Published at 11:04 AM on Monday, April 17, 2000 by Agence France-Presse
Monday Morning Rains Fail To Dampen IMF Protests
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Small numbers of demonstrators protesting the policies of the World Bank and the IMF clashed with police and National Guard on streets near the two organizations' headquarters early Monday.
A spokeswoman for the Washington DC police confirmed that in addition to Metropolitan Police, National Guard had been "deployed" on the streets, at the request of Mayor Anthony Williams. She declined to specify how many National Guard were participating in policing operations.
About one thousand demonstrators rallied on the Ellipse near the White House marching through the street to the beat of drums and chanting, "Whose streets? Our streets!"
At the start of the march, leaders shouted "arrestables in front, non-arrestables in back," but a cordon of mounted police were only watching and not breaking up the demonstration.
Earlier confrontations were not as peaceful.
In one incident, a block away from the IMF building at around 8:30 a.m. (1230 GMT), grey uniformed security personnel fired rubber bullets and what appeared to be pepper spray at demonstrators by who had attempted to block the path of a bus bringing delegates to the biannual IMF/World Bank meeting.
At least three demonstrators were vomiting and calling for medical assistance as other demonstrators brought them water.
In a separate incident shortly after, police in civilian clothes wrestled demonstrators to the ground before handcuffing them with plastic strips and taking them to a waiting bus.
Other demonstrators who had watched the scene and offered passive resistance to the police were likewise handcuffed and bused away under arrest.
Earlier Monday, pepper spray was used against a small group of protestors who attempted to block the path of a police van close to the IMF building, and in a separate incident tear gas was used when a protestor lay in the road in front of a police car, NBC reported.
Washington police chief Charles Ramsey said he hoped the drenching rain falling on the US capital -- in contrast to the bright sunshine that had warmed thousands of protestors on Sunday -- would discourage any sizeable turnout.
By 6:45 a.m. (1145 GMT) all the delegates to the IMF and World Bank meeting had been bussed into the building without problem, Ramsey told NBC.
Police believed that several busloads of protestors had left the city late Sunday, he added.
Police were supervising access to the IMF and World Bank buildings for employees and reporters, and as a precautionary measure federal employees working in the area affected by Sunday's demonstrations were given the day off.
A spokeswoman for the World Bank said the schedule for meetings had been moved up, giving delegates and early start to avoid possible problems with access to the building.
She said delegates began a working breakfast at 6:30 a.m. (1130 GMT), with a discussion of the impact of AIDS on poorer nations featuring high on Monday's agenda.
In Sunday protests coordinated by the Mobilization for Global Justice, between 6,000 and 10,000 demonstrators blocked approaches to the buildings but did not prevent the bi-annual meeting of the World Bank and the IMF from going ahead.
Sunday's protests were generally peaceful, but there were a number of isolated skirmishes between police and protesters, with some 20 people being arrested over the course of the day. This compared with more than 600 arrests on Saturday.
About a dozen demonstrators were slightly injured and one press photographer was hospitalized with a head injury Sunday.