Threatening to shut down the city, the Peoples Strike of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence Alliance stormed into this capital city last week-and went directly to jail without passing Go.
Perhaps a fifth of the promised 20,000 demonstrators turned up, and by Friday afternoon 649 were in the custody of Police Chief Ramsey, charged with failing to get off the street. Raged 42-year-old Eric Laursen of New York: "These streets are our streets. We dont need permission to be in the street and send a message."
Replied Ramsey: "They made it clear the last five months they were going to try to shut down this city down, they were going to try to cause property damage through some kind of point system. Were not going to let them do that in our city."
Mark Goldstone of the National Lawyers Guild whined that he was unable to talk to arrestees who, on release, griped about the food, water and bathroom facilities at Chez Ramsey.
Said the chief: "Its jail. Its not a resort, so people cant expect to be treated the same way they would if they checked in at the Hilton." If the chief keeps this up, he may soon be mayor.
Some 300 activists trooped to Georgetown with signs reading "Stop Gaps Sweatshops," then trivialized their cause by stripping to thongs, bras and underpants to protest Gaps alleged exploitation of Third World workers.
Saturday, a cardboard Trojan Horse being moved to the World Bank building got snagged on a tree branch and lost its head. "Kind of symbolic of the protests," said Chief Ramsey.
The strike was intended to shut down the city and disrupt the annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank. It was a total bust. Some workers simply stayed home, and others found traffic less congested than normal, as Ramseys cops outnumbered and swarmed the demonstrators everywhere they turned.
The Peoples Strike may rank as the biggest flop in 40 years of mass demonstrations. Like their fathers before them, these infantile leftists seem never to learn how self-defeating their antics have become.
Many Americans might support a write-off of poor-country debts owed to the IMF and World Bank, in return for a shutdown of these socialist institutions that regularly loot Middle America to subsidize corrupt and even criminal Third World regimes and their foolish bankers.
But all the disrupters accomplished was to call attention to their smug, self-righteous, obnoxious selves. And if this is the caliber of the demonstrators coming here on October 26 to protest a preemptive war on Iraq, President Bush can launch with impunity. As Reuters reports, bystanders who faced tangled commutes to their offices or had long-planned Washington sightseeing trips disrupted had little sympathy for the protesters.
"Theres a fine line between democracy and stupidity. Especially in this climate after 9-11," said Carol Tyler of San Mateo, Calif. "You really have to err on the conservative side."