nettime's_roving_reporter on Sun, 16 Apr 2000 09:49:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> A16 info [Sun Apr 16 02:46:25 EDT 2000]







<> [edited]

with demonstrators coming to dc to shut the place down, this 
bureaucratic capital responded as only a bunch of technocrats 
could: they shut the city down:

     - The Virginia Department of Transportation closes HOV 
       [high-occupancy vehicle] lanes into the city for 
       possible use by law enforcement and military troops.
     - Federal workers are told they can stay home if they 
       don't feel safe.
     - George Washington University closes for the weekend, 
       canceling events, banning overnight visitors, and 
       locking the library doors.
     - Panic at American University as well, though some 
       miles from the protest scene, as officials cancel 
       a debate on the World Bank and IMF
     - Pepco, the local electric utility sends 1,100 workers 


     DC police and fire department officials shut down the
     convergence center at 1328 Florida Ave. this morning.
     Plainclothes fire officials entered the center around 8:30
     on a preliminary investigation, just as protesters were
     finishing breakfast and preparing for nonviolence training.
     Protesters escorted the officials in as required by law.
     Eyewitnesses said it appeared that officials did not know of
     fire hazards before they entered the building.
     [Jay Sand, DC coordinator of the Independent Media Center,
     was attending a meeting when firemen interrupted and brought
     in police to clear people from the building. Reports from
     media teams inside the center claim that the firemen were
     wearing ATF badges. Firemen said that if IMF/World Bank
     critics didn't immediately evacuate, they would be forced to
     call police.... Sand said, at the time of a phone call to
     the IMC at 9:20 AM on Saturday, that police were barricading
     activists inside the alleged fire trap. IMC sources noted
     that the police were not wearing identification of any

     Officers from the city's police Emergency Response Team
     followed soon after. When they were asked if they had a
     search warrant, they did not respond.... 
     Peter Lumsdaine of the California-based Resource Center for
     Nonviolence was inside the building helping to prepare an
     agenda for the afternoon's spokescouncil. He said the fire
     marshal made no attempt to work with organizers. . .
     Crowds of late-arriving activists who gathered outside the
     building were pushed back to the corner of fourteenth and
     Florida by a wall of police. They quietly milled around in
     the intersection, failing to live up to their violent
     reputation. Some asked police for their names and missing
     badge numbers....
     The protesters weren't the only ones banned from crossing
     the police line. Legal observers were stopped from
     re-entering the block. Press corps members from the Canadian
     press, Harper's Magazine, and other publications were denied
     access to the press conference which was held behind police
     lines. One Canadian reporter planted herself in front of the
     police lines and began to chant, "I am the press! I am the
     press!" Other reporters picked up the cry. Police lines only
     parted for the local ABC affiliate, Associated Press, and
     other journalists with government-issued press passes.

     [INDEPENDENT MEDIA CENTER: No press credentials for weekly
     newspapers, community radio stations, and other small media
     outlets that want to cover the IMF and World Bank spring
     2000 meetings and the large demonstrations planned by social
     justice and environmental activists. In what appears to be
     an attempt to prevent media coverage that is unfavorable to
     its policies, the IMF has denied press passes to journalists
     who work at the Boulder Weekly, KAOS radio of Olympia,
     Washington, CorporateWatch website, and other independent
     media outlets.]
     DC Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer alleged
     that the raid was a response to complaints about the
     building. Gainer said that the fire marshal alleged that
     stairways and exits in the building were blocked and that
     the electrical system of the building was jerry-rigged....
     Nadine Bloch, one of the key organizers of the mobilization,
     announced at 10:30 a.m. that the convergence was relocating
     to the Wilson Center at 15th St. and Irving....


     WASHINGTON, April 15....
     Lines of police officers in riot helmets stamped their feet
     rhythmically and pumped their nightsticks in front of their
     chests as they moved in on the protesters a few blocks from
     the bank headquarters. 
     By late evening, the authorities said, about 600 people had
     been arrested....
     Although the marchers and their supporters on nearby
     sidewalks chanted for the police to let them go, Police
     Chief Charles H. Ramsey said later that the crowd had
     refused police orders to disperse. Reporters who had
     observed the march had not heard any such order....


EXTRA! APRIL 15 11:47 PM

     protestors have been using the Manhattan Laundry Building as
     a staging headquarters where people go to find housing,
     training, and where to go next. While there they have
     assisted the Booker T. Washington Charter School programs.
     They aided in cleaning and gutting a local abandoned
     building. They are patronizing our local businesses. Why are
     we treating them as criminals when they aren't committing

     I understand the need to protect the city from the
     possibility of property damage, similar to what happened in
     Seattle. That is why I and local officials have been
     actively meeting with and integrating the protestors into
     participating locally and assisting the residents at a grass
     roots level. Trying to educate ourselves about one another's
     missions and how to help each other. Because of the police
     action today we now have thousands of people wandering
     aimlessly around the streets, who are now wet, cold and

     JASON VEST, THE PULSE: The importance of the different
     perspectives alternative media bring to bear became clear in
     the coverage given to last year's "Battle in Seattle" World
     Trade Organization meeting. Few members of the mainstream
     media initially attached much significance to grassroots
     opposition to the WTO. Once a handful of rogue protesters
     started smashing a Starbucks, those media began paying more
     attention to the opposition, but seemingly with an eye
     towards marginalizing it. Rather than respectfully examining
     the years of organizing and scholarship done by protest
     leaders like of Walden Bello, Vandana Shiva, Lori Wallach,
     John Cavanagh and scores of others, mainstream headlines and
     pundits let fly terms such as "kooky crowd," "motley crew of
     protesters," "one-world paranoids," and, of course,
     "Luddites." Several community radio stations have been shut
     out of this week's meetings, as well as reporters from
     alternative weekly papers, both foreign and domestic. None
     have been given good reasons -- or any reasons at all -- for
     the refusals. (IMF staff did not return calls from


     Proving once again that history seldom acts the way it's
     meant to, one of the most dramatic demonstrations of recent
     Washington history took place this morning with only one cop
     and a handful of media in attendance -- as 700 steelworkers
     gave a warm standing ovation to the student activists in
     their midst.... [A] burly George Becker, International
     President of the Steelworkers [stood] before his members and
     declare[d], "These are my sons and granddaughters. This is
     my family." And the members applauded.
     "Every generation has to reestablish itself," said Becker,
     head of a union that not only organizes steel and aluminum
     workers, but those in rubber, mining and the chemical
     industries. The students had been invited to a panel
     discussion in which young and old activists could talk with
     each other. Included were veterans of more than 50 campaigns
     dealing with sweatshop and campus labor issues -- over 30 of
     them already successful in an explosion of college protest
     still downplayed by corporate media....
     One speaker described the college activism as the first
     student movement to protect workers' rights....


     "The Foggy Bottom neighborhood resembles an occupied city.
     Streets are closed, and public sidewalks are open only to
     people with acceptable identification. An officer with a
     video camera sands on the roof of the PEPCO building at all
     times, and other officers wander the area taking still
     photographs and video of people in the area, even if they
     are not attempting to enter the restricted zone. Anyone
     wearing buttons or carrying signs is given especially close
     scrutiny. The result is a chill on the expression of
     political views."
     NORMAN SOLOMON: ... Last Tuesday, as a warm-up, The Wall
     Street Journal began its lead editorial with the declaration
     that protesters "will be bringing their bibs and bottles to
     the nation's capital this week to have a run at the annual
     spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank." In the next
     sentence the newspaper labeled the array of expected
     protesters "a smorgasbord of save-the-turtles activists,
     anarchists, egalitarians, Luddites and Marxists."

     Police and landlords are showing merchants video clips of
     some of the unruly action during the protests against the
     World Trade Organization in Seattle in the fall . . . John
     Faison, general manager of T.G.I. Friday's, said his
     landlord showed him scenes of demonstrators....

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