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Monday, April 17, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 134

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EDITORIAL BOARD

John Harp                                 Ed De La Garza 
Jason Caesar Consolacion     Jim Parsons


Peace, love, paddywagons

This staff editorial is brought to you by the acronyms WTO, IMF and by the letter ĎA,' for "anarchist."

The World Trade Organization, according to its Web site at www.wto.org is a coalition of nations who, through open discussion, decide "the global rules of trade between nations." At the beginning of December 1999, protesters gathered in an attempt to prevent or delay the WTO's annual week-long meeting, scheduled to take place in Seattle, Wash. During the week, things got messy. People, whether they were in peacefully demonstrating clusters or more violent mobs, ended up gassed, pepper sprayed, beaten, shot with rubber pellets and arrested.

The International Monetary Fund (www.imf.org) says it is an international "forum" with the purpose of maintaining "a stable system of buying and selling ... currencies." On Saturday, protesters -- this time they wanted to prevent the IMF's meeting from convening -- were gassed, pepper sprayed and arrested in Washington, D.C., for demonstrating without a permit.

Which brings us to "anarchist." As dictionaries typically define "anarchists," they seek to destroy all forms of government and propose to subsist without one. But many of the demonstrators in D.C., although they're self-styled "anarchists," assert that they simply want to replace "the big Man" of international banking with a little one.

Now that we've defined terms, let's discuss. The anti-IMF protest has not been the same as the Seattle protest. Police and citizens in our nation's capital agree that most of the demonstrators have been fairly peaceful so far. And the anarchists, in a twist, have found that D.C. police are much less aggressive than they'd anticipated. 

Sure, it's sad that people who want to demonstrate peaceably are detained on a piddly "no permit" charge, but when you're an anarchist and refuse to work within the system by filing paperwork, you should expect to be arrested.

And although the police are generally able to arrest a group of unruly people for "disturbing the peace," or at least legally empowered to force them to disperse, the arrest of just 525 people compared to the more than 10,000 present shows more than a little restraint.

We're not going to say whether we're for the IMF or for the anarchists. We will say we're relieved that the situation seems to be well in hand. Police are satisfied that there aren't casualties, and protesters are just glad they're getting some attention. Ironically enough in this situation, everybody's happy.
 

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