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Carnival Against Capitalism Shuts Down Early

20 April 01-- The threat of riot police coming through the neighborhood where the Carnival Against Capitalism was located caused it to shut down after about two hours yesterday.
20 April 01—The Carnival Against Capitalism, a well-publicized event organized by CLAC/CASA, voluntarily shut down early yesterday when the line of police confronting protesters near the security perimeter threatened to move through the Carnival area.

The Carnival consisted of Green Bloc demonstrators, who self-selected to be part of only non-violent, non-confrontational, and festive actions. The Carnival was all those things: under remnants of the toilet paper thrown over the fence and into the trees at the perimeter on April 19, a crowd of more the 500 people wandered on Rue St-Jean just east of the security fence. A few businesses allow people to paint murals on their boarded up windows, and political graffiti covered the streets. Several youth danced happily to reggae, hiphop, rave music and fast tempoed drum circles.

One woman danced through the crowd wearing a clown nose, sunglasses, and blue glitter. She waved a rainbow-colored feather duster, and cried, “We’re going to break it down!” happily. Calling herself Unruly Mob Goblin, she said,“The wall is a hologram,” and that she had come to dust away negativity and anger with her feather duster and replace it with hope, joy, and love.

Although the Carnival presented no confrontation to the security perimeter or the meetings happening inside, an undercurrent of tension seemed to run through the crowd. Stories circulated about the protesters who had broken down a section of the wall a few blocks away, and people sought information about the status of the actions currently in progress at or inside the perimeter.

A small group of journalists debated Michael Reid and John Parker, two British men who worked for the Economist Magazine about the nature of free trade and its effects of the citizens of the countries who support it. The British journalists inside the fence defended NAFTA and the FTAA, stating that they believed that free trade was the only method by which Third World countries could escape poverty. The Canadian journalists outside the wall represented the same interests as the protesters, questioning whether the effects of NAFTA such as the lawsuits of corporations vs. companies would be extended once the FTAA is in place. The four journalists also debated the value of people's movements, as in the case of the Zapatistas.

The access point at the corner of St-Jean and Rue St. Augustin was locked; a security guard stated that this was due to “trouble elsewhere,” but also said he didn’t know the nature of the situation. All of the planned access points into the secured area were closed, although he told a crowd seeing entry to go to the farthest west access point, located in the Old City.

The Carnival ran from 3PM to 5PM, when an announcement was made via the music truck’s PA system that police lines were getting close to Rue St-Jean. People began to slowly disperse. According to the truck’s announcement, the Carnival was going to move to a safer location with hopes of reconvening in the original area later that night.

Within a few hours of the shutting down of the Carnival, the police line had moved past St Jean and then farther south. There was no re-convergence of carnival Green Bloc partiers last night. None is expected today.



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