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Why are they preparing for war against us in D.C.?

September 14, 2001 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,

From September 25 to October 2, thousands of people who care about the future of the world are coming to my home, Washington, D.C. In response, our mayor and police chief are rolling out a..."welcome" fence. They want to spend $38 million to shut us up and shut us out.

Though the District needs every cent it can get for housing, schools, and health care, they want to spend $1.8 million on a fence to surround a large chunk of central D.C. They want to spend $11 million for 3,000 law enforcement officers from Prince Georges County, New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York.

They want to spend $6.5 million for overtime and several million for riot gear and police buses--and they may want to rent RFK stadium to house demonstrators.

Why this unprecedented use of force? Let's ask Police Chief Ramsey. "Whatever takes place, we are going to keep control of these streets, and Washington, D.C., is not going to burn." Or ask Assistant Chief Terrance Gainer, who spoke of protesters wanting "revenge" after police killed Carlo Guiliani at July's G8 protest in Genoa. Mayor Williams predicted the protests "will be of an intensity, scope and magnitude that we have never seen in this city."

Listening to them, you'd think they were preparing war--and that the demonstrators must be dangerous rioters. Is this true?

Let's look at last year's April 16 protests against the IMF and World Bank. More than 20,000 demonstrators and less than 1,000 arrests--and a grand total of zero convictions.

So why are they preparing for war in the face of a demonstration that plans to be about peace and justice? As one activist said on the news: "They say they want to keep the peace, but they are taking steps to create violence."

Kenneth Tompkins, Washington, D.C.

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