Taking the Streets Against WEF

Revolutionary Worker #1138, February 10, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org

On February 2 over 15,000 people marched in the streets of New York City to resist capitalist globalization, expose the crimes of the U.S. and other imperialists, and send a clear message that another world is possible. While representatives of the world's biggest corporations and most powerful countries met at the World Economic Forum at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, youth took to the streets and let people around the world know there is a new generation rising up determined to fight for a different future.

For weeks the authorities and the media had tried to criminalize the protesters and threatened massive police attacks. In the face of intimidation, youth from New York, all over the U.S., and other countries came together for a festive, creative and determined protest. Immigrants from South Asia, the Philippines, Central and South America, and Palestine, as well as older activists, also marched.

In response to a call by "Reclaim The Streets," 1,000 people gathered in Central Park. They danced to the rhythm of a 30-piece samba band and then joined up with the main demonstration organized by the Another World Is Possible coalition (AWIP)--made up of many groups and individuals with varied political views.

Youth climbed atop statues and held signs against global capitalism: "Save People, Not Money!" and "Put the World's People First." Huge puppets represented sweatshop workers exploited by the WEF. Groups of anarchists in the Black Bloc wore face masks and carried plastic shields painted with flowers to defend against police attack. The Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade marched with a huge red flag and chanted: "Another World Is Possible--Another World Is Needed."

There were various expressions of protest against the U.S. war in Afghanistan and other parts of the world and repression here in this country. A huge photograph of U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's face, with the words "3,000 Afghani Civilian Deaths," floated above the crowd. Filipinos held banners that read: "Down With U.S. Imperialism--Stop U.S. Intervention in the Philippines" and chanted: "Bin Laden, Marcos, Pinochet--All Created by the CIA!" A group of South Asians led a chant: "INS, FBI--No More Detentions, No More Lies." People picked up a chant by a group of Filipinos and Palestinians: "From Afghanistan to the Philippines, Fight the U.S. War Machine. From Palestine to the Philippines, Fight the U.S. War Machine."

As people began marching, riot police suddenly charged the Black Bloc, singling out youth with masks and shields for beating and arrest. Dozens in the crowd were pepper sprayed. People linked arms, formed a line against the police and declared: "The world needs us in the streets! We won't back down, we won't retreat!" The police attempted to separate this section of radical youth from the rest of the march. After a tense stand-off the police finally opened their lines, and a wild cheer went up as hundreds of youth made it into the street.

The mood was spirited and defiant. Through many creative ways, protesters denounced capitalist globalization. People kept time (and kept warm) by marching to the beat of drums and banging on pots and pans in solidarity with the people of Argentina. Signs said "WEF--They Are All Enron! We Are All Argentina!" and "Our World Is Not For Sale." Most protesters wore bright orange stickers from Refuse & Resist!: "Another world is possible. We will not be intimidated." Other stickers said: "We are all Palestinians."

Musician Billy Bragg performed along the march route. Leaflets called on people to support revolutionary political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. The Oct. 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality got a great response when they distributed a call for a National Day of Solidarity with Arabs, Muslims and South Asian Immigrants on February 20.

The police repeatedly tried to split the march and attacked at different points to single out youth in masks for arrest. Some got arrested--and some got away.

Several thousand people took part in another protest near the Waldorf called by the International ANSWER Coalition. Demonstrators at that protest joined the AWIP demonstration which ended up a block away from the Waldorf Astoria.

As the sun set and the march permit expired, police helicopters hovered overhead. More than a thousand cops in riot gear lined the streets near the Waldorf Astoria. Hundreds of youth refused to leave. They drummed, sang and chanted. A loud cheer went up as someone climbed a light pole and planted a flag with the words "Revolution--No WEF." As police massed in greater numbers, youth chanted: "This is what democracy looks like, that's what a police state looks like!"

The Saturday demonstration was part of five days of diverse protests against the WEF. (Watch for further coverage next week in the RW.) The media praised the police for "maintaining order" and blatantly lied about the number of protesters--claiming there were only a few thousand. But those who were out on the streets of New York know the truth. Once again a new generation of youth stood up to the crimes of this system, determined to fight for a better world.

A member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade said: "They tell us that it's inappropriate to protest after 9-11. They tell us that people should stay home and get out of the streets. But we say the crimes of imperialism are greater now than ever before. We're not going to censor ourselves in the interests of global imperialist plunder. We're not going to allow these motherfuckers to be up there in their meetings scheming how they're going to advance off the backs of the people of the world with this global plunder and this war and all the rest. We're going to march."

Jaggi Singh, a member of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence in Montreal, said: "We're seeing a tremendous amount of dissent being expressed, saying we're not going to have war and we're not going to have exploitation and repression raised in our name. That's a very powerful call from the belly of the beast.... It's really empowering to know that in New York, months after this terrorist attack occurred, people are ready to take to the streets in the face of a tremendous amount of police repression, fear-mongering and equating protest and dissent with terrorism. That's very powerful. In other parts of the world you have hundreds of thousands of people who are willing to take to the streets. In Argentina there was rebellion. We're not there yet--but this is a start!"

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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