September 29-30 IMF/World Bank Meeting in D.C.

Up Against the Capital Police

Revolutionary Worker #1116, August 26, 2001, posted at

At the end of September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are meeting in Washington, D.C.--and this is shaping up to be the next major confrontation between the corporate and government forces of imperialism and those who want a better world. The last such clash was in July, when the police in Genoa, Italy, carried out pounding assaults against anti-globalization protesters. Well before the protests in Genoa, the authorities in the U.S. began methodical preparations for massive police mobilization against the protests planned for D.C.

Ever since thousands of demonstrators disrupted the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999, the authorities have ratcheted up police preparations at major meetings of imperialist powers and their financial institutions in different cities around the world. But each time, determined resisters--especially rebel youth but also broader ranks of people--have been out in the streets to make their voices heard against the international exploiters and oppressors.

The IMF and World Bank meeting in Washington, D.C., will bring together 7,000 finance ministers, economic policy makers and private bankers from 183 different countries. These are the high-level administrators and bureaucrats whose debt- management and austerity programs have ravaged the environment and the lives of millions of people worldwide.

Demonstrations are being planned by a wide range of activists. The 50 Years Is Enough Network, a U.S.-based coalition of over 200 organizations, is calling on activists from all over the world to come to Washington to protest. In conjunction with the actions against the IMF and World Bank, another large coalition is calling for protests in September to oppose the policies of the Bush administration.

During the protests against the IMF/World Bank in April 2000, the D.C. police jailed 1,300 people in an attempt to stop the protests. They are now getting ready for tens of thousands of protesters at the upcoming IMF/World Bank meeting.

The authorities have announced they are going to put 7,000 cops on the street. This is nearly double the number of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, which has 3,550 cops. To assemble a 7,000-member force, the authorities are drawing on hundreds of cops from nearby jurisdictions: from Arlington, Fairfax, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties; state police from Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania; and military police from the D.C. National Guard.

To further beef up these forces, the D.C. police have contacted officials in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charlotte, N.C. and New York City--requesting that they, too, send cops to the demonstrations. The NYPD has been asked for the largest contingent--1,000 cops. These "volunteers" as they are referred to, will be paid by D.C. government (which is requesting millions in extra funds from the Bush administration).

They are making other preparations as well. According to the Washington Post, local and federal law enforcement officials met at the end of June to discuss the IMF/World Bank meeting. One of the things they decided was to move the site of meeting, which was originally scheduled for the Woodley Park Hotel (where the meeting has been held for the past 20 years) located in a residential area. The meeting will now be held at the World Bank headquarters in downtown Washington. Police say this change in venue is for the benefit of neighborhood residents who would be disrupted by the protests. But they also made clear that the new location would allow them to concentrate their forces in a single easily controlled area. Police officials said that large parts of the city--the area surrounding the White House, the IMF, and the World Bank--will be sealed off with nine-foot-high metal fencing.

As we go to press, there are news reports that the IMF and World Bank have scaled back their meeting to the weekend of September 29-30 because of "security concerns." Their meeting was originally scheduled to start before the weekend and last till October 3.

The imperialists are doing some tactical assessing on how to conduct their international meetings. In the wake of the huge protests in Genoa, imperialist officials wondered out loud whether they could ever hold such meetings in the same way again. A NY Times editorial advised, "In planning future meetings, Mr. Bush and his fellow leaders need to steer a course between isolated, bunkerlike gatherings in remote areas and meetings in congested cities like Genoa that lend themselves to violent street demonstrations." The next WTO meeting, in November, is scheduled for the Persian Gulf kingdom of Qatar, and the next G8 meeting for a mountain resort in Alberta, Canada.

The IMF and World Bank annual meeting have historically been held in Washington, D.C. And the U.S. imperialists apparently want to make a point with the September IMF/World Bank convocation that "we will meet when and where we want." D.C. Police Chief Ramsey declared: "Whatever takes place, we are going to keep control of these streets, and Washington, D.C. is not going to burn."

In recent years, the planning by authorities to contain and suppress major protests have increasingly involved national agencies like the FBI and Secret Service. The planning for the D.C. protests take things to a new, ominous level. The pulling together of police from a number of big-city departments in effect creates--at least temporarily--a sort of a national police force.

These intense police-state preparations in D.C. show once again how much the world powers have been stung by the growing anti-globalization movement. It is a very positive development for the oppressed people of the world that whenever these imperialist bloodsuckers meet, they are hounded by people determined to take to the streets and expose the crimes of global capitalism.

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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