Over 600 Arrested

D.C.: Thousands Protest the Crimes of the IMF

by Bill Swain

Revolutionary Worker #1169, October 6, 2002, posted at http://rwor.org

Washington, D.C., September 27-28--Thousands of youth and others came into the U.S. capital to protest the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for their criminal policies that force exploitation and starvation on the people throughout the world. The IMF and the World Bank held annual meetings this weekend in D.C.

In the early morning of Friday, September 27, youth gathered in a city park. There were lots of signs and lots of noise--the sights and sounds of protest and resistance. People were determined to get across the message that all the horrible policies of the IMF and World Bank have got to be opposed. And they were determined to do it in the face of the repressive police-state measures of the U.S. government. The authorities had mobilized 1,500 D.C. police and 1,700 police from other cities around the country in preparation for the IMF/World Bank meetings and the protests.

From the park, the march took to the streets. At the lead was a banner that said, "Globalization is Not Liberation!" Lots of black flags were flying. One sign read, "No More Capitalist Wars!" There were chants of "Whose streets? Our streets!" As we marched--with motorcycle cops riding up front and on the side--everyone was in high spirits.

At the same time as this action in downtown, about 60 youth on bikes from Critical Mass were riding through the streets. And there were other actions, including people lying down in the middle of a busy main street. So the day began with determined actions aimed at shutting down business as usual in Washington.

As the main march of over 500 took the streets, the police began cutting us off and penning us in. At the corner of Vermont and K Streets, hundreds of police surrounded us. A window at a Citibank branch was broken, and the police moved in. They corralled people and penned them in in front of the bank, pushing 150 to 200 youth against a window. The glass was flexing almost to the breaking point, and there was a danger that many people would be forced into the broken glass.

As the police kept pushing, the youth locked arms. Hundreds of people yelled, "The whole world is watching!" and "Break out! Break out!" The police began clubbing the youth, breaking up the human chain and arresting people. About 100 were arrested at the Citibank.

In late morning people went to Freedom Plaza and Pershing Park (just across the street from Freedom Plaza) to hold a die-in. The police completely surrounded the park, two or three deep. People played drums, danced, and sang. Then the police moved in and arrested almost everyone, including reporters, legal observers, and bystanders. And then the police moved against the people at Freedom Plaza. The police did not tell anyone to disperse--the cops just grabbed people and arrested them. At least 300 were arrested at Pershing Park and Freedom Plaza.

Even after all these arrests and attacks by the police, the youth continued protesting. There was a demonstration in front of a big Gap store. Signs read "Stop Gap's Sweatshops"--calling out Gap's use of sweatshops in poor Third World countries. The demonstrators also denounced the Gap for owning a logging company that is clear-cutting trees in the California redwood forests. That evening, there was a forum with speakers from Africa, East Timor and Bolivia exposing the devastating effects of the IMF/World Bank policies and capitalist globalization on the lives of the people.

The youth were outraged about the way the police clamped down on the protest. People said this showed how much Amerikkka is indeed a police state. From most estimates, 640 people were arrested on Friday. The arrested youth were forced to sit in the police buses for 5 or 6 hours, without water or food. According to some estimates, about 60% of those arrested refused to give their names to the police. Those who gave police their names were told that the information would be sent to the FBI. The authorities openly said they arrested the protesters in a preemptive fashion--not for what they had actually done but to prevent what they might do.

Throughout the day, I heard denunciations of the IMF/World Bank policies, capitalist globalization, and the war the U.S. is preparing against Iraq--in the songs that were sung, on the signs that people carried, in the conversations on the street. There was a sense among the youth of a growing movement here, in unity with people around the world, to resist and demand global justice. Many leaflets for the October 6 Not in Our Name event in New York City were passed out, and many people said they were planning to come.

On Saturday, September 28, thousands rallied and marched to the IMF headquarters.

One youth told the RW , "What's brought us here? The escalating shit against Iraq by the U.S. government and globalization in general. What the IMF and the World Bank has done--all this has brought us here... We, the protesters, are the heroes. And they, the U.S. government, are the terrorists. The movement will grow, and people will more and more see what the U.S. is doing in Iraq is wrong and what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan is wrong. What's happening across the globe is wrong, and it is because of the U.S."

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