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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Thousands of demonstrators peacefully protesting globalization, U.S. policy on the Mideast and other issues spread out at sites across the capital Saturday as police officers stood watch.
A 30-foot-tall Earth balloon carrying a ``For Sale″ sign was inflated across the street from the glass-and-chrome building where world financial powers gathered.
The different protests are ``all connected in the sense that it’s all part of how the world economic structure works,″ said 24-year-old Brad Duncan of Detroit. He was among a group of demonstrators headed first for a Palestinian solidarity march and then to a rally against international financial policy.
Scores of officers holding wooden batons stood outside the buildings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which are holding their spring meetings this weekend. Officers wore patrol uniforms, but many carried large black bags full of riot gear.
``What we have to do is make sure the groups don’t go at each other and wind up with someone getting harmed,″ Police Chief Charles Ramsey said.
Across the street from the barricaded IMF and World Bank, 22-year-old Rob Fish of New Jersey complained, ``It’s becoming a global doomsday economy. The planet is not for sale.″
Bob Veith, who came with a group from Madison, Wis., said he wanted to draw attention to opposition movements across the country.
``I’m just hoping people will say, ’Oh, there is some opposition,‴ said Veith, 71.
Bryanna Mantilla, 18, from Olney, Md., said she came to peacefully protest globalization and the war on drugs. As for the heavy police presence, she said: ``They’re here doing their job and we’re here doing our job.″
At a rally against Israel’s action in the West Bank, protesters were admonished to exercise restraint.
``This is a peaceful rally,″ said Mahdi Bray of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. ``If people came for something else, they should go somewhere else.″
Demonstrators were protesting the war in Afghanistan, U.S. aid to Israel and Colombia, and third world debt and poverty.
About 100 people gathered on the National Mall to show their support of U.S. policies. Some carried signs that said ``Peace through superior fire power.″ Bill Bonach of Harrisburg, Pa., said he was sorry that the crowd was not bigger for the ``Patriot’s Rally.″
``What amazes me is how they are able to gather such large crowds,″ Bonach said, pointing to thousands nearby demonstrating against American policies.
At a pro-Palestinian rally on the grassy Ellipse behind the White House, Teresa Gutierrez of the International Action Center told protesters, ``We are all Palestinians today.″
Kanaan Jadallah, an Arab-American who came with his family from Detroit, argued against Bush administration support of Israel, saying that U.S. policy ``is why Israel is able to carry out these atrocities″ in the West Bank.
Although the protests took place all around the White House, President Bush missed the scene. He was spending the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.
On the Net:
World Bank: http://www.worldbank.org
International Monetary Fund: http://www.imf.org