Posted 11:59 a.m. Sept. 27
by Carolyn Polinsky
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)
(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON–In a church meeting room decorated with colorful paintings, children’s handprints and paintings of flower, trees, snowmen and the sun, political activists met on Thursday night-many dressed in dirty black sweatshirts and green combat pants- and discussed ways in which to shut down downtown Washington, D.C. on Friday in protest of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings.
The Anti-Capitalist Convergence and other groups have organized a ‘People’s Strike’, in which several actions will take place including an early morning snake march “to put the squeeze on corporate greed’, a bike strike in which bikers will promote earth liberation and alternatives to big oil, and a percussion protest against war in Iraq scheduled all Friday and Saturday at Freedom Plaza, near the White House. A concert with a permit is scheduled to occur at Farragut Square in downtown Washington, D.C.
In case of arrests, groups have come up with a legal solidarity proposal and hope to have at least 50 of those arrested remain in jail. Protesters were advised to write down the number of a legal hotline on their skin and were given the name of an attorney to contact.
At Casa Del Pueblo United Methodist Church, which is being used as a welcome center, a young man sitting beneath a sign reading ‘Jesus is My Lord. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’ shared a way of passing the time in jail.
“If they police ask if you’ve ever used an alias go wild,” he said.
The ACC held informational and advising sessions and workshops throughout Wednesday and Thursday at the church. In addition to the events made known to the public, there are target areas known to ACC members, at which different “affinity groups” or clusters will gather. No member of the ACC has full knowledge as to where and which groups will protest.
However some individuals suggested and shared plans for creating disturbances. One Californian woman sitting between two stained-glass windows said that she was part of a pagan group who would cover themselves with mud and wear transparent wings. Someone suggested a nude blockade and another man said he would place ‘Out of Order’ signs on metro card machines, vending machines and parking meters.
One group planned to be part of a ‘fun state’ where games would be played at a street corner and another group planned to play Twister and entice motorists with vegan brownies. Activists have been converging from across the globe, and for the few past days there have been legal and informational sessions held all over the city. An anti-authoritarian baby-sitters club has been set up to take care of children
At the welcome center in the church lobby, tables held pamphlets and papers that offer information about the city and demonstrations, legal rights and a police misconduct report. Also available was an essay asking, “What is heterosexual privilege?” and an anarchist magazine stating that “anarchists not only deny the authority of God, Chief of Police of the Universe, but also maintain a healthy distrust of his successors: Nature, History, Science, and Morality.”
Many of those gathered wore black clothing, patched jeans, dreadlocks, beards, bandanas or piercings. They sat beneath a ceiling decorated with cutouts of colorful tissue paper and ate a vegan stuffing-like mixture of tofu, curry, potatoes served on reused plastic plates or in organic yogurt cartons. Sheets of brown paper listing the meeting agenda and a map of the protest area ware placed on a wall overtop a painting of a lake and forest.
Also on Thursday night, homeless people and activists met outside of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and spent the night in protest of the organization’s policies. Theresa Burton, a 66 year-old retired meat cutter said there’s “a lot of boarded-up housing that could be fixed up” for those in need in Washington, D.C.
“If you don’t want people on the street, give them somewhere to stay,” she said. She has lived in the district all her life, but has never seen conditions this badly for those in need of affordable housing.
Demonstrators said that they will hand out flyers to H.U.D. workers all weekend detailing policies that they think are unfair. They support the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund and say it would help create over 1.5 millions units of low-income housing. Tenants and advocates will speak out about their experiences within the system.
“I share the need for affordable housing with millions of homeless and low-income people in America,” said James Miles.
He said that gentrification has pushed lower income people to the corners of the district while people with more money stay within the city. “We can provide services and baby-sit and we can’t afford to live with them,” he said.
Rhonda Blackman is a single mother of two children who is homeless despite being trained for a management position for McDonald’s. She advocates apartments for single mothers who don’t have families to stay with.
The protesters said that not only has the city failed to house people with the lowest income, decent housing is also unaffordable to teachers and firemen and other people with low to middle incomes.
Michael Waters, a member of the activist group Food Not Bombs from Indiana, helped provide food for the group. He came with a dozen other people and said they will help out in making food and baby-sitting throughout the weekend.
“Individual interests and beliefs need to be changed,” he said.
The IMF and World Bank are made up of 184 countries that give money and funding to nations for economic development. Many groups are against the organization because they don’t support the environmental or labor policies of the countries to which money is loaned. Other opposition groups advocate easing the debt that developing countries owe.
In April 2000, 20,000 protesters converged in Washington, D.C. and about 1,300 were arrested.
The group Mobilization for Global Justice plans to meet at noon at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument on Saturday. Later on, they plan to quarantine the World Bank and physically wrap it in biohazard tape and wash the buildings with mops and buckets of soap.