Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Police accuse four of carrying bombs near IMF

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) — Demonstrators protesting a possible U.S. attack on Iraq marched to Vice President Dick Cheney’s residence Sunday, a day after police charged four demonstrators with carrying nail bombs near a meeting of world financial leaders.

Despite the arrests of more than 650 people over the weekend, three days of protests by advocates of a wide range of causes turned out to be more low-key than feared, largely because of a heavy police presence.

Several hundred police on bicycles, motorbikes, horseback and on foot kept close watch over anti-war protesters who marched up Washington’s embassy row Sunday to the vice president’s residence to oppose military action against Iraq.

A crowd numbering a few thousand, according to organizers, stopped to cheer outside the embassies of Egypt, Japan and Turkey, reading quotes from those governments against a U.S. strike on Iraq.

Officials from the South African embassy stood on their balcony and waved to protesters as they passed. At the British embassy, four policemen holding batons encircled a statue of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The anti-war protests capped off a weekend of demonstrations timed to coincide with the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The Saturday demonstrations covered a variety of causes, from the fight against AIDS to canceling the debts of poor countries.

Sunday, the message was less mixed. Protesters drew slogans like “No Oil War” in colored chalk on the road outside Cheney’s residence.

“People are freaking out in this country,” said organizer Scott Lynch. “The poll numbers don’t really portray what people feel about this war.”

“People want to be aware, and we haven’t been allowed to be,” said Eleanor Seagraves, who has lived in Washington for 38 years. “They are not speaking to us as intelligent citizens, because they think they know it all already.”

All weekend, protesters remained fairly peaceful, but Washington, D.C., police officers rounded up four activists in an alley near the IMF and World Bank headquarters Saturday evening and said they found at least four coffee cans rigged with explosives in the protestors’ backpacks.

Officer Tony O’Leary, a police spokesman, said the coffee cans contained nails and blasting caps and that police also found smoke bombs in the protesters’ bags.

He said reports the protesters were only carrying fireworks had underestimated the threat.

“If you put in some blasting caps with a stick of fireworks you have some good damage potential,” O’Leary told Reuters. “In large crowds that could injure or kill someone.”

The protesters — two men and two women — have been charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, possession of implements of a crime and possession of Class A prohibited weapons. The accused have refused to identify themselves in jail, police said, and will be arraigned in court Monday.

“It is very difficult at this time to know why the materials were in their possession and what their intentions were,” O’Leary said.

Sirens split the silence in the Washington downtown core as police moved around the city in white unmarked vans, marked police cars, on horseback, motorcycles and bicycles.

Anti-capitalist activists demanding the abolition of the World Bank and IMF were quickly silenced Friday. Police arrested 649 of the 1,500 to 2,000 protesters who had advertised plans to block downtown traffic, mostly on charges of parading without a permit.

Several thousand protesters pounded drums, danced and waved tattered American flags as they marched Saturday from the Washington Monument past the U.S. Treasury.

Washington’s anti-war march Sunday followed large anti-Iraq war demonstrations in Rome and London over the weekend. Many protesters involved in IMF and World Bank actions also joined the anti-war demonstration.

“It’s all connected,” said activist Marla Ruzicka. “People who are concerned about how poor people are affected by the World Bank and IMF are also worried about what a war in Iraq means for us, both here in the States and the Middle East.”

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