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STORY: ANTI-WEF ACTIVISTS HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE IN NYC, JAN. 24

by Gery A Sunday, Jan. 27, 2002 at 12:14 AM
gery@action-mail.org 212-633-6646

Activists planning to rally thousands of protesters outside the World Economic Forum next week soundly rejected the idea that the city is too traumatized in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to experience any more disorder. In fact, they predicted yesterday, New Yorkers will welcome a spirited dissent.

**A.N.S.W.E.R. COALITION PRESS CONFERENCE IN NYC, JAN. 24**

On Thursday, January 24 International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) held a press conference in New York City to announce plans for February 1 and 2 activities against the World Economic Forum.

Speakers at the press conference were:

  • Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General, one of the attorneys who have filed a lawsuit in federal court demanding that Guantanamo POWs be accorded the legal protections of the Geneva Conventions
  • James Creedon, NYC Paramedic who worked at Ground Zero
  • Larry Holmes, Co-Director, International Action Center
  • Ismael Guadalupe, Committee for the Rescue & Development of Vieques
  • Macrina Cardenas, Mexico Solidarity Network
  • Brian Becker, Co-Director, International Action Center
  • Nadia Ahmed, Students for International Peace & Justice
  • Sarah Sloan, Student Organizer for A.N.S.W.E.R.
  • Debbie Daniels, M.D., Doctors for Global Health
  • Ray LaForest, DC 1707, New York Labor Against the War
  • Elijah Crane, Student Organizer for International Action Center
  • Gail Walker, IFCO/Pastors for Peace
  • Facilitator: Teresa Gutierrez, International A.N.S.W.E.R.

Press in attendance included CNN TV and radio, CNN Espanol, NBC TV, CBS TV and radio, ABC TV, Reuters, Associated Press print and TV, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, NY 1, Newsday, New York Daily News, Ch. 9 UPN, 1010 WINS, WPIX TV, WOR radio news, Chicago Tribune, Fuji TV, The Christian Science Monitor, Bloomberg news, The Voice of America, NHK Japan, Nippon TV, ARD German TV, Metro Networks Radio, New York University journalism students.

COVERAGE FROM NEWSDAY

Activists: We Come in Peace

By Melanie Lefkowitz
Staff writer
January 25, 2002

Activists planning to rally thousands of protesters outside the World Economic Forum next week soundly rejected the idea that the city is too traumatized in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to experience any more disorder.

In fact, they predicted yesterday, New Yorkers will welcome a spirited dissent.

"Every politician in the city has said that we should get back to normal. And what's more normal than restarting the movement for economic and social justice?" said Larry Holmes, spokesman for the International Action Center. "I think it will energize the city."

About a dozen activists, speaking against policies ranging from the U.S. bombing on Vieques to the imprisonment of the Taliban and al-Qaida members at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, assured reporters yesterday that they are planning legal, peaceful protests during the five-day forum, which is set for the Waldorf Astoria starting on Jan. 31.

Unless, of course, the police start behaving violently first, organizers said.

"Our guides and our security are not preparing for action against violent demonstrators, but are preparing for potential violence from police," said Brian Becker, another action center spokesman. "They're the only group that comes to the protests with guns; they're the only group that comes with clubs, tear gas and pepper spray."

Ever since 50,000 protesters overwhelmed Seattle police during the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999, demonstrations - often featuring violent clashes between protesters and police - have accompanied similar events all over the world.

City police officials say this department is better equipped and more accustomed to large demonstrations than police in Seattle or Genoa, Italy, where other forums were met with violent protests, and predict the situation won't turn violent.

Last week, police invited the press to a mock mobilization at Shea Stadium, where they demonstrated tactics for handling rowdy protesters.

Yesterday, Becker accused the Police Department of using those images of officers in riot gear as a scare tactic to discourage potential protesters.

"They have tried to present a public image that there will be chaos," he said. "This, we believe, is an attempt to tell the millions of people who really agree with our message that there should be money for jobs and education and housing and health care that it's just too dangerous to come to New York City."

A police spokesman, Michael O'Looney, said the department publicized the mobilization drill to reassure the public about its level of preparedness.

"If some protesters take those drills to mean that we are aware they are coming, that's also correct," O'Looney said.

Becker also contended yesterday that the World Economic Forum, which traditionally holds its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, moved it to New York this year because officials thought the current climate of fear, grief and patriotism would quell the protests.

Charles McLean, spokesman for the WEF, dismissed that accusation as "nonsense."

"Our decision to come to New York was made because we were determined to make our program as relevant as possible to the post-9/11 world," he said. "Frankly, I don't think anybody gave any thought to how the protest situation might be changed by venue."

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