gather at IMF and World Bank Protest in DC
Upside Down World News
A riot of tire fires, human road blockades and protests flooded the streets
of Washington DC last weekend in an effort to stop the IMF and World Bank
meetings. The first massive arrest took place Friday morning in Freedom Plaza
where police blocked off the whole park, charged in and handcuffed over 650
protesters, news reporters and one homeless man.
Included in the arrest
were four Bard students; one student commented on the experience, "The
treatment by the cops did vary but some people were beaten up pretty badly,
and the handcuffs really hurt. They arrested us without warning, and without
stating the charges, then we were forced to sit on a bus for ten hours before
being brought to this holding facility."
Extensive police presence
marked this peaceful demonstration as cops were brought in for backup from
Virginia, New Jersey and Chicago. In an effort to stop trouble before it began,
these preemptive arrests resulted in three hospitalized protesters. Two people
with chest pains and a girl who was hit in the face with a police baton were
sent to the George Washington University Hospital on Friday.
The next day about 10,
000 other protesters showed up at the rally that began at the Washington Monument.
At this rally people were waving banners and signs, chanting and dancing while
political leaders including Ralph Nader from the Green Party and Bolivian
Activist Oscar Olivera gave speeches. A number of issues were raised, the
most prevalent being the global problems with the IMF and World Bank.
The speakers discussed
the ways in which the IMF and World Bank continue to cripple countries with
debt and force them into manipulative economic policies. These policies are
more focused on opening up these nations markets to foreign investments and
exploitation than actually helping their economies. Such programs promote
sweatshops, public employee layoffs and environmentally devastating dam and
power plant projects. They are a shift of power from the hands of the country's
own governments to the hands of the foreign, globalizing, capitalist machine.
Demba Dembele, from the
Forum For African Alternatives of Senegal, commented on his presence at the
demonstration, "The reason we are here is because we are living under
a central command economy that has made our nation the poorest nation in Africa,
and that economy is being controlled at 1818 H street in Washington."
When the speeches were
over, the march began with people waving signs like "Stop the IMF",
"Drop the Debt" and chanting things such as "More World, Less
Bank." The march went to Farragut Square, near the IMF and World Bank
buildings. Throughout this march police lined the streets for blocks and did
not permit any of the protesters, or bystanders to enter the sidewalk; it
was a river of colorful signs and banners, drumming and chanting, surrounded
by a wall of cops in riot gear. This created an almost caged-in or fish bowl
effect as the non-marchers watched from a distance through this barricade
I asked one of the policemen
why there were so many cops there. He replied, "I am just doing as I
am instructed." Later I asked the same question to a different cop, and
he told me to keep moving and "do as I was instructed." I looked
on to the citizens of the city who were also doing as they were instructed
by not walking on their own streets or interacting with the protesters.
Later, when the march
congregated at Farragut Square, the police closed in even more. The gap between
the protesters and the non-protesters was a street wide. People milled about
as more speeches and chants took place in the park, while protesters waved
signs, burned flags and played drums.
Bard student, Kristin
Macleod-Ball, commented on the effectiveness of the protest with such a high
number of police present, "Washington DC is turning into a bad place
for these protests, the cops know how to deal with a march here. There needs
to be other creative actions going on at the same time as the march, so that
people are forced to notice."
After the rally in Farragut
Square, human road blockades were then organized at various intersections
and roads, to stop the IMF delegates at the meetings from leaving. In one
conflict with a wall of police, a group of about twenty of us were beaten
up, dragged and thrown on the ground. Pepper spray was used briefly, but we
then ran around the block, behind the wall of cops to where an even bigger
blockade was going on. The collective group of about fifty of us blocked off
the whole intersection that prevented the delegates from leaving. The number
of cops multiplied quickly and one told us bluntly that if we did not get
up at that point we would be dragged off and arrested. No one moved. The police
then forced us apart, shoved the police batons under our arms and dragged
us over the pavement. Then they piled us onto the curb, threatened to beat
us up if we moved, and stood guard us as a few cars of delegates drove past.
These road blockades reformed and went on into late evening.
The next day, Sunday,
was made up of anti-war protests, and a march past a number of embassies,
government buildings and eventually Dick Cheney's house. On the protest around
Cheney's house, Indymedia.com reported, "Some protesters were in the
back of the rally at Cheney's VP Residence, going into the woody area. Police
chasing protesters into the woody area. People coming back out of woody area."
But...the people will
continue to go back into that proverbial woody area again, and again. And
maybe one day Cheney will come out with them and instead of going to war,
will, if there is enough snow, go sledding.