How secure is U.S. Trade Representative’s headquarters?

September 27, 2013
Protest banner at the U.S. Trade Rep's office. (Photo Ellen Davidson
Protest banner at the U.S. Trade Representative”s office. (Photo Ellen Davidson

 

As demonstrations go, the protest Monday against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a huge trade agreement being negotiated now at the U.S. Trade Rep’s office in Washington, was, in terms of size, no big deal.

The handful of demonstrators from  “Flush the TPP,” an assortment of enviro, veterans, Code Pink, and other activists chanting in front of the building against the 11-nation treaty, hardly merited media attention.

But as pure guerrilla theater, the noon-time demonstration could rank among the best. . . ever.

Eight  “construction workers” in blue coveralls and yellow hard hats somehow made their way up an unsecured scaffolding — the building, the second-oldest still in use, was undergoing some exterior work —  to the top, where they  unfurled a huge, 10′ by 30′  banner condemning the proposed treaty as a corporate giveaway.

Then five of the eight ” workers” moved onto a lower balcony — we seem to recall that’s on the same floor at U.S. Trade Rep. Mike Froman’s office —  and hung two more banners.

Protest banner at the U.S. Trade Rep's office (Photo: Ellen Davidson)
Protest banner at the U.S. Trade Representative”s office (Photo: Ellen Davidson)

The police finally showed and briefly handcuffed one protester. But that was all.

The action had been planned for a month, said Kevin Zeese, an organizer at Popular Resistance.org, with the coveralls and hard hats ordered on line. The door to the scaffolding was always open, he noted, and the group did a final “scouting” mission the Friday before the event.

But when they arrived on Monday, wearing their “Stop the TPP” hats, he said, “we were shocked that there were no workers, no security. It was amazing.” “We wanted to do something audacious,” Zeese said, “we wanted to be bold.” Indeed.

We’re told that for security reasons, USTR would not answer queries about how the protesters managed to scale the building, but said that the agency has a “security posture”  that protects all employees.

Did we mention the U.S. Trade Representative’s office is just across the street from the White House complex, specifically the Eisenhower Executive Office Building?

Here’s a video of the event.

 

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Al Kamen · September 26, 2013

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