One hundred thousand advocates for peace and justice converged on Washington, D.C. in late April for several days of complimentary mobilizations against corporate globalization at the World Bank; in support of Palestinian self-determination and the end of Israeli occupation; and calling for an end to the military Plan Colombia and closing of the "School of the Americas" foreign military training academy at Fort Benning.
Buoyed by the strength of such numbers, the prevailing mood reported was of joyous dissent and determined opposition, absent the fractious confrontations that have punctuated recent mass protests. Arrests were reported on three occasions.
During rush hour Friday, April 19, more than 100 bicyclists embarked on a "Bike to Fight State Terror" from a rally to shut down the School of the Americas (SOA) being held near the Capitol. Police followed the cyclists for some time, and at 21st and L Streets they moved in, encircling dozens in the intersection. Forty-one people were cited for "failure to obey a lawful order" and released.
The next evening, after the largest marches united advocates for the economically and militarily oppressed around the world, 25 activists were cited for unlawful entry in a parking garage as they regrouped to eat and depart.
On Monday, April 22, three thousand people defied scattered showers and the presence of hundreds of police on horseback, bicycle, cars and foot to join the unpermitted Colombia Mobilization march from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol. The march flowed past barricades towards Upper Senate Park for a permitted rally. Small groups nonviolently blocked two main driveway entrances to the Capitol, appealing to Congress to block aid for the reign of terror in Colombia that has now claimed some 40,000 lives, and to close a leading terrorist training site in the U.S.: the School of the Americas/ Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Police arrested 37 people for obstructing traffic, and all were released by the next evening. Charges were eventually dismissed for all but the Rainbow Revolutionaries women's affinity group, whose trial began July 17.
SEATTLE SUPPORT ACTION
Opponents of war and the World Bank/International Monetary Fund also joined forces in Seattle on April 20. Wake Up Seattle organized a morning protest against the "war on terrorism" and U.S. military support for Israel. Later, anti-war marchers joined demonstrators from a globalization teach-in at Seattle Central Community College.
At the intersection of Broadway and Thomas, an advance group of protesters quickly erected a tripod and suspended a woman from its apex, creating a visible blockade not quickly removed. Climbers scaled the Bank of America and hung a large "Capitalism is Killing Us" banner over the bank's logo. The Infernal Noise Brigade, a "tactical mobile rhythmic unit" of brass, percussion, and noisemakers led hundreds of marchers in a street party of resistance. About an hour later, as soon as the tripod was safely lowered, police on bicycles rode into the crowd. Pepper spray followed and eventually the arrest of three people. All were released that night.
For more information, contact the Peace and Justice Alliance, (206)527-8050.