About 30 members of the GW Action Coalition joined hundreds of activists in front of World Bank headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue Sunday afternoon in a peaceful protest of the organization’s international lending policies.
Metropolitan Police Department officials said no property damage was reported.
“It went very well, it was very peaceful,” Metropolitan Police Department Chief John Ramsey said. “I think it’s what a First Amendment protest should be all about”
Students made up a large number of the demonstrators in Edward R. Murrow Park across from the World Bank building at 2121 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., amidst a swarm of media companies and concentrated police presence.
David Levy, protest organizer and member of the Mobilization for Global Justice organization, said about half of the 300 to 400 protesters were students.
Protesters rallied for the bank to cancel the debt of third-world countries, which demonstrators said suffer from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s international lending practices.
Groups also protested the privatization of D.C. General Hospital and sweatshop labor practices at the bi-annual meeting of international delegates.
GW Action Coalition member and senior Todd Tucker said Sunday’s protest was smaller than last year’s IMF/World Bank protests because organizers focused on protests at Quebec’s City Free Trade Agreement of the Americas meeting last week. Tucker is an employee of the World Bank Bonds Boycott, an organization that lobbies against the bank’s lending practices.
MPD, U.S. Park Police and Secret Service were stationed at the Pennsylvania Avenue protest site, but a few University Police officers were stationed around campus as a march passed the Marvin Center and Thurston Hall late Sunday afternoon.
MPD established a perimeter around the park, completely blocking off some streets, including H Street in front of the Quad.
Protesters listened to several speakers in the park before beginning a permitted march around the World Bank headquarters.
GW students and other spectators watched the march from sidewalks and windows.
“I have never seen anything like this,” said Dawn Watkins, a high school junior from New Jersey who was in D.C. visiting GW. “I knew that the city of Washington was a busy and exciting place, but I never have seen anything like this.”
Program Board Executive Chair Seth Weinert followed the protest down F Street on his bicycle.
“What better to do on a Sunday afternoon than see a protest?” Weinert said. “It’s bigger than I thought it would be.”
Some GW students brought lawn chairs to the park across from the 2000 Penn shopping complex to watch the demonstrations.
“We saw the whole thing (on TV) in Quebec and we thought we’d come down,” freshman Joe Wellford said. “We figured the cops wouldn’t come and club us if we’re sitting in chairs.”
-Jane Smith contributed to this report.