Bush Administration Raises Stakes

Yellow Times
September 30, 2002

In recent days, disenchanted citizens across the world are demonstrating against the policies of the Bush Administration. After months of silence following the September 11 attacks, the anti-globalization effort has been revitalized. In cities across the United States, concerned Americans are speaking out against policies of the Bush Administration; they claim these policies cause unnecessary death and destruction in countries that the Administration accuses of terrorism.

Demonstrators feel they cannot support the "collateral damage" that will develop if the Bush Administration attacks Iraq. These concerned citizens make reference to the damage brought to Afghanistan, where thousands of innocent Afghanis were murdered by stray U.S. missiles and bombs, along with unexploded cluster bomblets; these bomblets are spread throughout the Afghani landscape and act as quasi-landmines.

On Friday, September 27, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meeting in Washington D.C. met mass protests from individuals who consider the Fund to be a tool of Washington in creating economic slavery for poor nations whose economies are dependent on IMF loans. According to D.C. law enforcement figures, 2,000 people demonstrated and 649 of them were arrested.

Some of those arrested threw rocks at law enforcement; however, the bulk of the arrests were for non-violent charges such as: "failure to obey a lawful order," "participating in a riot," and "parading without a permit." According to the Independent Media Center (http://www.IndyMedia.org), one religious group was arrested for "obstructing a sidewalk."

Witnesses explained that D.C. police would surround a group of non- violent demonstrators, converge on them, and then arrest every person present. The high levels of arrests were very unusual for a largely non-violent demonstration. Using U.S. law enforcement's own numbers, about 33 percent of all people protesting were arrested.

Friday's actions by law enforcement sent a message to those who plan on publicly showing their objections to the Bush Administration and their control of the International Monetary Fund.

On Saturday, September 28, the protests continued despite the threat of more arrests. CNN reported that only 300 people protested that Saturday afternoon. The Independent Media Center claimed that while only 300 to 400 people marched from the U.S. Treasury to the Washington Monument, a total of 7,500 people were in the streets in Washington D.C. protesting the International Monetary Fund and the Bush Administration, accused of neo-liberal economic policies that prevent global justice and democracy. Sharply contrasting with the previous day, the police only arrested five people on Saturday.

Washington D.C. was not the only city where protestors spoke out against what they consider injustice. In London and Rome, anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets protesting the proposed U.S. and British assault on Iraq. The number of demonstrators at these events far outnumbered those demonstrating in the United States, showing yet another example of the recent shift in peace activism from the United States to Europe.

According to official police figures, 150,000 people marched in London against Prime Minister Tony Blair's support for President Bush's plans of attacking Iraq. London protest leaders claimed that the actual number of protesters were around 300,000.

In Rome, protest organizers said that 100,000 people marched against President Bush's policies and their government's acceptance of them.

On Sunday, September 29, the protests continued in Washington D.C., as 2,500 people marched toward Vice President Dick Cheney's residence, according to police figures.

The U.S. government response to these major protests, the first since the days before September 11, 2001, offer an uncertain future for demonstrators. U.S. military and government personnel were seen monitoring the protests; they were videotaping groups of demonstrators and snapping close up pictures of individual faces.

These strict measures may be a sign from the Bush Administration that demonstrations will be met with fierce government resistance. By arresting over 30 percent of protesters on Friday, along with scaring others by having the military film and gather intelligence on citizens merely exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly, the Bush Administration is increasing the risks for any citizen who disagrees with government policy.

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