D.C. Cops Primed for Inauguration Protests

Article excerpt

Anti-establishment activists and liberals are planning to flood the District with massive protests on Inauguration Day, prompting city police to brace for the deluge with an unprecedented level of security.

Many of the groups that demonstrated against the World Bank here in April intend to return to the District with their puppets and mantras, regardless of who takes the presidential oath of office on Jan. 20.

And supporters of Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, are planning a "civil rights explosion" if Republican George W. Bush is officially named the winner.

"We're not planning civil disobedience, but we are planning to fill the streets of Washington with thousands of people," said Brian Becker, co-director of the New York-based International Action Center, which is coordinating the protests.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials said they are preparing on an even greater scale than they did in April for the anti-World Bank/International Monetary Fund protests.

"What we would hope is that any demonstrations that are planned are peaceful," said Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. "We'll be as gentle or as forceful as we need to be, and play the situation out based on what they do."

"We have to be prepared for anything that may occur. It will not be [the police department] that creates the problem, but we will resolve it," he added.

Chief Ramsey will mobilize the entire Metropolitan Police Department for the event, and he has invoked "mutual aid" agreements with police in surrounding counties to increase staffing.

As many as 950 officers from Fairfax, Montgomery, Arlington and Prince George's counties and Alexandria will be federally deputized so they can enforce D.C. laws, officials said.

Federal police agencies will be out in force, and other agencies - such as the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms - will be on standby for major incidents.

Publicly, law enforcement officials said they do not anticipate anything out of the ordinary, even if anti-establishment protesters stage large demonstrations.

But the closest presidential race in history has produced unusually intense partisan tensions, and the new anti-establishment movement could attract many more demonstrators.

For those reasons, police forces are "anticipating problems" among anti-establishment protesters and partisans disappointed at their candidate's loss, several officials told The Washington Times.

"The uncertainty of the election process, regardless of who wins, makes us think they will use the inauguration to show their displeasure one way or the other," a law enforcement official told The Times. …