MPD prepares for protests

D.C. officials are bracing for an estimated 100,000 protesters at the two-day International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings which run Sept. 29 and 30, spending $29 million on more than two miles of concrete and metal fences and several thousand police officers, according to The Washington Post.

More than 7,000 public officials and private bankers are expected to attend the meetings to discuss poverty, AIDS prevention and the Latin American financial crisis. The IMF and World Bank meetings were originally scheduled to start Sept. 28 and end Oct. 3, but were shortened to two days after similar meetings around the world met with heavy protests and some violence.

Kevin Morison, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Department, said MPD is still in the process of finalizing its operational plan during the protest.

“There will be a security perimeter around a broad area,” Morison said, though he could not specify how much of the GW campus would fall under the perimeter.

Preparations for the meetings and protests include two miles of nine-foot fencing that will surround 220 downtown acres and block 27 streets, including several apartment buildings, stores, restaurants, offices and a church., according to the Post. Morison could not confirm those numbers.

Michael Freedman, vice president for communication, said the University hopes the fencing will contain as much of GW’s campus as possible although it is still unclear which buildings will be protected.

Morison said MPD has been working with GW officials and briefing them on necessary precautions during the protests.

“We consulted (the University) about expectations in regard to the protests,” Morison said. “Ultimately the University made the decision to close and it was their decision to make.”

Morison said MPD cannot force anyone to leave but it will be in touch with Foggy Bottom residents and the local business community.

When planning for the meetings and protest, MPD’s goals are to allow the IMF and World Bank to hold their meetings, allow demonstrators to exercise their first amendment right in a peaceful and lawful manner and to protect the people and property of D.C., Morison said.

Sharon Gang, deputy director of the office of communications said D.C. mayor Anthony Williams is working closely with MPD and the federal government.

The federal government agreed to reimburse the District $16 million by Dec. 31 of this year for their preparations, Gang said. Morison said the District feels it has a sufficient number of officers to handle the protests as long as the demonstrations remain peaceful. He acknowledged that MPD will be bolstering its force with police officers from across the country and federal authorities.

The Post reported that D.C. nearly doubled its police force with more than 3,000 police officers from other jurisdictions, including 1,000 from the New York Police Department creating a force of 8,200 officers, but Morison said final numbers were not known.

Past IMF and World Bank meetings in Seattle and Quebec, drew mostly peaceful protests, although small contingents of mostly anarchists did exact millions of dollars in property damage.

Morison said MPD has been keeping track of IMF and World Bank recent Prague and Genoa, Italy to judge what precautions to take for the upcoming protests.

“Catapults and fire bombs that were seen in Quebec and Genoa are a serious concern,” he said.

At last month’s Group of Eight meeting in Genoa, police shot and killed one protester. Security at the meeting reportedly cost the Italian government $100 million.

MPD is planning to handle the September protest differently than the protest in April 2000, Morison said.

“Differences in MPD plans for the protest in September relate to changes in the protest movement,” he said. “The movement is larger and far more violent than the protests in April 2000.”

During the April 2000 meetings of the IMF and World Bank in D.C., police arrested more than 600 protesters, according to an April 17, 2000 Hatchet article.

Morison advised students who wish to take part in the protest to renounce violence.

“This is an exciting time and an exciting expression of democracy,”
Morison said.

–Mosheh Oinounou and Becky Guyon
contributed to this report

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