September 28, 2002
Cantonians join D.C. globalization protest
By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley Washington correspondent
WASHINGTON — Driving here all night through the rain, Paul Edward said he was in search of “enlightenment” as he
joined thousands of others to protest what they say are unfair government trade policies, exploitative multinational
corporations and a possible war with Iraq.
Edward, a 47-year-old musician, and several friends from Canton, pulled into the nation’s capital Friday morning to join a
protest effort aimed at disrupting the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
“I’m hoping for a day of enlightenment,” said Edward, gathered with his friends near a downtown park where police had hours earlier arrested 200 or more demonstrators protesting military action against Iraq.
Protesters have come from as far away as San Francisco to take part in marches, rallies and teach-ins during this weekend’s meetings that are being attended by finance ministers and central bankers from many points of the globe.
Decked out in leaves and other outlandish garb, the protesters pounded on drums or pumped signs declaring “No War in Iraq” and “Bust the Bank.” Some wore gas masks or used bandannas to obscure their faces.
A beefed-up police force reported more than 600 arrests on the first day of protests and were expecting many more demonstrators to throng the streets today and Sunday. Most of the arrests were for minor offenses such as demonstrating without a permit or blocking traffic.
However, authorities did charge some 65 people with rioting after windows were broken at a Citibank office and other clashes. Fire trucks were called to put out a few tires set ablaze on the outskirts of town. Police reported at least one person with minor injuries “but nothing major as far as I know,” District of Columbia police officer Tony O’Leary said.
“That’s so ridiculous, the arrests,” said Tiel Rainelli, a Canton resident who attends Kent State University. While concerned about protesters being arrested unnecessarily, she condemned lawbreaking that “makes us look disorganized.”
Getting arrested is “stupid,” added Gary Lori, also of Canton. “I believe most of the people here are honest,” he said.
But Lori added he would “love to see them (protesters) shut down the city and not let anyone go to work to make an
Andy Fink, of New Hagerstown, Ohio, said he came to Washington “mainly because individualism is dying. People have to wake up.” Like his friends from Canton, he was skeptical of going to war against Iraq. “I don’t agree with hardly anything that our leaders do,” he said.
Some in the group remarked that it’s possible President Bush could convince them of the need for action.
“I feel that we’ve alienated Saddam Hussein,” Lori said. “I don’t think it’s our business to remove a leader of another country.” Yet he indicated he could change his mind if Iraq attacks a neighbor or there is a “link to some terrorist activity.”
In Washington’s historic Georgetown later in the day, protesters from San Francisco stripped to their underwear to make a case against the Gap store as police wearing helmets and protective vests stood by.
Standing atop a large redwood stump across the street from a Gap store, Mary Bull invited fellow demonstrators to join her and “strip for workers’ rights.” Calling out to a police officer, she asked, “Captain, can we strip all the way?” He shook his head. “So just do what your conscience lets you do,” she continued.
A dozen protesters chanted “We’d rather wear nothing than wear Gap” as they climbed onto the stump, which Bull said
was transported from California in a “vegetable-powered diesel truck.”
The group called on the Gap to close overseas factories that it alleges are sweatshops. The protesters also wanted the
Fisher family, a major stockholder in the clothing chain, to stop logging in northern California’s redwood forests.
“Our No. 1 goal is to redefine American patriotism,” said one of the organizers who identified himself only as Griffin,
which he said is neither his first name nor his last.
Onlooker Mary Meyer, who interrupted her shopping to watch, recalled the Vietnam War protests.
That “was huge,” she said. “This is more subtle, I think.”
Meyer said she sympathizes with the protesters.
“I think corporate greed is a big problem,” she said. “I don’t want to see us go to war.”