World Bank/IMF Protest

25 Oct

This past Saturday (October 20),  I attended a protest outside the World Bank headquarters in DC with a group of fellow novo collegians.  After the protest had subsided, we were ambushed by a local news reporter, with whom my buddy James and I engaged in a brief interview.  Upon returning from DC the following Monday morning, we discovered that we had been (sloppily) quoted in the resulting news article/TV segment.  While the main problem with the article as it relates to us is just shoddy transcription, the video clips of James and I are so out of context, and so dishonestly introduced that I have bile squirting out of my tearducts. Notice that I’m defending the protesting left from claims that its ranks have dwindled since the protests surrounding NAFTA and the WTO in the mid-to-late 1990’s; the video clip that aired on the news introduces my comment as though it were suggesting precisely the opposite. The political agenda of the mainstream media couldn’t be more transparent.

The protest consisted of a march to a tribunal held in the park across the street from the World Bank headquarters.  Sandwiched between bouts of street dancing and slogan chanting, the tribunal featured representatives from El Salvador, India, Chad, Cambodia and the DC black community voicing their grievances against the neo-liberal policies that the World Bank globally promotes. Even though the event was planned and all appropriate permits were acquired, we arrived at the park to find upwards of 100 police officers and a SWAT team waiting for us behind a steel barricade.

And yet, every single fucking article I’ve seen about this event so far focuses *exclusively* on a brief and totally theatrical confrontation between a broken-off assembly of anarchists and the PD. The blurb I’m featured in didn’t event mention the tribunal or any of its notable contributors.
Quote:
Protests Continue; Critics Doubt Their SuccessPhotos by Kurt BrooksWASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) – A group of rowdy protesters splintered off from the few hundred that were demonstrating outside the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters to charge at police.The moments of tension suddenly peaked as outside officers were called in to break up the crowd that congregated near the intersection of 19th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Officers were shouting “back down!” Meanwhile, one demonstrator screamed back: “You are a disgrace to the country I serve!”The emotional outburst was not an organized effort according to James Birmingham, who drove here with a group of his friends from Florida to take on a cause they call paramount.”Free market capitalism creates exploitation around the world. And that’s the bottom line of it I guess,” he said.”I’d like to stress that the people who organize this event — that was an unorganized thing that did not have a permit, that some individuals or groups decided to do something on their own,” said Birmingham.The Saturday protests were a continuation of the Friday night mayhem on Georgetown streets. Demonstrators began their marches in the community on purpose because they claim the “affluence is ridiculous” and because that is where the international visitors stayed and dined. Around 10:30 violence reached a peak. One woman was bleeding after being struck in the face with a flying brick.Some critics blast that the demonstrations every weekend in the Capitol city are starting to blur together.”I think that people are protesting for the fact of protesting,” said Carolyn Cooper, a Falls Church resident who observed the demonstrations on Saturday. “It’s become something of a thing to do, where I don’t think half the people know the message that’s trying to be brought across so it’s sort of shallow now.”

Some media reports also compare the protests to famous events from the past, such as the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 in Seattle. The conference was overshadowed by large street protests. The negotiations had to be postponed as a result.

“A lot of times you’re going to see people criticize these protests on the ground, like ‘oh they get weaker and weaker all the time’ or ‘This didn’t get half the turn out it was supposed to,'” said Will Brown, an IMF/World Bank protestor who also traveled from Florida for this weekend’s events in D.C. “And you’ll get a complete different number about the turnout from the cops and from the activists and even the journalists in the community.”

“I think a lot of that comes from the fact that NAFTA was such a watershed event that all subsequent protests are compared to it and obviously they’re not going to be the same,” Brown said in defense of the protestors. “But we drove 20 hours from Florida just to come here and protest on behalf of the exploited both internationally and domestically and I think that should speak volumes about how much this really does affect everyone.”

Dozens of police officers were on-duty to prevent any chaos. Some argued it was a waste of taxpayer money as the protests started to fizzle early in the evening.

“For it to be 5:22 and everything seems to be over!” exclaimed Cooper. “I already talked to a police officer and he was like ‘I was wondering why there were so many police out because obviously we don’t need them on the clock now.'”

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