By Mira Katz
U-WIRE Washington Bureau
Posted 4:15 p.m. Sept. 28
The World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF) will not hold their annual meetings this weekend in Washington, a move that could cut in half the number of demonstrators expected to attend.
Police officials now estimate up to 10,000 demonstrators could visit the
nation’s capital, a number sharply cut from the original estimate of 100,000 people.
The decision came shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.
“This decision was taken out of deepest respect and sympathy for the
families of all those touched by the horrific events of last Tuesday, and in
order to dedicate law enforcement personnel fully to the extraordinary and immediate priorities at hand,” World Bank President James Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst K?hler said in a statement.
Both men said they do plan to hold the 2002 meetings without delay next
District officials have worked for months preparing for the protests. Many
of the 100,000 activists were expected to converge on a downtown area of the nation’s capital.
Last month, Metropolitan Police officials considered erecting a 9-foot high
fence around a large downtown area. Thousands of officers from neighboring jurisdictions were also called in to help with the crowds.
Those demonstrators who do come this weekend said their causes range from anti-capitalism to anti-war.
Marches are expected to be held on Pennsylvania Avenue and in neighborhoods around the city Saturday and Sunday. Teach-ins and other gatherings will likely be held in parks, some of which surround the White House and World Bank.
D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told The Washington Post Friday his
force would be significantly lessened over the weekend. He said police which were set to originally protect World Bank and IMF officials may find
themselves protecting protesters from counter-demonstrators. About 700
counter-demonstrators are expected to meet near the Washington Monument Saturday, Ramsey told The Post.
A new date for the IMF and World Bank meeting has not been set, and is not expected to be rescheduled.
-Zeb Eckert contributed to this report.