Activists will descend on Georgetown Friday as part of a series of protests to disrupt the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.
The October Coalition, an umbrella group for protest organizations, is calling on the IMF and the World Bank to change their policies regarding debt forgiveness for impoverished countries and increased sensitivity to environmental and social issues, asserting that their policies enable multinational corporations to exploit the labor and natural resources of developing nations.
“This particular action alone will obviously have minimal impact,” Basav Sen, a member of the October Coalition’s media relations committee, said. “But if we put it in the context of worldwide and continuing action, cumulatively these protests have some impact. They’re starting to feel the pressure.”
One of the Coalition’s major events for this weekend is “Disrupt Georgetown!” an unpermitted march on M Street, starting at 9 p.m. on Friday at Washington Circle. Sen estimated “maybe a couple hundred people” would attend the Georgetown protest.
“Part of what we are trying to highlight is how these global inequalities translate into very visible local inequalities that hurt people right here in Washington D.C.” Sen said. “We wanted to highlight the entertainment complex. This is where the people who make these destructive decisions congregate to eat and drink and make merry and party. ”
Sen would not promise that the march would be non-violent.
“There are autonomous ‘affinity groups’ who choose to engage in different kinds of actions. We don’t take a position on it [violence] one way or another. We believe in taking action that opposes the IMF and the global economy.”
The assertion on the October Coalition’s website that “a diversity of tactics” will be used worried Ed Solomon, Chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
“They have the First Amendment right to state what their positions are just as long as they do it in an orderly way,” he said.
Many Georgetown business owners don’t see how marching on the neighborhood connects to the October Coalition’s goals.
“‘Why would they want to be in Georgetown?’ is my question,” Marielle Minges, manager of La Chumiere Restaurant on M Street, said. “They’re supposed to be protesting against the IMF or whatever country they’ve got issues with.”
Community leaders expressed concern over the vagueness of the Coalition’s Georgetown plans.
“If the media gets a hold of the story, there might be an effect on people coming to Georgetown and that will obviously affect businesses,” Solomon said.