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Police turn out in force for tiny protest

(Published May 22, 2000)

By OSCAR ABEYTA

Staff Writer

Protesters trying to confront Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey about alleged abuses by police officers during last month’s IMF/World Bank protests were met instead by another show of force by the police department.

The rag-tag group of five protesters assembled outside the Cato Institute at 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW May 17 unfurled a homemade cardboard sign and mops and brooms with signs taped to them.

Ramsey was to speak inside at a form entitled "Dirty Cops and Wrongful Prosecution."

The demonstrators stood quietly near the sidewalk, not blocking the entrance to the building. After about 20 minutes a motorcycle cop pulled up onto the sidewalk, parked his bike in front of the demonstrators and began questioning them.

The police presence began growing after that.

Several squad cars pulled up and parked in front of the building and the officers stood on the sidewalk in front of the group. Soon there were six patrol cars, a paddy wagon, about a dozen officers and the motorcycle officer, along with Commander Jose Acosta of the Special Investigations Unit, monitoring the five protesters.

Acosta, when asked about the unusual police turnout for such a small protest, replied, "We just want to make sure that they stay within the law."

Ironically, the small band of protesters was demonstrating against what they felt were police misconduct and freedom of speech violations by law enforcement officials during the International Monetary Fund-World Bank protests in April.

"It’s what they do," protester Jennifer Kirby said. "They intimidate."

Despite the disproportionate police presence, the protesters reasoned they had one small victory for their effort: Ramsey chose to enter the building through a back entrance rather than walk past the protesters.

"Awesome! We made him go in the back," exclaimed one demonstrator when she found out Ramsey was already in the building.

Inside the conference, two protesters, Adam Eidinger and Nadine Bloch, briefly disrupted Ramsey’s talk before being ejected by security guards. Eidinger leaped to the podium with a sponge in hand as Ramsey got up to speak and yelled out "Dirty cops — it takes one to know one!" He then proceeded to scrub the podium with the sponge.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator