>THE PROTEST BUSH AND THE COPS COULDN'T STOP
>By Gary Wilson
>Chicago Mayor Richard Daley famously said of the police riot
>that disrupted the Democratic Convention in 1968 that the
>police are there "to preserve disorder."
>Something similar might be said of police in Washington
>preserving the disorder known as the unelected presidency of
>George W. Bush.
>The Washington police have conspired with the incoming Bush
>administration to use all their powers to try to stop
>demonstrators from voicing their opposition along the
>inaugural parade route Jan. 20.
>There is no doubt that tens of thousands will show up at the
>inauguration parade to protest the incoming Bush
>administration. They will come from Washington itself and
>they will come from around the country on buses, trains,
>planes and automobiles.
>Jan. 20 will see the biggest counter-inaugural demonstration
>since the second criminal administration of Richard Nixon
>took office in 1973.
>The overwhelming tide of demonstrators that is heading for
>Washington forced the police to finally grant permits for
>the mass protests.
>For months the police had worked in secret with the Bush
>inauguration committee to defy the law and not grant permits
>to the demonstrators. When it became clear that tens of
>thousands were coming to demonstrate whether or not a permit
>was issued, the police admitted that the legal permits for
>several sites claimed by the Bush inauguration committee in
>fact legally belonged to counter-inauguration protesters.
>However, police attempts to block the protest did not stop
>after publicly issuing the permits to protesters. Rather,
>the tactic changed.
>Police instead announced that for the first time in over 200
>years police checkpoints would be set up to approve people
>and signs entering the mall area of Washington.
>Protest organizers are challenging this attempt to set up a
>mini police state to prevent protesters from being seen and
>heard along the inaugural parade route.
>Workers World talked with several top organizers of the
>counter-inaugural protest at the International Action
>Center. From these interviews it is possible to get an
>inside picture of the events that led up to the Jan. 20
>protests and the biggest government effort in decades to
>block political protests in Washington.
>Those who were interviewed include Teresa Gutierrez, co-
>director of the IAC and a central figure in the progressive
>coalition organizing the Jan. 20 demonstrations. Gutierrez
>heads the U.S. Out of Colombia Committee, a nationwide
>organization that opposes the U.S. military buildup, begun
>by the Clinton administration, which threatens to open a new
>Vietnam-type war in Colombia.
>One aspect of the protests that Gutierrez has been focusing
>on is defending the rights of undocumented immigrant workers
>who are being threatened if they join the protests.
>"The Bush administration thinks it's okay for undocumented
>workers to come to Washington to cook their food and tend
>their gardens, but not to protest," she said.
>WW also interviewed the two IAC representatives who met with
>the police on Jan. 9 when the permits were finally issued:
>Larry Holmes and Brian Becker.
>Holmes and Becker are also co-directors of the IAC, and both
>are veterans of past political demonstrations in Washington.
>Both, like Gutierrez, were arrested last April 15 in
>Washington, when the police rounded up almost 700 anti-death-
>penalty protesters the day before planned demonstrations
>against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The
>illegal arrests were an attempt to intimidate and prevent
>the anti-IMF actions.
>The picture that emerges from the interviews, reports in the
>Washington Post and public statements by the police is that
>something similar is being attempted this time.
>Some of the protest organizers call this the post-Seattle
>strategy. That is, ever since the new protest movement
>against the oppression and destruction wrought by global
>capitalism emerged in Seattle in December 1999, the police
>have adopted a strategy toward demonstrations that is on the
>borderline of constitutionality.
>This strategy was seen in Washington in April and over the
>summer at the protests outside the Republican and Democratic
>PROTEST PLANNED NO MATTER WHO WON
>The struggle for the counter-inaugural protest started three
>months ago, on Oct. 6. That's when the IAC applied for
>permits for three protest sites at the Jan. 20 inauguration.
>The focus of the protest was to show opposition to the death
>penalty and support for a new trial for political prisoner
>Mumia Abu-Jamal. Both George W. Bush and Al Gore support the
>death penalty, so it did not matter which one won.
>According to the federal law that covers protest permits for
>the District of Columbia, unless the permit is denied within
>24 hours the permit is automatically granted. Apparently the
>permit was granted at that time, but the police refused to
>In the meantime, a hard-right majority of the U.S. Supreme
>Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush, who had half
>a million fewer votes than Al Gore nationally. The high
>court did this by upholding the disenfranchisement of
>thousands of voters in Florida, particularly in the African
>These events changed the character of the demonstration. Not
>only would the protests at the inauguration draw tens of
>thousands, but there would be many more issues raised.
>Getting the permits became even more important. A broad
>sector of the population could be expected to join the
>protests: from the African American majority who live in
>Washington to union members across the country and all the
>rest who want to protest the illegitimate crowning of George
>Last April's events showed that the Washington police had
>adopted a new strategy of non-cooperation with
>demonstrations. Their refusal to acknowledge the permits
>appeared to be aimed at intimidating anyone thinking of
>going to the Jan. 20 protests. The TV images of police
>gassing and beating demonstrators last April might be enough
>to discourage a big turnout for the Jan. 20 protest.
>The police then started a campaign in the mass media to try
>to criminalize the Jan. 20 demonstrators. Police officials
>started talking about terrorist threats and violence.
>What they hadn't counted on was how deep and widespread the
>anger is with the incoming Bush administration. In fact,
>each passing day saw more groups and individuals joining the
>IAC's call for a demonstration. Each day the estimates of
>the protest's projected size rapidly increased.
>As it became clear that the police tactics weren't
>intimidating protesters, the police moved to grant the
>permits on Jan. 9.
>Many questions remained, however. What about the giant
>bleachers the police have already erected in the areas where
>protesters hold the permits? Also, with the announcement of
>police checkpoints to enter the area, what good are the
>permits if the protesters are not allowed access?
>Holding a permit is clearly not enough. The nearly 700
>protesters illegally arrested last April had a permit for
>their peaceful demonstration. Though there was no legal
>basis for the arrests and all the charges were later thrown
>out by the courts, the legalities did not stop the police
>from making mass arrests.
>The IAC began to publicize the many ways the police were
>attempting to deny the rights of counter-inauguration
>protesters. At a Jan. 9 news conference Holmes and Becker
>laid out many of these facts, joined by the IAC's lawyers
>from the Partnership for Civil Justice. The news conference
>was attended by the major media and broadcast on CNN and C-
>WASHINGTON POST ACTS AS POLICE PRESS AGENT
>The IAC offices in Washington and New York were flooded with
>thousands of calls of support. The next day, however, the
>Washington Post carried a front-page story that was
>practically a news release written by the Secret Service.
>Most of the story quoted the Secret Service on possible
>threats from terrorists carrying shoulder-held missile
>launchers. There were pictures of supposed Secret Service
>training for just such a possibility at the parade.
>The absurdity of implying that the legal protests were
>somehow a front for launching a missile attack on the White
>House only angered more people. An outraged worker at the
>Washington Post approached IAC organizers to let them know
>that the original front-page story had been about how
>protesters' rights were being denied. On orders from the
>top, that story was replaced with the one the Secret Service
>That story about protesters' rights has since been buried.
>But the Washington Post reports continue to read like they
>are dictated by top police officials.
>Then, on Jan. 16, the IAC went to court to try to protect
>the rights of all demonstrators. Organizers sought an order
>to have the bleachers and other obstructions removed so that
>the protests can be held peacefully--that is, without
>threats from the police.
>This includes removing the 16 checkpoints that will make
>getting into the inaugural parade area like Robin Hood
>having to get permission from the sheriff of Nottingham to
>pass through the checkpoint at the bridge over the moat
>surrounding the White House castle.
>Six of the checkpoints are reserved for an elite few who
>have paid high fees to the Bush inauguration committee for
>tickets. The other 10 checkpoints are supposed to handle the
>other half-million people expected at the parade, including
>demonstrators with permits.
>That means that each checkpoint will have to pass about
>50,000 people through each gate. The police indicate they
>may detain and search anyone carrying protest signs, banners
>The legal basis for this, they say, is a new law passed two
>years ago that gives the Secret Service emergency powers
>over the inauguration. Under this law, the police contend,
>they can do almost anything they want.
>The Secret Service has refused to meet with the IAC and has
>refused to make public what rules and prohibitions it has
>ordered under its emergency powers.
>There was no sign at the IAC offices of worry about the
>police. Volunteers kept coming in. The phones rang nonstop.
>The list of cities sending buses kept getting longer.
>There can be no doubt that the wide opposition to the
>incoming Bush administration will be seen on the streets of
>Washington Jan. 20.
>Jan. 25, 2001
>issue of Workers World newspaper
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