Metropolitan Police officers and National Guardsmen 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 be 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 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 being arrested sat in rows directly in front of police barricades and climbed over one at a time. When protesters reached the police side, they were hand cuffed immediately. The police placed arrested protesters in Metrobuses and vans.
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 appear around the District.
At 18th and K streets, MPD officers, clad in full riot gear, arrested about two busloads of protesters, while another group of MPD officers directed businesspeople and bystanders how to maneuver around clogged streets and sidewalks.
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.
Later, these smaller groups congregated and marched around downtown D.C. and continued to gain in numbers. About 1,000 protesters found themselves at the intersection of 20th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
These protesters agreed to be arrested in a symbolic gesture by going through barricades 15 at a time.
Some of the protesters spilled onto campus, but GW saw no unrest.
-Matt Berger contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the April 20, 2000 issue of the Hatchet.