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<nettime> A16 reports, Sunday night [x2]

"Paul" <>
     Weathereport (3)
"Max B. Sawicky" <>

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From: "Paul" <>
Date: Sunday, April 16, 2000 10:24 PM
Subject: Weathereport (3)

     [orig to lots of people]

Please forward to interested parties
Subject: IMF/World Bank Protests in Washington D.C

Weathereport (3)
April 16, 2000 (Sunday edition)
Early morning rain with a heavy chance of activists
blocking streets and alleys leading to the IMF
building in Downtown Washington D.C.

This is what democracy looks like. Affinity groups
composed of students from Chicago and Maryland step
into the cross-section of 14th and I street, lit only
by the early morning sun. On the sidewalk, "action
elves," who provide scouting reports for the groups
brief the human blockaders as they begin to link
hands. At this intersection, they are standing. At
others, they sit cross-legged, with their linking arms
inside PVC tubes to prevent cops from clubbing the
arms and breaking the link. Some groups don't form a
line to block traffic; they link together in the
middle of the street in a circle, using Kryptonite
bike locks to cuff their hands and heads together. Two
blocks west of this intersection, an affinity group
from Charlottesville, North Carolina shrink-wrapped
themselves together with industrial strength plastic
sheets. They walked onto their intersection and
instantly made a 40 feet long human fence as imposing
as anything you see surrounding the government
buildings here. At 14th and I, they've made a human
chain that stretches the diagonal length of the
intersection. Media producers both independent and
network click and write and videotape the anxious
young faces that make up the chain. Behind them stands
a row of 37 D.C. police officers in riot helmets and
batons, holding the crowd of protesters at a
predefined distance from the IMF building. People
begin to sing. Legal observers working with the
movement position themselves with notebooks in hand,
ready to write down badge numbers and give legal
advice. Protesters continue to fill the streets as
affinity groups race to set up their blockades at
their designated spots. Someone told me the IMF
meetings start at 9:00AM. It was only 6:30AM.
By 10:00AM Dan and I have made the rounds to all the
affinity groups working to block delegates from
entering the IMF building. We settle at 18th and E,
with approximately 150 to 200 people in the middle of
the street, linked, and in reverie. Protests are the
greatest free form of entertainment we have left, and
this intersection proves it. Flanking this crew of
dreadlocks and backpacks on the north side are 10 riot
police behind a provisional fence. One block east a
row of 25 riot cops stand in ready, with more on the
way. Helicopters circle above and police sirens wail
from the south. I smell something acidic in the air,
and not knowing the difference between the smell of
tear gas and the smell of vinegar (used to counteract
the effects of tear gas), I clutch my gas mask and
brace for the worst. The human chains begin to bunker
down and sing. Reinforcements are called for from the
adjacent intersections. Drums and voices compete with
helicopters and sirens. The riot cops a block away
begin to close in.
And then, a soccer ball shoots into the air. Four
people emerge from behind the human chains and chase
down the ball, which now bounces in front of the front
line. One person catches up to it and kicks the ball
to someone on the other side of the street. In a
matter of seconds, a soccer game starts. At one end of
the street, 200 protesters are linked together,
determined not to let cops and delegates through the
intersection. On the other end, 25 riot cops march
toward the protesters. And in the middle, four kids
playing soccer. The singing grows as more people
filter in from other intersections to support the
confrontation. The soccer game intensifies as the cops
continue to close in. It is tense, but thrilling. The
songs turn into chants and two hundred people begin
yell, " This is what democracy looks like." Protesters
rhythmically repeat this over and again. The soccer
players get into a groove and kick to the rhythms of
the chant. The cops stop as they approach the soccer
game. After 10 minutes of standing, a commanding
officer recalls the battalion and they retreat to a
waiting private bus. Wild cheers and drumming explodes
as protesters wave the cops goodbye. The soccer game
goes on, uninterrupted.
This is typical here. Ordinary people facing
extraordinary circumstances using creative means to
achieve a common end was the force and inspiration at
every intersection blocked today by the thousands of
activists who participated in the actions of civil
disobedience. And it will continue tomorrow. More
democracy. More fun.


"Be light as a bird, not as a feather." -- Valry

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Date: Sun, 16 Apr 2000 19:45:05 -0400        
From: "Max B. Sawicky" <>
Subject: Sunday

     [orig to <>; orig subject 
      'Saturday' later corrected by MBS]

Just back from the festivities.  I have no idea
if or how the WB/IMF proceedings have been affected.
It was quite clear, however, that downtown D.C. was
shut down.  For the convenience of the WB/IMF, the
police blocked off a huge area in the heart of
downtown.  There were few cars to be seen on the
fringes of the IMF zone, almost all stores shut
down.  The "Delhi Deli" near Pennsylvania and
20th did a great business.          

I got off at Farragut North metro like I do
every day, but this time headed to where I
saw people.  I found myself surrounded by
kids lying all over the sidewalk in black,
bandanas, combat boots, gas masks, piercings,
tatoos, radioactive hair colors, etc.           
I was in the middle of the Black Bloc.
We were on the frontier of the Forbidden     
City, cops lined up behind metal fencing         
that blocked the street.  After some
"The Good, the Bad, the Ugly" face-offs,
the mob started forming up, chanting           
"Our streets" and marching around the               
enclosed perimeter.  They looked like              
the desert creatures in Star Wars.                
Could have been a thousand or two,            
though more kept coming along the

Naturally I marched with them. It   
was either that or go the Ellipse
and hear some speaker droning on.          
I kept looking for Chuck0 but             
never saw him.

The march was uneventful.  Eventually        
we got to the Ellipse.  Very hot out            
there but dry.  Bumped into Tom Kruse 
through a mutual friend -- he's in
fine shape.  Met David McReynolds                
in the flesh, after corresponding   
with him over the net for a couple      
of years.

The Bloc seemed more stocked with                  
gear than political slogans.  More                
cultural than political on the surface,       
but clearly something with       
political implications.  In
general the demo was striking for
its perfect chaos of slogans and    
causes, all around the general   
theme of capitalism stinks. Some           
of the cadre groups were out there,       
but not as many as at other demos
I've been to, nor in much force.
YSA seemed to be doing good business.        
Lots of races/nationalities in the              
crowd, predominantly young.  A fair   
number of union types carrying    
Jobs with Justice signs.                         

The media coverage here has not been    
awful, in my view, though there
is not a lot of conveyance of the
content of the protests.  A lot of                 
the coverage has been gossipy stuff               
in the "Style" section.  Han Shan             
(an organizer) as teen heart-throb.

The coverage of today will look a
lot like Woodstock.  Little trace of
China/PNTR stuff.  To me the potential
of these two separate tracks to coalesce   
into something much more interesting      
gives them power even as separate things.
Regarding CC's comment about who will
'control' this, I would say that nobody      
will control 'it,' because there is no 'it.'    
But both the AFL affiliates and the non-
union types will evolve.  It won't be
your father's AFL-CIO anymore.                   

I think the week is already a success, regardless
of how the WB/IMF meetings are affected.
The WB and IMF are confirmed topics of

Tomorrow promises major disruption of         
downtown.  From what I could see there
are more than enough hardcore anarchists
to cause total mayhem.  Basically the
police are reduced to protecting the
meetings or protecting downtown from  
disruption.  All indications are that      
the meetings come first.  So they will    
end up looking stupid for that choice.
They may also have erred in shutting 
down the protestors HQ yesterday. It         
has given them time to regroup, I               
suspect.  Tomorrow . . .                


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