Violence Erupts at Protest in Georgetown
Rallies Target World Bank, IMF

By Clarence Williams and Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 20, 2007

Wearing black shirts and covering their faces with bandannas, scores of sometimes unruly demonstrators marched through Georgetown last night to protest the international finance and development organizations meeting this weekend.

Despite the large contingent of officers on scooters and bicycles who flanked and followed the 200 to 300 protesters, violent incidents broke out. A woman bled after being struck in the face with what police said was a flying brick.

Trash cans were overturned in the rain-dampened streets, objects were thrown, and newspaper boxes were overturned. Two protesters were arrested in connection with an incident in which an officer was pushed from a scooter, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.

Many store windows were boarded up in anticipation of the demonstration, which targeted the meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, but two unprotected windows were struck near Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. It was not clear whether they were broken.

In previous years, demonstrations had focused on the institutions' headquarters just west of the White House. But Rusty Shakkleford, 18, said protesters went to Georgetown, in addition to the traditional sites, because it was where the delegates dined and stayed. "We're just here to tell them the American people will not let them exploit the Third World community," Shakkleford said.

About 10:30 p.m., demonstrators and police confronted each other near 29th and M streets, where an order to disperse was given. It appeared that most or all of the demonstrators were complying with the order.

Earlier yesterday, the demonstrators rallied outside the headquarters of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to condemn U.S. economic and immigration policies.

Chanting, "No justice, no peace!" to the beat of a makeshift drum, about 100 activists crowded the sidewalk outside the agency's I Street complex about noon. They said that much immigration to the United States was the result of harsh overseas economic policies on the part of the government, the World Bank and the IMF.

The demonstration was observed by a dozen District police officers in white riot helmets as well as knots of construction workers building a high-rise across the street.

Demonstrators plan another march today aimed directly at the bank and the IMF. It is slated to start at 12:30 p.m. in Franklin Park, 14th and I streets NW, and end at 3 p.m. in Edward R. Murrow Park, 18th and H streets NW, adjacent to the World Bank. Numerous street closings will be in effect.

Assistant Police Chief Patrick Burke, head of the homeland security bureau, said he has many extra officers on the streets to handle the protests.

"People are allowed to peaceably assemble. That's part of living in America," Burke said. "In the event they plan to get violent or do damage to property, we are well prepared to deal with that scenario."

Several demonstrators at the afternoon rally wore dark bandannas over their faces. One carried a black flag. Another wore a T-shirt that read, "Don't Tase Me Bro."

"We declare today a day of solidarity with immigrants," said Marco Del Fuego, an organizer with the October Coalition, which is staging the weekend's rallies. He decried proposals to arrest illegal immigrants, moves he said "would require police to racially profile our community. . . . We are against that."

Basav Sen, 42, of Petworth, said: "I'm here to protest the racist, abusive policies of the United States. And to connect these policies with the global economy.

"The policies that drive people from their home countries to migrate to the United States are in fact the very policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank," he said. Free-trade policies, for example, might open markets but can drive small firms out of business, he said.

Speaking earlier yesterday about the coming protest in Georgetown, Del Fuego called the neighborhood "a seat of excessive wealth and privilege [where] they don't care very much about the poverty and misery on the other side of the city."

Goods bought and sold there "are made in the sweatshops of . . . Third World countries," he said, and customers "don't care at all about the consuming habits, how that causes misery and poverty, not only here but in communities all over the world."

Staff writer Allison Klein contributed to this report.

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