Security Cordon around Global Economic Meeting
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
Wednesday January 30 1:24 PM ET
Security Cordon Around Global Economic Meeting
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Streets closed, concrete barricades
blocked sidewalks and thousands of New York police officers
on Wednesday began guarding the plush venue for the World
Economic Forum gathering of top business, political and
The five-day meeting starting on Thursday at the
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is being tightly wrapped in a security
blanket in an effort to prevent violent street clashes
between police and protesters that have disrupted the annual
forum and other international conferences in recent years.
It is the first major global economic gathering since the
Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington
that killed more than 3,000 people and led to the United
States declaring war on terrorism. With as many as 2,700
political leaders and captains of industry gathered in one
place, safety measures are paramount, police and security
"Since Sept. 11 everyone's level of awareness has been
elevated ... and in light of that in light of the
performance of protesters in cities like Seattle, there is a
tremendous amount of strategy and planning to make sure
everyone is safe," said security expert Lou Palumbo,
director of the Elite Group private security firm. "There is
a tight security perimeter around the hotel. In the hotel,
weapons will not be permitted, everyone and their bags will
be screened for explosives."
Anti-globalization groups planning demonstrations at the
World Economic Forum have accused the police of exaggerating
possible violence by anarchists and others who view the
event as nothing more than a big cocktail party for the
Conflict resolution is the major theme to be discussed at
the forum under the slogan, "leadership in fragile times."
About half the participants include the world's top
corporate heads. Some 30 heads of state, 100 cabinet
ministers and 120 representatives of non-governmental
organizations will also attend the meeting. It was moved
from the Swiss resort town of Davos, where it has been held
for 31 years, in support of New York after the hijacked
The cordon went up around the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park
Avenue early on Wednesday with the involvement of New York
Police Department, the FBI (news - web sites), the U.S.
Secret Service, the diplomatic service and private security
within the hotel.
Even a U.S. citizen needed a passport to get to the sidewalk
in front of the Waldorf-Astoria.
Police used concrete and steel barricades, police vehicles
and gleaming white sanitation trucks filled with sand to
close about 10 blocks around the hotel. Half a dozen city
sanitation trucks parked across the street from the Waldorf
were moved out of the way for the occasional motorcade or
Officers stood guard outside the glass and concrete
buildings along Park Avenue next to the gilded old hotel --
a slice of prime midtown Manhattan real estate dense with
hotels, shops and restaurants, major banks and other
Publisher Random House said it would close its 299 Park
Avenue offices next to the Waldorf on Friday because of the
heightened security. Employees said they had to present
their company identification card to police officers.
"It was fine. It made me feel better to be honest," employee
Sheila O'Shea said.
In the days leading up to the forum, the New York Police
Department and anti-globalization activists each launched
public relations campaigns to cast suspicion on the other.
Police vowed to crack down on any sign of violence and said
they would invoke an 1845 ordinance outlawing the wearing of
masks at political gatherings. Balaclavas have been favored
by some anti-globalization activists who wreaked havoc at
the 1999 World Trade Organization summit in Seattle and
other global events in Prague, Washington, Quebec City and
"We will not tolerate lawbreaking of any kind," New York
City Chief of Police Joseph Esposito said.
For their part, representatives of groups such as
Anti-Capitalist Convergence and Another World is Possible
accused police of raising fears to scare people away. They
said they planned only lawful demonstrations, which will
include a march on Saturday, street theater, music, dance
"Police ... are using all the disinformation they can to
frighten people away, to convince them that we're
dangerous," said Eric Laursen of Another World is Possible.
No one knows how many demonstrators might turn up in New
York, but estimates vary from a few thousands to tens of
thousands. Some protesters will instead attend an
alternative summit in Brazil and there will be teach-ins and
discussions around the city, including one at Columbia
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