Posted 3:48 p.m. April 22
by Jamie Meltzer
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – About 1,000 protestors gathered in front of the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., this weekend to voice their opposition to the meetings being held on Saturday. The protest departed from similar demonstrations in previous years with its relatively small numbers and no reported violence or arrests.
The demonstration began at 11 a.m. with protestors brandishing signs and banners signifying their cause which read, “Stop corporate control of our democracy,” “Imprison Bush” and “amBUSHed by corporate injustice.”
The atmosphere was peaceful, as many demonstrators banged drums, danced and shouted to disrupt the meetings being held inside the building in the Northwest section of the city.
“I haven’t seen much; I expected a little more,” said Courtney, who traveled from Worchester, Mass. Courtney, a college student who chose not to disclose her last name, said that she had been planning to come for the rally for months. The role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the globalization of many impoverished nations prompted Courtney to major in International Development and hopes that one day she will be able to counter all the “bad effects of the IMF.”
Steve Kratzmann, one of the organizers of the demonstration and representative of Mobilization for Global Justice, expected the small turnout. He said that his group is more concerned with mobilizing for the larger World Bank/IMF meetings that will take place in September. When asked exactly his group was protesting, Kratzmann stressed he is against “corporate globalization,” not the phenomenon itself.
“The way (globalization) is happening values corporate control more than human rights, the environment and other issues that we all care a lot about,” he said.
The demonstration gained some momentum at about noon, when thousands of pro-Palestinian protestors en route to a rally at the White House passed by the World Bank building to voice their opposition to the America’s role in funding Israel’s weaponry.
The crowd consisted of all ages and ethnicities and resembled a mixed bag of supporters from gay rights activists to environmentalists. Approximately 20 Hassidic Jews marched along with the pro-Palestinian demonstrators, wearing shirts proclaiming, “We are all Palestinians.”
While the march included numerous traditional debates, few were focused on the discussions happening inside the World Bank headquarters across Pennsylvania Avenue.
Blake, a 22-year-old student from Miami University of Ohio, organized for months along with 20 students at his university. He expressed his concern over U.S. military occupation and their “paying for the slaughter of Palestinians.”
“Some in the United States have to wake up and realize what the government is doing, because it’ll come back to haunt us later,” Blake said.
Many children were also being used to reinforce the demonstrators’ message. Four men were carrying a wooden coffin on their shoulders with an 8-year-old girl inside, symbolizing a dead Palestinian child. At one point, tired at “playing dead,” the young girl sat up sleepily to look around quickly.
Another young girl, was seated in a stroller carrying a sign, “Palestinian children have rights too!”
Despite the emotional charge of the participants, the demonstrations were peaceful. No arrests were made, amongst a police presence of about 400.
To signify this nonviolent tone, a man followed the Palestinian demonstrators playing Bob Dylan’s famous song, “Blowing in the Wind” on his clarinet.
This article appeared in the April 18, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.