Washington fences off roads for protests

By ANWAR IQBAL  |  April 11, 2003 at 1:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- Washington police on Friday had fenced off several roads leading to the White House and the World Bank, the two main targets of protesters gathering in the U.S. capital to demand peace and what they consider economic justice.

Police officers had also set up checkpoints at the headquarters of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in downtown Washington.

People who need to attend the meetings have to present credentials. The walkway outside the White House and part of the adjoining park have also been closed.

An 8-foot black metal fence was erected in a few hours Friday morning along the north side of Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. While pedestrian traffic was allowed through Friday, the usually bustling park was nearly empty and the fence around the immediate White House grounds -- a popular location for tourists with cameras -- was deserted.

Police say they are expecting thousands of demonstrators to protest World Bank meetings and the war in Iraq this weekend.

Anti-war group marches Saturday caused the closure of several streets from Freedom Plaza to Farragut Square, by way of Pennsylvania Avenue, Connecticut and other key thoroughfares. The expected march route skirts the U.S. Treasury, the White House and the World Bank.

But the World Bank protesters have negotiated an alternative route with police. They plan to march from 16th and Euclid streets to the World Bank. Police have also agreed to provide an alternative route to expected anti-war and pro-troop demonstrations.

Outdoor newspaper vending machines and trash cans have been removed from near the World Bank offices for security reasons, police said.

City officials said they do not expect the anti-war demonstration to be very large because some groups have already canceled buses, as the war appears to be winding down.

Antiwar organizers say no civil disobedience is planned, but unlike previous demonstrations, Saturday's protest march will go through parts of downtown Washington to target corporate offices and media outlets.

Protesters coming to the U.S. capital this weekend will not only be watched by police but by security cameras as well. Police officials said eight temporary cameras will keep tabs on the thousands expected to protest against both the Iraq war and the World Bank.

Six of these cameras started operating Friday and will stay on at least through Sunday. The other two have been on since last month, but were moved to locations close to the protest routes. Those two cameras will stay on until further notice.

Those eight new cameras are in addition to 14 permanent cameras silently watching the U.S. capital since America went to a Code Orange security alert last month.

Protest groups have long complained about the use of the cameras, which the administration defends.

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