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(en) US, Washington, DC: Activists Confront IMF and World Bank

Date Tue, 25 Apr 2006 10:39:27 +0300

Over the last weekend, activists confronted IMF and World Bank delegates at
their hotels, at their meeting sites, and even at their homes! Demonstrations
were also held at some of the mega-corporations profiting from IMF/WB policies.
Thursday activists disrupted a press conference with a banner
reading "World Bank Finances Corporate Corruption" and chanting,
which was followed by them being removed and their press
credentials being confiscated. Other activists joined in chanting and
were also removed. A press conference outside followed with an
explanation of how the World Bank/IMF fund corrupt multinationals
and exploit the third world. Full story with photos:

On Friday, after this media stunt in front of the IMF, protesters
followed through on their promise to go after offices related to
capitalist institutions working hand-in-hand with the World Bank
and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Activists went to
Halliburton with flyers intending on educating the public and
Halliburton's own employees. More than that, they went to confront
Halliburton directly. Protesters entered Halliburton's offices on 18th
Street between L and M and began shouting chants. Halliburton
employees looked very disturbed inside their 2nd floor offices as the
sound reverberated throughout the building. Flyers about their
connections with the IMF/WB were scattered throughout.

Successful, the protesters went on to Bechtel at 15th and K Street,
across from McPherson Square. Bechtel is much more overt about
its IFC money than is Halliburton. Ask the people of Bolivia about
Bechtel's involvement in that country. A lot of people simply think of
Halliburton and Bechtel as war profiteers, but the fact is they are
simply profiteers who work with governments to produce profits for
the rich in first world countries, sometimes helping to enrich corrupt
puppet rulers in the Global South.

At Bechtel, protesters took elevators up to the 7th floor without
difficulty. The people inside Bechtel's offices were stunned to see
protesters outside their offices. Protesters littered their floor with
flyers explaining the corporate abuses of their corporate employers.
Protesters left the building without facing difficulty.

After Bechtel, our next target was Shell's corporate office at 1401 I st
NW. By this time, things were getting pretty crazy. We saw a large
convoy of cops go by without stopping a block away, and received an
interesting report courtesy of bike messenger dispatch radio. The
report was that a Black Bloc was going "from place to place" trying
to lose the cops!

We decided to continue in action, and proceeded to Shell's office on
I st. In remembrance of the Ogoni activists who were hanged in
Nigeria for protesting sHell's destruction of their land, we entered
the building. We intended to go up to protest in Shell's office itself,
and decided to use a new strategy. We went to the guard desk posing
as people who had business with sHell, but one mention of that
company seemed to raise alarms. She said someone from sHell
would come down to speak with us, but we'd have to wait outside.
Half believing her, we headed out-and then stormed back in! When
the lobby guard said we needed to show ID if we wanted to go up to
sHell's office, we started chanting and banging pots and pans. She
was yelling franticly into the cellphone(as usual) while trying to force
us out. We continued for a few minutes, then exited sHell's building
and escaped into the street. Full report on office demos:

After the Office Demos, a small contingent continued the protest
after stumbling upon the G7 meetings at the St. Regis Hotel. After
reassembling, activists stood on the sidewalk chanting as people
exited their limos. Getting less than 8 feet away from the ministers,
we made our point, loud and clear. After a few minutes of yelling a
motorcycle cop tried to intervene, but without adequate knowledge
of the law, he stepped down. He put up a fight, wouldn't give out his
badge and accused us of breaking laws that don't exist, but in the
end, we prevailed.

To end the day's activities, a significant and spirited group of
protesters converged on World Bank President and Iraq War
architect Paul Wolfowitz's home yet again at 7104 Pinehurst
Parkway in Chevy Chase after 9PM on Friday night. Some came by
bike, some by car for a spirited and raucous protest that ultimately
spilled into Western Ave. after leaving the house. Police tailing the
group blocked many cars from getting through.
There were no arrests, and except for a few isolated incidents, no
trouble from police. Unlike recent encounters, there were no private
security, a sign that Wolfowitz was not home (though his car was in
the driveway). In fact, for the first time in several encounters, his
immediate neighbors seemed to be gone as well. This suggests that
the neighbors are getting keyed in on the protests and are being
affected by them. This is one of the aims of these protests. A mass
murderer lives at 7104 Pinehurst Parkway, and it's our responsibility
to do something about it, to confront any member of our community
who is committing such crimes. In Paul's case, many thousands are
dead, many thousands are displaced due to policies he's directly
responsible for both when he was Deputy Secretary of Defense and
now in his position as World Bank President. Many have no homes
due to World Bank policies, due to Paul Wolfowitz; it's not
illegitimate to stand in solidarity with these people at his home as we
call on this murderer to resign.
For the first time in any of these protests, DC police were there as
well, joining Montgomery County Police.

In and of itself, this protest was not much, but that's deceptive.
When we organized this, we thought he would be at a hotel, but we
knew it was important to go there anyhow. As part of a campaign
that has already lead the neighbors to share rumors about
Wolfowitz's supposed desire to move from the location, it is
significant. Neighbors are reacting. Some in the past bring their
children out to watch. Others get upset. All of them are beginning to
realize that the protests are not going away. It's possible, even likely,
that many will blame the protesters, but all must consider the issue
of whether we are are brother's keeper, that is whether we are
responsibile as a community for the crimes of our own neighbors
and whether we should do something to stop them. That is one
reason we chant, "World Bank shut it down! Paul Wolfowitz out of
our town!"

In a day of action that included office demos that startled workers in
their workplaces and for a moment could not be invisible, a direct
confrontation with G7 delegates, the Wolfowitz action capped off a
productive day. People in the protests felt empowered, and that's the
most important thing of all. That empowerment will only energize
more actions.

Some may think the action was meaningless because he wasn't
home, but these demonstrations this week are merely part of an
ongoing campaign, a tactical and strategic shift, away from the mass
mobilization and toward sustained direct action that personalizes the
crimes of systemic institutions. People commit these crimes; the
World Bank is people.

We are all responsible, and we must all be touched by it.

A Video of the protest at Wolfowitz's house:

Saturday, activists took to the streets and into the lobbies of hotels
housing World Bank delegates, in one case storming into the lobby
of the St. Gregory Hotel. Activists directly confronted delegates at a
party at the Fairmont Hotel.

Full Saturday Action report:

Sunday morning, a planned IMF Soccer Riot targeted the Fairmont
Hotel with activists showing up around 3 AM and converging at the
24th and M Street location at about 3:30 AM.

Activists blocked off both ends of the block on 24th Street in front of
the hotel and played soccer in the streets for more than 10 minutes
before police finally arrived and then at first did little to stop
anything. There were also a large number of air horns and chants
and some very angry and aggressive security at the Fairmont. People
woke up and looked outside their windows. It was extremely loud.

There was 1 known arrest for an activist who was holding a broom,
and the police arrested him for not wanting to give up that broom.

Police did everything from shoving activists and throwing them to
the ground without provocation to simple things like refusing to give
badge numbers repeatedly to forcing activists standing around doing
nothing to move at random for no reason.

The action outside the Fairmont continued nonstop with energy
until after 7AM. This gave activists a chance to confront very tired
delegates directly entering their vans.

Another very small group broke off after most had dispersed and
went to the Washington Marriott. There they stopped a delegate van
from leaving for over 10 minutes as they screamed at delegates who
were clearly disturbed by their inability to get to the meetings. The
bus was wedged in to a parking spot sticking into the road.

After facing near arrest there, those activists left for another hotel to
find another small group facing police harrassment being followed by
motorcycle police who were within inches of them trying to force
them along a sidewalk. The original set of activists at the Marriott
returned to the Marriott and confronted other car and bus loads of
activists, often getting right into the door and screaming at the
delegates who were feet and if outside inches away.

Next, they went to the Lombardy, another scene of action from
Saturday night, and screamed some more at the hotel before heading
toward the new IMF building at 19th and Pennsylvania. There,
hundreds of delegates waited in line to go through security. This
group descended on their line and were standing right next to them
and yelled things like, "Murderers not welcome here!" Police quickly
acted to move the delegates inside their barriers, rushing about half
of them to another security checkpoint. Activists continued
screaming at hundreds of IMF delegates for the next 20-30 minutes,
mere feet away.

Full Sunday report:

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