DC Police Ready for IMF Protests
Apr. 07, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Police in the nation's capital said Friday they are ready to deal with any disruptions protesters may cause at the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
Beginning Sunday, all District of Columbia police officers will work 12-hour shifts. Official events associated with the financial organizations begin Wednesday, with the major business sessions scheduled the following Sunday and Monday.
``They ain't burning our city like they did Seattle,'' said Chief Charles Ramsey of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.
Since January, members of the district's 3,520 police force have trained to prevent a repeat of the violence and property damage that wracked Seattle during World Trade Organization meetings four months ago.
By Monday, an estimated 1,500 officers will have completed an intensive one-day training course in crowd- and riot-control techniques. Ramsey was part of the first group of 60 officers to take the course at a police facility in Lorton, Va. He described it as one of the most comprehensive learning sessions of his 30-year law enforcement career.
``They didn't know what to expect in Seattle,'' said Ramsey, adding that his department is prepared to face an estimated 30,000 protesters without stripping the city's seven police districts of protection.
Law enforcement agencies have identified 73 Internet World Wide Web sites that are promoting demonstrations associated with the Washington meetings. Many organizers have stressed nonviolence, but acts of civil disobedience are expected to include efforts to block meeting sites and routes from hotels that will be used by the delegates.
Many of the meetings are taking place in an area home to law and professional services offices, banks and financial institutions in the Farragut Square area just west of the White House.
``The closer (the demonstrators) are to the IMF and World Bank buildings, the more likely their business will be disrupted,'' Ramsey said.
The State Department has granted temporary diplomatic status to both the IMF and World Bank. That means any attempt to disrupt activities or destroy property at those locations would draw a response from the U.S. Secret Service.
``Anything that occurs on district streets will be our responsibility,'' said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman. More than $1 million has been spent on new helmets, shin guards and glove guards to protect officers assigned to crowd-control duties. Some officers also will be equipped with shotguns capable of firing rubber bullets, police said.
District officials have identified several locations where protestors might be temporarily detained, said Peter LaPorte, director of the district's Office of Emergency Management. He would give no details.
Police departments in northern Virginia and suburban Maryland also will be available to help, and federal law enforcement agencies are increasing security around parks and museums on the National Mall and at Capitol.
The largest demonstrations are planned next Sunday and Monday across from the White House at Lafayette Park and on the Ellipse just south of the White House. The U.S. Park Police have brought in additional personnel from San Francisco and New York for assignment at those locations.
``We've been training our horse-mounted patrol, along with our SWAT team and our regular uniform patrol,'' said Sgt. Robert MacLean, a park police spokesman.