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Protests of IMF/World Bank and US Militarism

On April 12, at least 20,000 protested the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The protest was peaceful except for what seems to have been targeting by police of anti-capitalists. On April 13, about 1,000 protested the policies of the IMF, World Bank, and multinational corporations.
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On April 12, at least 20,000 protested the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The protest, organized by International ANSWER was peaceful, except for what seems to have been targeting by police of anti-capitalists. On April 13, 1,000 protested the policies of the IMF, World Bank, and multinational corporations which they serve using the media of a "Tour of Shame." The main organizers here were the Latin American Solidarity Coalition and the Mobilization for Global Justice.

Thinking back to April 16/17, 2000, it is easy to be struck by changed times, times changed by September 11 and the US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Three years ago there was more than 20,000 protesting the IMF and World Bank on April 16, with possibly 8,000 on the blockades surrounding these neoliberal institutions; April 17 there was 5,000 marching in the cold, pouring rain. More than 1,200 were arrested at these IMF/World Bank protests. There was a growing sense that "another world is possible." And that sense does exist elsewhere in the world, especially in Latin America where progressive governments exist in Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela and the people of Argentina remain in rebellion against neoliberalism and authoritarian, corrupt regimes. But in the United States, recent polls indicate that 42% believe that Iraq was involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks, a belief for which there is no evidence. While the Latin America Solidarity Coalition announced a "Massive March to IMF/World Bank on April 13", less than the 1,200 arrested in 2000 protested.


Led by the colorful Mobilization for Global Justice banner and puppets, including one in black suit, white shirt, red tie with head of skull and cross-bones and dollar-signs, torso with McDonalds, Global Crossing, Halliburton, McDonald-Douglass, Texaco, Brechtel, The Tour of Shame left Malcolm X Park after the rally organized by the Latin American Solidarity Conference.

The march, about one block long, headed south on 16th Street. The anti-capitalist "bloc", with banners stating "Occupation is Not Liberation. Not Here, Not Anywhere," "Red & Anarchist Action Network," "Anti-Capitalist Solidarity. Viva La EZLN" marched closely towards the end with the "escort" of DC Metro Police riding on bicycles and motorcycles. SUSTAIN, with its mural-like banner depicting a scene in the Israeli Occupied Territories with helicopters descending upon Palestinians, like the famous scene from "Apocalypse Now," followed the anti-capitalist "bloc."

Travelling east on U Street, the Tour of Shame stopped at 14th Street where chants, speeches, and political rap criticized the corporate practices of McDonalds and Taco Bell. The chants reverberated "Bombs are dropping while you are shopping." Representatives of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers spoke about the working conditions of farmworkers contracted by Taco Bell and called for its boycott ( ).

Indymedia spoke to 72 year-old Mary-Alice Martinez. Martinez asked "You know the red flag and black flag symbolize Latin American solidarity?" She was part of a broad-based peace action group twenty-two of whom travelled from Milwaukee to attend both the anti-war and anti-IMF protests. Enthusiastically, Martinez said "It's important to realize that we're having fun, feeling the joy that comes from exercising our freedom of speech. That we can speech freely means that it is very important for Americans to stand up and speak against oppression around the world." Active since the Vietnam War, when she was a draft counselor, Martinez was concerned that, given the militarism of the Bush administration, the draft would be restored.

We also spoke to Michaela Welsh, a sociology and religious studies student at Colorado State University active with the Fort Collins Action Collective, and Chris Myers, active with Teluride. Welsh and Myers travelled all the way from the Denver-Fort Collins area in Colorado. Welsh shared sentiments about free speech similar to Martinez when he said "I love this country despite the changes we're seeing with the Bush administration. It's our country, it's our flag. That's why we're here still speaking up."

The Tour then travelled to the Inter-American Development Bank, part of the International Monetary Fund. Speakers pointed out that the IADB is no different than the World Bank--both "continue to impoverish the people of Latin America." A woman from El Salvador talked about three dam projects funded by the IADB in her country and their effects on communities and water supply.

Surrounded by the banners of the anti-capitalist "bloc," a masked individual in overhauls climbed a traffic poll across from the Bank and taped up a black flag as people chanted "More World. Less Bank!" Near he front doors of the Bank, the Radical Cheerleaders, students from American University dressed in red shirts and black skirts, brought subversive moments of joy with the cheer:

World Bank, IMF
leading cause of Third World debt
oversees no democracy.
We'll fight the power, we'll fight it!
Giant corporations think
that they can lull the masses.
But in good time nonviolently
we'll kick their fucking asses.
Sound off, have no fear.
Sound off, revolution is here!

The Tour then travelled north on 15th, then west on H Street stopping at Connecticut Avenue. Here Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch, spoke about the role of Occidental Petroleum in Latin America.

Soltani pointed out that the Los Angeles-based Occidental was involved in th development of "Plan Colombia." Since 1997, Congress has given Colombia $2.2 billion in military aid. The rationale was initially the drug war, then terrorism. Now, she said, we hear about the oil connection. The war in Colombia is a "blatant war for oil. The connection is clear--Latin America is the largest exporter of oil to the US" While the US is loosing the popular struggle to left governments in Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, the US attempts to "hold onto Colombia increasing military aid" to ensure the flow of oil.

The "horrible record" of Occidental extends to the destruction of rain forests in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru as well as to the Love Canal disaster in Buffalo, New York. Occidental is also believed to have complicity in the bombing of a village by the Colombia air force which killed 18 people. Yet, given all this, Congress considers another $110 million for Occidental, the speaker said.

The Tour moved onto Farragut Square to rally. Indymedia spoke to Cathy Strickler from Harrisburg, Virginia. Strickler, a retired high school counselor, read a notice about the Latin American Solidarity Conference in the Washington Post. She visited the web site and she and her husband decided to participate saying "if the organizers had gone to so much trouble to organize this event, we should show support." Strickler and her husband are pacificists with roots in the Church of the Brethen and had returned from a trip to Guatemala. Her husband was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. Besides out to show support for Latin Americans, Strickler was interested to learn more about the independent media.

At 4:40pm, the The Tour of Shame marched to its final destination Edward R. Murrow Park across from the World Bank. Across from barricades and lines of police, the protesters chanted "Cuts in education. Who do we have to thank? IMF and the World Bank. Dying children.... More sweatshops.... Privatization.... Cuts in health care.... Payment for water.... Who do we have to thank? IMF and the World Bank." Meanwhile, above the park at 18th and I Streets there were some tense moments of interaction between the anti-capitalist "bloc" and the police. However, no confrontations occurred, in contrast to the previous day at the ANSWER anti-war protest when police apparently targeted members of the anti-capitalist "bloc" for a beating.


20,000 protested against the Bush administration war and occupation on Iraq. While the protest participants were all committed to peaceful demonstration, the DC Metro Police gave special motorcycle and bicycle escort to those in the anticapitalist "bloc." A violent encounter eventually ensued with several protesters receiving injury from the police attack. Here is a first-person account by a Baltimore activist originally published on DC Indymedia.

by Shame

My Account from the Anti-War March that Took Place in DC on Saturday, April 12

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I was present at the march and kept close to the anti-capitalist contingent throughout the day. I say anti-capitalist because from my perspective it was in no way a unified black bloc because there were many individuals of various likeness taking part. The police tactic used was to surround the anti-capitalist bloc with motorcycles on one side at all times, and on both sides at others. The police were on motorcycles riding in the street specifically targeting the anti-capitalist "bloc". I believe the tension came from the fact that the police were only targeting this group of people, they were insisting on riding in the street right next to these people, and did so even when the streets became narrow with cars parked along the side. The cops did not hesitate to run into people with their motorcycles and if they hit someone they didn't even give it a second thought.

At one point the police could not get through the crowd because it was too dense and a line of parked cars were along the street so they hoped onto the sidewalk. In doing this the motorcycle police came very close to hitting a mother and daughter who were just walking and whom I don't even think were part of the protest. The response of the cop was "get the fuck out of the way!" It was shortly after this incident that the cops rushed into the crowd. I did not see what happened to cause the event, but I am guessing it had to do with them not being able to get their bikes through. The police rushed in, separated the march using their batons in a horizontal manner to push people away, and pepper sprayed at random. I was personally hit and I saw a few others get hit as well. The target of this was obviously the anti-capitalist bloc. From my perspective absolutely nothing had been done to provoke anything. I am unsure if anyone was arrested.

The march continued and the motorcycle cops were no longer along the edge. About 10 minutes later as we rounded a turn the motorcycle cops came back up the left hand side and along the right on the sidewalk. The cops, trying to get to the front of the area where the anti-capitalist bloc was, once again started running into people. The street narrowed and the cops moved into the march more because cars were parked along the street. I saw a couple of people who were participating in the anti-capitalist bloc stop in front of the motorcycles to not let them go by because they were just running into people from behind. This event managed to calm itself because from what I saw the cops got up off their motorcycles and put them in park and just stood there. After a bit the march continued and the motorcycles were not around.

As we rounded one of the last turns at which the ANSWER truck stopped to talk about Halliburton, the motorcycle police came up along the left again and established themselves near the front of the anti-capitalist bloc. The march proceeded up the street and I was near the front of the anti-capitalist bloc, or at the beginning of the police line of motorcycles that surrounded it. The same antics were going on, cars parked along the side of the street and the police running into people at random to keep their position. This is when things got a little hectic.

A person ran up and grabbed the baton of one of the motorcycle police officers. The batons of all of the motorcycle police officers were about 2 1/2 feet long and they were stuck horizontally in the bikes so that they hung off of the rear almost a foot. The person ran up and grabbed the one from the 2nd bike back, and then took off through the march to the other side of the street. The officer on the motorcycle directly behind the 2nd bike parked and chased after the person who took the baton. One or two officers who were on motorcycles behind him joined him and the rest parked their bikes and sat. The officers tackled the person and had them in custody when all of a sudden a wave of police rushed in from the side with their batons out and just started swinging.
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Protests of IMF/World Bank and US Militarism.
They pushed the crowd EXTREMELY violently in all directions. I saw one guy get hit in the head with a baton by one officer, while the other was pushing him with his baton horizontally. This caused the person to lose their shoe, which the officer then picked up and deliberately threw at the protestors in front of him. I am unsure of what all took place here, but it was definitely mayhem. A couple of different times the police charged the people who were gathered. From what I saw they were pushing people out of the street onto the sidewalk, but there were cops lining the sidewalk who were pushing people back onto the street. I believe the cops charged the crowd about three times, each time taking more of the street. Eventually they pretty much had the whole block. I know a couple of people got arrested at this point and I saw one person who had a gash on their forehead that was bleeding. The situation was tense for a good while. The police lined the sidewalk and pushed people onto the street. This all took place right near where the march was ending. The motorcycle cops were no longer around and the march continued to its ending point.

I am unsure if anything happened after that. I was near the beginning of the march, and I left shortly after arriving at the end. In retrospect I can say that at no time did any member of the anti-capitalist bloc do anything to provoke the actions that the police underwent today. The police have to expect confrontation when they are running their bikes into people, especially individuals participating in the anti-capitalist bloc. The anti-capitalist bloc was targeted; there is no question about that. As for the person who took the police baton: that was very stupid. But at the same time the police did not have to react the way they did. The person was on the ground and in custody before the police rushed in and started going haywire. And you know what enabled the police to arrest the person and have them in custody, the fact that only three officers responded to the incident. It wasn't until 40 or so police rushed in swinging that things got crazy. I am not making accusations, but the taking of a baton is exactly the type of thing an undercover police provocateur would do to legitimize a reaction like this.

People should be allowed to demonstrate no matter what their political beliefs. For the police to specifically target members of the anti-capitalist bloc is an attack on a political belief. I would hope that ANSWER and other individuals who took part in this march would speak out against what took place today and stand in solidarity with all those who were arrested, harassed, and beaten.

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