Metropolitan Police and National Guard officers arrested peaceful protesters in front of Francis Scott Key Hall Monday, the third day in a weekend filled with rallies against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Protesters who wanted to get arrested as a symbolic act negotiated with police. A group composed mostly of members of the Western Mass Resistance Coalition asked for permission to allow a representative from the a16 group into the World Bank and IMF meetings.
The group’s members also wanted to climb over police barricades across 20th and F streets as a symbolic gesture, to show they were fighting the city’s decision to keep them out of the meetings.
Many of the activists held their folded hands over their heads and sang folk songs. They carried a large sign that called for an end to sweatshops. Those members who were interested in getting arrested sat in rows directly in front of police barricades and climbed over one at a time.When each protester reached the police side, he or she was cuffed immediately. The police placed arrested protesters in Metrobuses and vans, but one bus was stuck a little while.Despite afternoon arrests, the day began relatively quietly as rain pounded city streets and protesters slept in, presumably recovering from Sunday’s activities. But by 8:30 a.m., small groups of protesters began to sprout around the District.
At 18th and K streets, MPD, clad in full riot gear, arrested about two bus loads of protesters, while another group of MPD officers directed businesspeople and bystanders about where to turn.
There’s a full-scale riot behind a ways, an officer said to a woman who wanted to pass the police line to enter a building behind them.
At the time, tear gas already permeated the air on 18th Street, where police had quelled activists earlier.
Soon after, a small group of protesters who wore black and red and called themselves the Anarchists traveled from the GW campus past T.G.I. Friday’s on 21st and I streets. The group clashed with MPD officers, who appeared to be in plainclothes except for blue MPD sweatshirts. Within minutes, police in riot gear arrived on the scene and the protesters continued to march without violence.
Later these smaller groups congregated and marched around downtown D.C. and continued to garner numbers. About a thousand protestors found themselves at the intersection of 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Paper mache masks, overturned buckets that served as makeshift drums and colorful signs were commonplace. A large banner that read The World Bank destroys rainforests, was hung from a construction site.
These protesters agreed to get arrested in a symbolic gesture by going through barricades 15 at a time. These protesters also were hauled away in buses.
Some of the protesters spilled onto campus, but GW saw no unrest.
-Matt Berger contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the April 17, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.