Protesters march on Washington to oppose war and racism after the terrorist attacks

Saturday, September 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Activists and anarchists chanted ``no war'' as they took to the streets Saturday, their anti-globalization cause transformed by the terrorist attacks into a call for peace.

Police used pepper spray to control some protesters as they passed the D.C. Convention Center.

Two officers carried Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer behind barricades late Saturday morning after he was sprayed by a substance.

Arrests were made after the disturbance, said a police spokeswoman, but she could not provide further details.

The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, an anarchist group based in the capital, rallied hundreds Saturday morning near Capitol Hill to march to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters in downtown Washington.

Rachel Ettling, 18, of Grand Forks, N.D., was one of several people holding up two giant paper skeletons labeled ``Us'' and ``Them.'' A banner hanging between the skeletons read, ``Violence does not solve violence.''

``We're urging the administration caution before they go to war in our name,'' Ettling said.

Other banners read: ``Arab does not equal terrorist'' and ``Destroy imperialism, not Afghanistan.''

While some protesters arrived in black masks, others marched with their kids. One protester from Pennsylvania, who identified himself only as David, brought his 11-month-old son, Sage. ``I brought him to teach him what freedom is like before it's gone,'' the father said.

While no organized counter-demonstrators met the anarchists, workers at a construction site cursed the marchers as they passed by.

Ken Childers, 38, a pest-control worker from Maryland, said: ``This is ridiculous. How can they call themselves Americans? ... I can't believe these people don't want us to defend ourselves.''

At an event held in the city to announce a scholarship fund for the children and spouses of victims of the Sept. 11 attack, former President Clinton and his onetime political rival Bob Dole were asked about the anti-war protest.

``This is America,'' Clinton said. ``They are welcome to say whatever they want to say. ... If the future of the world in the Middle East is what Mr. bin Laden wants it to be, they would not be able to speak their mind.''

The protests were originally planned to oppose policies of the World Bank and the IMF. The global financial organizations called off their annual meetings for this year after the Sept. 11 attacks, and most protesters canceled their events.

A few groups shifted focus to oppose what they call a rush to war by the United States that could kill many innocent people. The protesters also condemned the backlash against Arabs and Muslims and say that the Bush administration has used the attacks as an excuse to curtail civil liberties.