A afternoon stroll in the nation’s capital

Posted 2:53 p.m. Sept. 30

by Rati Bishnoi
U-WIRE (DC BUREAU)

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON–It was one of those beautiful Washington D.C. days.

The kind where the wind gently ruffles the flags around the Washington Monument before it glides through your hair and the sheer brightness of the sun makes everything seem possible.

On days like these a breeze of lazy hopefulness invades D.C. and like the pied piper of Hamlin brings in thousands of protesters as it did this weekend for the IMF/World Bank annual meetings.

For hours traffic was blocked in certain parts of the city and bystanders witnessed events their children will read about in high school text books ten years from now.

On these days anything goes, even being naked, all in the name and bounds of protest.

This year Amelia Lanza, a college student from Burlington, Vt. walked down the streets of the District in little less than a thin chemical protection suit with the slogan, ‘Cancel the Debt’ spray painted on her body.

Underneath the translucent suit, Lanza wore only underwear, and was playful about her appearance, saying, “Any excuse to get naked uhm?”

“I just hope they (spectators) don’t look at me as a crazy leftist,” said Lanza.

But Lanza isn’t just a lone protester who could be mistaken for a ‘crazy leftist,’-she is one of the more than 2,000 protesters who converged on the nation’s capital to protest the annual IMF and World Bank meetings.

Although her methods might seem extreme, she fits in completely with the anti-IMF/World Bank cheerleaders, juggling Lady Liberties on stilts and drum beating musicians that lead the protest because she is donning one of the many overarching messages of the anti-IMF/World Bank movement.

Lanza’s sign, which was painted on her back, referred to only one of the many enjoined messages of the movement.

Her sign called for the cancellation of debts of developing nations that have received assistance from the IMF and the World Bank. This message which as been claimed by anti-IMF/World Bank organizations for years has recently been championed by celebrities such as U2’s Bono. These groups claim the capital being used by indebted countries to pay interest to their debtors keeps these countries from providing services such as AIDS/HIV treatment and easily accessible water and electricity for their citizens.

One major focus in this years protest concerned the plea by these groups for $2.5 billion dollars to combat the AIDS/HIV epidemic in Africa.

“There is such a feeling of empowerment here. I hope that people can use that on a smaller scale, not necessarily only against the World Bank, but in their own towns,” said Lanza as a group of protesters started screaming, “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!”

Lanza turned to the source of the chant and stopped as she heard an ACT UP, a national anti-IMF/World Bank organization’s speaker say over a microphone, “The U.S. government spent $14 billion to bail out the airline industry after Sept. 11. They spent $14 billion not to save lives, but to save profit!”

“SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!” continued the crowd.

“Well I’d better go line up,” said Lanza as she picked up a 5-foot cardboard syringe reading ‘Justice Vaccine’ that had been lying next to her and slung in over her shoulder.

As Lanza walked away and joined a group of protesters wearing the same chemical body suit, she didn’t seem liked a ‘crazy leftist,’ just someone who seemed relieved that the sun wasn’t too bright and the breeze was gentle.

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