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NYC Braces for Possible Summit Violence

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo NYC Braces for Possible Summit Violence Wed Jan 30, 5:40 PM ET ABCNEWS.com - Groups
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 30, 2002
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      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      NYC Braces for Possible Summit Violence

      Wed Jan 30, 5:40 PM ET

      ABCNEWS.com

      - Groups planning protests against the World Economic Forum
      that kicks off Thursday in New York say they will wear a
      different face from the ones seen in violent confrontations
      in the past, and police say that's fine, as long as the face
      they wear is their own.

      Even if the thousands of demonstrators who are expected to
      come to the city to protest during the five-day summit of
      some 3,000 international business leaders do not turn to
      destruction of property or initiate confrontations with
      police in an effort to halt the WEF meetings, they could
      still find themselves in conflict with law enforcers.

      At issue could be a 19th century New York City law barring
      demonstrators from wearing masks. Many of the anarchist and
      anti-globalization groups say their protests will come in
      the form of "street theater" involving costumes and
      performances to dramatize what they say are the negative
      effects multinational corporations have on the world's
      poorest nations and the environment.

      The WEF decided in November to move its meeting from the ski
      resort town of Davos, Switzerland, where it was scheduled to
      be held, to New York, as a sign of solidarity with the city
      in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks that
      destroyed the World Trade Center.

      The tone of the forum should be different, too, organizers
      say, with the focus more on social issues and what business
      leaders can contribute to creating a safer, more harmonious
      world. Representatives of groups that are often in conflict
      with multinational corporations over environmental or human
      rights issues have been invited to attend, and 43 religious
      leaders are expected this year, up from 17 last year.

      A WEF spokesman admitted, though, that if being in New York
      makes demonstrators less likely to resort to the kind of
      violence that shut down a World Trade Organization meeting
      in Seattle in 1999, and disrupted a WEF gathering in
      Melbourne, Australia, in 2000, and a G-8 meeting in Genoa,
      Italy, in 2001, because of the mood of the city, that's all
      to the good.

      "Frankly, our hope is — to put this in more positive terms —
      that New Yorkers will, I think, probably not welcome
      violence and disruption in the current climate and we expect
      hopefully we'll have a very peaceful meeting here," WEF
      spokesman Charles McLean said.

      ‘We’re Going to Enforce the Law’

      Thousands of demonstrators are expected to converge on New
      York, and the police department is mobilizing 4,000 officers
      to try to maintain order in the area around the
      Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan, where the
      conference will be based. Several blocks around the posh
      hotel will closed to vehicles, and there will be traffic
      checkpoints with bomb-sniffing dogs to search vehicles.

      "We're going to enforce the law," New York Police Department
      Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "We hope these demonstrations
      are going to go forward peacefully, but we're prepared to
      enforce the law and take swift action."

      The NYPD carried out training exercises for thousands of
      officers at Shea Stadium, practicing mass arrests and crowd
      control.

      "We know that we are in very good hands and we have seen
      that the authorities certainly take the necessary measures,"
      WEF founder and president Klaus Schwab said.

      A Message for the ‘Rich Folks’

      Leaders of various groups planning demonstrations say they
      don't want violence either, all they want is to get across
      their message decrying evils of globalization.

      "Because of September 11, because there's a sense that no
      one wants some kind of catastrophe, there's going to be
      restraint and that, more than some people think, in the end,
      the focus is going to be on the message," said Larry Holmes
      of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

      "Our biggest message will be to tell those rich folks who
      really are the secret government of the world that people
      need money for jobs and human needs, not war, and certainly
      not to make them any richer," Holmes said.

      If the groups opposed to the WEF are saying they want to
      present a less confrontational face at this gathering, some
      attendees of the conference say the focus of this year's
      meetings will be more on social responsibility than it has
      been in the past — and those outside the swanky hotel should
      take notice.

      "When you look at the program and you look at the content
      and the context, I think people should think about how they
      can work together and worry less about what sign they carry
      but how do we peacefully coexist and improve the quality of
      existence," WEF board member Donna Redel said.

      Despite a WEF meeting that includes programs with titles
      like "Bridging Divides: Necessary Next Steps," "Global
      Action to Bridge Economic and Social Divides," and "Building
      a Coalition for a Stable World: Who Will Share in the
      Burden," and invited representatives from such organizations
      as Amnesty International and Greenpeace, the group's
      opponents say there is no reason to believe there has been
      any substantive change in its goals.

      "The WEF is a living symbol of political and business
      leaders scratching each others' backs, proclaiming that
      they're meeting to solve the world's problems while in
      reality they're looking for ways to enrich each other,"
      Another World Is Possible spokesman Eric Laursen said.

      --
      Dan Clore
      mailto:clore@...

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