Students learn how to protest through non-violent means

Students from around the country learned how to become non-violent protesters this weekend, as they attended training sessions in a make-shift headquarters of protests against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Police and fire marshals raided and closed the actual headquarters of Mobilization for Global Justice early Saturday morning.

They immediately demanded people evacuate, said Neil Tangri of Essential Action, who was in the convergence center during the 8:40 raid. They were not letting people leave with their belongings.

Terry Gainer, executive assistant chief of Metropolitan Police, said officers found blocked staircases, flammable materials and possibly a Molotov cocktail in the converted warehouse.

It really was a hazard to the young people who were in there, Gainer said. The real purpose was to make sure these kids don’t burn up in a fire.

Two people were arrested and charged with failure to abide by a lawful order, according to a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman.

Han Shan, an organizer with Mobilization for Global Justice, said police were using suspicious tactics to shut down the protesters’ coordination.

It’s certainly a bump in the road, but we’re not going to be deterred, Shan said. I think we had some expectation that the police and FBI would be watching us closely.

This type of oppression is exactly what we’ve seen (in other countries) said Patrick Reinsborough, an organizer for Mobilization for Global Justice.

Organizers moved to a couple of converted churches, which they knew in advance would be available to them.

We’re teaching other people how to deal with situations when things turn tense, said an organizer for Earth First, who identified herself only as Heather. The goal of Saturday’s training sessions is how to protect yourself and other people . and keep situations from the point when things get out of control.

Trainers taught protesters how to deal with police, the media and handle potentially volatile situations.

In one scene, young protesters grabbed hands in a circle and tried to stay linked as others acted as police officers and tried to break up the group by force. As one of the members was pulled away from the circle, the remaining chanted non-violence and hell no, we won’t go.

In addition, many protesters sat in groups, discussing non-violence tactics.

It’s radical democracy at work . which is a direct contrast to the organizations we’re protesting, said Reinsborough.

The word de-escalation was used by many students who were involved in the training sessions this weekend.

(The organizers) are encouraging everyone to participate in non-violence training because . we’re learning valuable tactics and information on what happens if the police (use force), said Julia Rosenblatt, a recent college graduate who lives in San Francisco.

We are being told (by the organizers that) the police has made it very clear that as long as we stay in the permitted area, we will be left alone, she said.

However, Rosenblatt said Saturday that the goal of the protesters is to shut down the World Bank, and they do not intend to remain behind the lines.

A community garden, located a few blocks away, was the site of a gathering for a number of protesters who wanted to give back to the community. Liz Wuerffel, a student at the University of Indiana traveled to D.C. with two friends in order to witness the World Bank protests.

It’s a complicated issue, not as clear cut as `the World Bank and IMF are bad organizations and should be abolished,’ Wuerffel said. I don’t want to have such a severe outlook. To abolish (these organizations) without taking a deeper look at reorganization is a hasty step.

Members of the U.S. Secret Service arrived at the garden, urging protesters to cooperate with them Sunday. But they were met with arguments and debate.

There’s definitely this intense feeling in the air, Rosenblatt said.

Matt Berger contributed to this report.

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