GW cancels class, anticipates protests

The University announced Friday it will close this weekend and Monday, April 17, because of anticipated protests of World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.

GW administrators met with Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey last week to prepare for the protests. Late Friday, a memo released to the GW community announced the closing.

As a direct result of discussions with (MPD) who have assessed . the impact of the World Bank/IMF meetings on traffic in the area, the University has made the decision to close from Friday, April 14, at 10 p.m. until Tuesday, April 18, at 8 a.m, according to the memo.

Access to residence halls and the Marvin Center will be restricted to GW students and staff. Beginning Monday, the overnight guest policy for non-GW students will be suspended. Students must have a GWorld card to be signed into a residence hall.

One of the objectives of the closure is to minimize traffic around Foggy Bottom, where the meetings will take place, University officials said. The IMF and World Bank offices are located on 18th and 19th streets near several University buildings.

MPD spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile said MPD is still in the planning stages for the expected protests. All officers will be on duty, and officers will be assigned to the expected demonstrations, he said, although he would not disclose the number of officers that will be assigned to the demonstrations. Civil Disturbance Units were activated Sunday and will continue to patrol through the end of the meetings.

Students should expect large inconveniences because of large crowds on the streets, Gentile said.

He said a permit to protest has not been approved as of Thursday, and MPD continues to meet with the demonstrators.

(The protesters) have advised us they intend to have a peaceful demonstration, he said.

Gentile said streets will be closed around the IMF and the World Bank, though Thursday he could not say which streets are expected to close. A preliminary list of street closures and blockades will be released Monday, he said. The preliminary list is expected to expand, he said.

Our actions will be very much dependent on the group, Gentile said.

At a Tuesday press conference, IMF Acting Managing Director Stanley Fischer said the meeting planners are taking planned protests seriously. He said authorities are ensuring that the meetings can go on without disruption, but he said activities will not be absolutely normal.

The material that is being discussed at these meetings is very important for the operation of the world economy, for the people who live in the world economy, Fischer said. And you don’t really expect that whatever contingency plans we might or might not have would be made public at this stage.

Protesters already have begun to arrive and protest in certain areas of Washington, D.C. The World Bank and IMF meetings will begin Wednesday morning.

According to MPD’s Web site, businesses in the vicinity of the meetings should prepare for street closures and other potential disruptions. Construction sites should be secured, including all equipment and supplies, according to the Web site. MPD also advises businesses to develop a plan in case buildings and windows need to be secured.

At GW, all events scheduled for after Friday at 10 p.m. are canceled except for events in Lisner Auditorium and the Marvin Center. There will only be one entrance and exit for the Marvin Center, and GWorld cardholders will be allowed into the Marvin Center. The University advises the GW community to check the University’s Web site or call GW’s hotline at 994-5050 for updates on the status of University events.

-Ashley M. Heher contributed to this report.

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