As the city prepares for protests officials predict to be “the lightest in recent memory,” GW students get ready to demonstrate or observe the crowds.
GW Action Coalition members plan to join rallies for peace and against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Saturday and Sunday.
GW will be open and operate on a normal schedule for the weekend, unlike during anti-war demonstrations last fall when the University announced it would close because of protests expected at World Bank/IMF meetings. The meetings were postponed after Sept. 11, and GW reopened residence halls but classes remained canceled for two days.
Students will not be allowed to have overnight guests in residence halls over the weekend, unless the guest is a family member and the student informed the Community Living and Learning Center by April 15. Students will need a GWorld card to access all GW buildings. Officials said UPD will add patrols and the Mount Vernon shuttle will stop at the Hall on Virginia Avenue during the day and night Saturday and Sunday.
As many as 15,000 people are expected to march in different locations during the weekend and hear speakers like Martin Luther King III and Rev. Al Sharpton.
John Petrie, assistant vice president for public safety and emergency management, sent an e-mail to all students this month calling the protests “the lightest in recent memory.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that the protests will be peaceful,” said junior Eleiza Braun, a field organizer for the Student Peace Action Network, who will protest the war in Afghanistan.
Other groups, like School of the Americas, Watch GW, Student Global AIDS Campaign, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Progressive Student Union, International Socialist Organization and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance will join GWAC.
Although GWAC organized as a group for the planned September protests, members will go their separate ways this weekend.
“There are many different marches and actions going on next weekend, and I think everyone in GWAC has their own idea of what they plan on doing around them,” junior Monica Bunton said.
She said group members will divide themselves between demonstrations like Student Mobilization to Stop the War, protests at the World Bank and IMF and the Colombia Solidarity Peace March.
Bunton said she would like to attend a variety of rallies, including the Student Peace March, SUSTAIN demonstrations, the World Bank/IMF protests and Plan Colombia events.
“A lot of them feed into each other because all the issues are inherently related, which is an interesting point and makes it somewhat easier since there’s so much going on that I feel strongly about,” she said.
Junior and GWAC member Brian Dolber, who said he will probably protest at the World Bank/IMF, said he was interested in documenting any civil disobedience that may occur and help defend protesters at Israeli President Ariel Sharon’s speech at the Washington Hilton Monday.
“I’d like to see it and somewhat help out, but I’m not completely comfortable (and) don’t want to be arrested,” Dolber said.
Others are less involved but awaiting the excitement.
“All I know is that there is an IMF protest and anti-war protest,” freshman Jack Holbrook said. “I’m going to go talk to everyone and have a good time.”