashing a McDonald's window and 75
for puncturing a police car's tire. 

Judging from the list, the scary scavengers' sense of
morality is as skewed as their sense of logic. Flinging a
pie at a corporate CEO or government official is accorded
the same number of points as putting together an article
about a major corporation (one wonders how many
black-clothed, gas-mask-wearing anarchists will be seen
typing up papers instead of throwing punches at police).
Blocking a street intersection is worth as much as picking
up trash from the street.

Chuck, the anarchist webmaster who posted the scavenger
hunt, said it was only a joke. Perhaps he and his urban
terrorist friends are the only ones who are laughing, since
a click away from his site is the home page of the
Anti-Capitalist Convergence, which complains, "The last two
mass demonstrations in Washington, D.C. have been almost
completely void of direct action" - a phrase referring to
acts ranging from spray-painting billboards to burning down
buildings.

Disrupting traffic, smashing windows and trashing the inside
of stores must not be tolerated. While legitimate, lawful
protests have long occupied an important place in public
discourse, the active participants in the anarchist
scavenger hunt have no place in the conversation or the
nation's capital.

Who's Really Behind The Protest Curtain? 
by David Martosko 
CNSNews.com Commentary 
September 27, 2002

A funny thing happened on the way to the anti-global
protests in Washington, D.C. The self-proclaimed "anarchist"
and "anti-authoritarian" architects of this weekend's
promised mayhem have dressed up their event in enough order
and organization to make a wedding planner blush. And they
had plenty of help.

Of course, we know what to expect from our first big
post-Bin Laden protest event. Hooded, disaffected teenagers
waving signs and banners, wandering angry mobs, gripes about
the "capitalist greed" that keeps our families clothed and
fed, perhaps some creative PR for Iraq, a little tear gas
here and there, maybe a burning flag or two. And shouting.
Lots of shouting.

We've seen this all before. Every time a potpourri of
violent anarchists and militant socialists descend on our
nation's capital, we hold our collective breath and wait for
the storm to pass. No big deal, right? The same strange
mixture of wackos threatens to "shut the city down" every
few years, and hardly anyone (save those who work near the
World Bank) really seems to mind.

We should mind. We should be royally ticked off. Because the
blame this time around lies not just with the usual
hodgepodge of anachronistic socialist groups that draw
supporters from our most impressionable college undergrads.
You've heard their names before: the Mobilization for Global
Justice, the "50 Years Is Enough" network, and the candidly
named Anti-Capitalist Convergence.

Surprise! The list of those aiding and abetting this year's
national disgrace includes a host of "mainstream" activist
groups, straining to publicly assert that their agendas are
actually moderate and sensible. Their chosen strategy is
ensuring that someone else's party line is even more radical
than their own.

We're talking about Greenpeace. And Friends of the Earth.
And the AFL-CIO. And the Communications Workers of America.
And Ralph Nader's "Essential Action" group. All of these are
acknowledged co-sponsors of whatever downtown destruction
your television set brings you this weekend. 

If reports of an "anarchist scavenger hunt" turn out to be
accurate, let's hope we all hold the right people
accountable when the dust settles. Three hundred points to
"whack a CEO in the head?" You can't make this stuff up.

On Friday and Saturday, as we see the mythical "rich -vs-
poor" dramas unfold on CNN, it might be useful to remember
two things. First, that the combined net worth of these
"sponsoring" groups is well over $200 million; they can
afford the best in image-control to make sure their messages
are "spun" just so. Second, behemoth-sized organizations
like Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth don't get involved
with ground-level pavement scrums unless there's something
in it for them.

That "something" is political cover for their social agenda.
No matter how ridiculous Greenpeace activists may sound
advocating Leftist environmental, trade, labor, or energy
policies, they'll always sound slightly less radical if the
anarchist movement has already staked out even more extreme
positions.

The same thing has happened over the past 20 years with
regard to the animal-rights movement: In 1980, vegetarians
were considered the lunatic fringe. Today strict vegans, to
say nothing of violent animal-liberation terrorists, have
made your garden-variety meatless eater seem mainstream by
comparison.

Biotech food provides another good example. When Friends of
the Earth agitates for the costly and unnecessary labeling
of genetically improved foods, or when Greenpeace demands
the total conversion of American agriculture to 1950s-style
organic growing, it ought to make our blood boil.

But we're too busy to notice, because even more disturbing
lunatics - many of them presently in Washington - are
justifying African starvation (in Zambia, for instance,
where offers of biotech food aid have been repeatedly
rebuffed) in the name of "genetic purity" and "food
security."

This is not to say that either Greenpeace or Friends of the
Earth would support feeding biotech grain to starving
Zambians. Make no mistake about it - these groups have
definitely abandoned "save the earth" in favor of "starve
the children." But by getting full-blown socialists to
advocate this position for them, the Greenpeaces of the
world can at least try to keep their hands blood-free.

Greenpeace, for all its multi-million-dollar bluster, still
needs, and uses, the far-out environmental kooks. Similarly,
"mainstream" labor leaders desperately need the
communitarians from the "social justice" movement, with
their misnamed "living wage" crusades that punish
low-skilled job seekers. 

And Ralph Nader, with his off-the-scale nutty brand of
social activism, needs the Anti-Capitalist Convergence.
Without the candid extremists, "mainstream" groups find
themselves even more on the political fringes than they
already are. And that's a difficult position from which to
be taken seriously.

So in order to claim the political center, ordinary activist
groups give their stamp of approval to unrest, disruption,
and risk to life and limb. In doing so, environmental,
labor, and anti-free-trade nonprofits are also tacitly
endorsing this weekend's stated goal: "We are striving
toward the abolition of capitalism!"

Funny - Greenpeace takes in over $23 million each year in
the U.S. alone - take a gander at "ActivistCash.com" for the
proof. Ralph Nader's myriad activist groups are worth at
least $19 million on paper. And globally, Friends of the
Earth moves over $80 million a year. Strange balance sheets
indeed for underwriters of modern socialism.

David Martosko is director of research for The Center for
Consumer Freedom, a coalition supported by restaurant
operators, food and beverage companies and individuals.

-- 
Dan Clore


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