WEF Foes Won't Nix Violence in N.Y

By Pisik, Betsy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 16, 2002 | Go to article overview
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WEF Foes Won't Nix Violence in N.Y

Pisik, Betsy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)

Byline: Betsy Pisik

NEW YORK - Anti-globalization protesters, who have shied from the spotlight in the months after September 11, plan to return in force with a massive display of resistance at a meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) here in two weeks.

At a weekend organization meeting in New York, dozens of self-proclaimed anarchists, radicals and anti-globalization activists agreed that they would not publicly condemn the use of violence by fellow protesters.

Many of those speaking at the three-hour meeting said they did not define as violence the destruction of corporate property, nor measures taken in self-defense.

"The police and the corporate media will try to provoke violence, and I think we will be in an inevitably volatile situation," said one man in his early 20s, a decorative stripe of safety pins trailing down one sleeve.

No one at the meeting of the anti-WEF coalition, called "Another World Is Possible," advocated the use of violence during Sunday night's meeting. But they seemed comfortable with the idea that their protests might turn ugly.

One organizer said he had arranged for 30 "street medics" - volunteers trained in emergency first aid for tear gas, broken bones and other injuries most frequently sustained in demonstrations - to be available during the group's march Feb. 2.

The anti-WEF organization is fairly decentralized, but some facilitators say they expect tens of thousands of demonstrators, including student groups, labor unions, church groups and activists supporting animal, environmental and human rights.

Protesters have disrupted nearly every major international economic gathering since the "Battle of Seattle" shut down the World Trade Organization meeting in December 1999. Demonstrations in Washington; Salzburg, Austria; Genoa, Italy; and other cities have grown increasingly violent.

The 31-year-old World Economic Forum, traditionally staged in Davos, Switzerland, will leave its mountaintop for the first time this year.

WEF conferences have been plagued by protests for the past two years, causing some Swiss politicians and media outlets to question whether it should continue to be held in a small alpine village.

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