A Tremendous Protest in Washington, DC

Published: Wed 19 Apr 2000 04:15 PM
A Tremendous Protest in Washington, DC
by Dada Maheshvarananda
Its hard to start a revolution so early in the morning! At 6:00 AM, long before sunrise, the protesters were supposed to gather at three different parks located around the target points, the IMF and World Bank buildings. At Rock Creek Park, only 15 made it by then, but later more groups straggled in. A small group of American Indians began drumming and chanting at 6:15 to raise everyone's spirits. Three more affinity groups assembled there: the first, a group of 20 moved out even before the scheduled departure time at 6:30. A group of 30 black clad and masked anarchists was also there.
The most creative was a beautifully-dressed group of more than 80 "sharks". Half of them were dressed in gray tuxedos, all had rubber noses that looked like the mouth of a shark, and a paper hat that resembled a shark's fin. A sign taped to their back said "Stop the loan sharks at the IMF/World Bank." Some without costumes walked in front holding on sticks small signs shaped like fish that said "Justice", "Autonomy", "Education", "Freedom" that were being "chased" by the sharks. They were led by "The Hungry Marching Band" with trumpet, trombone and two drummers.
Bicycle couriers and cell phones kept the group leaders informed at which intersections the police in riot gear were lined up, waiting. The band's music and the protesters' chants helped to keep their spirits up and their nervousness down as they walked down the streets towards impending arrest.
Cheers went up when they encountered other affinity groups at different intersections. The police had set up barriers on all the streets around the buildings and many other parts of the city to let authorized vehicles in and keep protesters out. The activists linked arms just in front of those lines to block all access and await probable arrest. A few more dedicated ones had "sleeping dragons": large pieces of PVC plastic pipe with iron rods inserted in the center to which their hands were chained, so they could not be seperated until the police bring tools to cut them out.
There were a total of more than 25 human barricades. Several times the police tried to break up the demonstrators and started to hit with their nightsticks. The others ran to support and pointing their fingers chanted "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
I watched one private car leave the White House grounds through the police line and slowly slamm right through the backs of the protesters with linked arms. It accelerated as protesters caught on the car's hood fell off to either side. Miraculously nobody was seriously injured. One black man with a cut hand leaped up and standing before the line of his affinity group shouted, "Is anyone here going to be intimidated by that kind of bullshit?" and then led his group in chants making them more determined than ever.
As the sun came out, the crowds of protesters continued to thicken until more than 10,000 were celebrating in the streets. The favorite chants were: "Hey, hey, ho, ho, IMF has got to go!", "Whose streets? Our streets!", "This is what democracy looks like!", "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" and, in front of a procession of giant puppets depicting the exploitation of Mother Earth by the banking institutions, "We want puppets, not a puppet government!"
As Steve Danaher of Global Exchange explained, "The young people have redefined the concept of political party. From a dry, old institution, they've made it into a real party, with music and puppets and dance and theater!"
The IMF and World Bank proudly announced to the world's media that they succeeded their annual meetings. But how? Only skeleten staffs attended, most of whom slept in the buildings the night before. The police drove in a few buses of delegates and journalists through the White House grounds at 9:00AM before the protesters discovered and closed that entrance, too.
More than 40,000 people attended the giant rally on the Ellipse behind the White House, and then in a huge procession down designated streets. Forty organizations including Proutist Universal had tables with their literature.
The main goal of the protests was achieved: to raise the consciousness of the people in the US and around the world about the exploitation of the IMF and the World Bank. Every person present represented hundreds in the Third World who are being impoverished and exploited by these undemocratic, unaccountable institutions designed to benefit the transnational corporations and the super rich.
Everyone who was present will never forget these days of solidarity and resistance. And the movement is growing.
AUTHOR NOTE: Dada Maheshvarananda Proutist Universal 7627 16th St. NW Washington, DC 20012-1405 Tel. (202) 829-2278 Fax. (202) 829-0462 Email:

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