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Protestors of World Bank may come to Chicago

This article appeared on the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times print edition, Saturday, September 28, under the banner headlines "600 Arrested in D.C. - And They're Coming Here Next" followed by a sub head "Protesters who disrupted capital Friday expected in Chicago in November". The internet version is posted below.
Demonstrators lobbed smoke bombs and smashed office windows Friday on the opening day of international financial meetings in Washington as police officers from Chicago and other cities arrived to help protect the capital.

More than 600 people were arrested, with one protester suffering minor injuries, police said.

Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund attracted a grab bag of demonstrators. Some shouted slogans decrying corporate greed. Some warned against war with Iraq: One banner read, "Drop Bush, Not Bombs." Others lambasted the president's environmental policies.

A similar mix of protesters is expected Nov. 7 in Chicago when Boeing Co. will host the two-day TransAtlantic Business Dialogue conference, which will draw U.S. and European chief executive officers as well as Cabinet-level government officials to discuss trade.

The 300 Chicago police officers who flew to Washington with riot gear Friday are not only bolstering the capital's police force, but also are tuning up for the coming conference here, Chicago police spokesman David Bayless said.

The Chicago officers--who are off-duty and trained in crowd control and the use of gas masks--were invited by Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey, a former top Chicago police official who won high marks in April 2000 for his department's peaceful handling of similar protests that year, when about 1,300 were arrested.

The presence of Chicago police in Washington was first reported in Friday's Chicago Sun-Times.

The Chicago officers will be posted today at the Ellipse--a park adjacent to the White House, Bayless said. They will wear their uniforms but will don riot gear if the protests become violent, he said.

"We were able to do this without affecting our strength back home," Bayless said from Washington as he watched busloads of arrested protesters arriving at a facility to be booked.

Bayless said Chicago police have learned that the Trans- Atlantic Business Dialogue conference here will attract a "large-scale demonstration."

The group's conference in Stockholm, Sweden, was canceled last year because of public safety concerns after Sept. 11. Cincinnati police arrested about 50 protesters--spraying some with chemical irritant--at the group's meeting there in 2000.

"We support their right to come out and voice their differences as long as the city is unharmed and our participants are safe," said Jeff Werner of TransAtlantic Business Dialogue. He is based in Washington but was here Friday to plan for the event.

As part of their training, Chicago police have been viewing videotapes of protests in other cities, including Prague and Seattle--whose handling of demonstrators was widely criticized during a World Trade Organization meeting there.

"We're prepared for whatever happens in Chicago," Bayless said. "We hope we are overprepared."

In Washington, most of those arrested Friday were locked up for nonviolent crimes such as parading without a permit, blocking sidewalks and disobeying police orders. Some, however, threw smoke bombs and broke windows at a Citibank office in the capital's business district.

The World Bank and IMF meetings were cordoned off from protesters. Near the White House, several hundred demonstrators were arrested as they banged on drums and chanted. One arrested woman wore nothing but a sheet scrawled with anti-World Bank and IMF messages.

Emily Jacobi, 19, of Indianapolis said she decided to become a protester after witnessing poverty in Cuba on a trip there as a student journalist.

''I recognize that I'm a capitalist. I'm a consumer,'' said Jacobi, an international studies student at American University. ''But realize something. We're not here just to disrupt. We're not just bored kids with nothing better to do than cause trouble.''

Contributing: AP , Sun-Times wires



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