Thousands Rally Outside WEF
- News for Anarchists & Activists:
Thousands Rally Outside World Economic Forum
Sat Feb 2, 8:26 PM ET
By Larry Fine and Soo Youn
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of raucous demonstrators
rallied against globalization, war and corporate greed under
a heavy police watch on Saturday in a massive protest aimed
at the World Economic Forum that avoided the violence that
has marred similar past meetings.
As protesters marched more than a mile through midtown
Manhattan, wearing costumes, carrying signs and puppets,
making music and chanting slogans before finishing near the
WaldorfAstoria Hotel where the forum was being held, even
the police praised their peaceful conduct.
"They've been wonderful," police spokesman Kevin Czartoryski
said of the protesters.
Just seven people were arrested for disorderly conduct
during the march that drew more than 5,000 people, a police
spokesman said. Two others were arrested for disorderly
conduct at an earlier rally outside the hotel that drew
another estimated 3,000 demonstrators.
With more than 4,000 New York City police officers, U.S.
Secret Service agents and private security guards braced for
potential disruptions, the peaceful protests brought a sense
of great relief after the violence that brought the 1999
World Trade Organization summit in Seattle to a standstill.
Last year, Italian police shot and killed one demonstrator
shot at the G8 Summit in Genoa.
Phalanxes of police in riot gear kept the protectors a block
or more from the posh hotel where forum met, shielding the
attendees at the five-day gathering of the world's business
and political elite from the demonstrations outside.
The attendees included Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates,
Japanese Economic Minister Heizo Takenaka, Peruvian
President Alejandro Toledo and U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul
A "STRICTLY LEGAL" PROTEST
David Graeber of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence anarchists
group said protest leaders had decided on peaceful protests
in the taut, post-Sept. 11 atmosphere in New York.
"All the organizers agreed this would be strictly legal," he
Accompanied by dozens of officers on motorcycles, hundreds
of police on foot, and watched from above by three
low-flying police helicopters, the protesters marched and
danced through midtown under clear, chilly skies.
A mix of young students and older protest veterans, the
crowd waved signs reading "World Exploitation Forum" and
"End the War." Some carried a large burlap dragon on poles
that read, "The WEF is Dragon Us Down," and a giant papier
mache vulture wearing "WEF" on its breast as it perched atop
In a mood both festive and defiant, some protested corporate
globalization strategies, while others objected to the use
of low-paid labor in developing countries.
Kate Farmer, 53, a research scientist from Northampton,
Massachusetts, carried a sewing machine with a sign saying:
"22 cents an hour in Lesotho, Africa, sewing clothes for
"There are people now...being abused working in Taiwanese
sweatshops in Lesotho to make clothes for the Gap, Wal-Mart
and Kmart," she said.
TRAFFIC AT A STANDSTILL
Witnesses said one of those arrested was a young man who
refused to remove a gray bandanna covering his mouth, and
that an onlooker who questioned the arrest also was taken
into custody as protesters chanted "Let them go!"
Anarchists spokesman Graeber said police used undercover
officers to pick on some of the protesters at the march.
"They used snatch squads, cops who grabbed people for no
reason during the march, hoping someone would resist," he
said. "They are trying to create a climate of terror, of
fear and general intimidation."
Earlier protests during the five-day-long forum were far
smaller, with demonstrators heavily outnumbered by police,
who were hailed as local heroes in the wake of the Sept. 11
attacks that leveled the city's World Trade Center and
killed some 3,000 people.
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News for Anarchists & Activists:
"It's a political statement -- or, rather, an
*anti*-political statement. The symbol for *anarchy*!"
-- Batman, explaining the circle-A graffiti, in
_Detective Comics_ #608