More than 600 protestors arrested in D.C.

W By Patrick W. Higgins

U-WIRE Washington Bureau

wASHINGTON, Sept. 28 – More than 600 activists were arrested in the nation’s capital Friday as protestors clashed with police in scattered locations in downtown Washington, D.C. The arrests came after protestors committed minor acts of disorderly conduct in front of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund headquarters.

The demonstrations were the first in a weekend of planned civil disobedience which is expected to draw more than 20,000 people to the District.

The protestors stated plans to shut down the city on Friday by blocking traffic and clogging the Metro subway stations were thwarted by a police force of more than 3,000 on duty officers from both the District and outside departments.

Minor acts of property damage were reported by police, but most of the arrests were for misdemeanor charges against those who failed to comply with police orders. An unidentified demonstrator wearing a black bandana across his face, launched a smoke bomb and several rocks through the window of Citibank on Vermont and K, marking the most serious act of violence all day.

Twenty-one protestors were arrested for sitting down in the intersection of 14th and Independence Avenue, attempting to stop traffic near the IMF headquarters. Police in riot gear gave them two minutes to move before all 21 were taken into custody, including four people that chained themselves together.

Later in the day, 40 people were arrested after staging a march through the streets which left newspaper stands overturned, tires on fire and debris scattered across the streets. Police surrounded the group, which consisted of more than 300 people, and loaded those who failed to comply with police orders onto Metro buses. They were taken to a cellblock at D.C. Superior Court.

Most of those arrested will face minor charges of failing to obey a police order and disorderly conduct-but are being held in jail cells until Monday morning.

No serious injuries were reported. A 19-year old protestor was struck in face with a police baton, taken to George Washington University Hospital, treated and released with a bloody nose.

Responding to allegations of police brutality, D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey said, “There’s none of that going on here, we don’t really do that sort of thing,” continuing on to offer the phone number of the Metro police complaint department to any arrested person who wanted it.

In the Georgetown neighborhood of the city, 300 demonstrators gathered in front of a Gap store to protest against the company’s alleged use of sweatshops. They said that they would rather wear nothing than wear Gap clothes — and stripped down to their underwear. No arrests were made because protestors had arranged their demonstration with police beforehand.

The World Bank/IMF protests are becoming a semi-annual event for the District, as crowds gather every fall and spring for the organizations planned meetings. The protests are usually peaceful with minimal arrests, but this weekend marked the introduction of a new strategy by the D.C. Metro Police.

Protestors were followed and then quarantined into a small area by a line of police on foot, horseback and bicycle. Those who failed to follow specific police orders or those who attempted to leave the quarantined area were handcuffed, placed on a bus and taken to a police location for processing.

Despite warnings all last week about heavy traffic and a near impossible commute to locations in the District, traffic was lighter than usual, as was public transportation arteries. The easy ride into the city was due in part to most workers’ decision to just stay home for the day, heeding previous advice from city officials.