U.S. Rallies Echo Prague Protests
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Demonstrators marched through downtown Tuesday, one of several U.S. rallies held in sympathy with protests in the Czech Republic against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
In many places, demonstrators targeted companies for allegedly ignoring workers’ rights. In Hartford, 300 people demonstrated to accuse United Technologies Corp. of allowing subcontractors to pay low wages to janitors.
``Everyone deserves dignity and a living wage,″ said Jeff Klein, a student at Wesleyan University. About 20 people were arrested.
In Washington D.C., 35 people were arrested after blocking a downtown street.
In Prague, thousands of people demonstrated outside the IMF and World Bank summit, throwing firebombs as police responded with clubs and tear gas. Dozens were injured.
The protesters say economic globalization helps the rich get richer at the expense of the poor and the environment. Top officials with IMF and World Bank insist they are major providers of economic assistance and development loans.
Rallies in the Boston area were aimed at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Activists accuse Pfizer of profiting on its AIDS drugs even as infection rates rise in Africa and other developing countries.
``My country is being destroyed by AIDS, my country is sinking under the weight of debt,″ said the Rev. Tsitsi Moyo of Zimbabwe. ``If the debt is not canceled, if AIDS is not curtailed there is no hope for my country.″
In Portland, Ore., about 80 people marched through downtown. Fifteen protesters were arrested after a police officer was assaulted and an anarchist symbol was painted on a billboard, according to Lt. Mike Hefley, a police spokesman.
Most were charged with interfering with a police officer.
At one point, about a dozen protesters sat in a line in front of police in riot gear. Officers removed them.
``We just want peace against the brutality, the harassment, the animal cruelty, we have a right to be here. We didn’t bring any weapons or anything,″ said Brandy Carroll, 16.
In San Francisco, roughly 100 protesters gathered downtown, chanting rhymes and carrying signs and banners including one that read, ``Citi Bank: Rainforest Destroyer.″
Protests also were held in Denver and Indianapolis, where about 20 people gathered outside a Citigroup bank to protest Salomon Smith Barney’s underwriting of World Bank bonds.