Washington, D.C. (CNSNews.com) - A thousand protesters descended on a park next to the White House Friday to protest and rail against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings being held this weekend and to decry the Bush administration's policy on Iraq.
One man, who would only identify himself as Baruch, told CNSNews.com that the marchers gathered at Freedom Plaza Park in Washington were there to "oppose the concentration of wealth and resources among such a few people and corporations on the planet."
Baruch identified himself as a member of the "Pagan Cluster" which believes in an "Earth Goddess" or "Earth Spirituality." He called the IMF and World Bank policies "destructive to the planet, destructive to humanity and destructive to all life."
"The state of the earth is dire ... the corporations and politicians do not care about the health of the people or the health of the planet," Baruch said.
"I think the Bush administration has one focus and one focus only, and that is to make more money for the wealthy at the expense of the earth and all the people of the earth," Baruch added.
He also railed against any possible military action in Iraq.
"Bush was not elected legitimately, he is an oil man, he is getting ready to murder civilians in Iraq in order to continue to bring cheap oil, Baruch explained.
"For me this earth spirituality tells me that I need to be true to myself, I need to have integrity, which means that life is more valuable than money," he added.
'End Oppression Worldwide'
About 600 protesters had been arrested as of Friday afternoon. The remaining marchers, many who wore Middle Eastern head garb, chanted "Let Them Go" and "This is What a Police State Looks Like" at the riot gear clad police. At one point, several dozen protesters stepped off the curb onto the street in defiance of police orders. Officers on horseback eventually forced the protesters back onto the sidewalk.
"I tend to think that everybody in this world is a human being whether they are a police officer or not, so frankly I can't understand why a bunch of human beings would put on armor and carry weapons and round up other human beings who are just trying to speak their mind," said a protester identified only as Sam.
Luke Clark, a protester who described his affiliation as "humanity at large," said the marches in D.C. were "all part of one united movement to end oppression worldwide."
"The people that want to make war in Iraq, that are exploiting the global South (developing Southern Hemisphere), and the people that are funding Israel and oppressing the Palestinian people, are all united together, which is why we need to be united together to stop them," Clark explained.
Clark does not believe the protests will have much of an effect on President Bush's policies, however.
"I don't have much hope of it ever affecting someone like Bush personally, but if there is enough uprising against it, he's a pragmatist, so hopefully he will back off," Clark said.
Another protester, Lee Walker, believes the al Qaeda terrorist network may not have perpetrated the Sept. 11 attacks.
"A lot of people feel that the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were actually started up by the inside. It was probably a conspiracy because there were a lot of big fat cats with a lot of money that took out stock options a couple of days before and they got a whole lot of money and a whole lot of power and a whole lot of people went down," Walker explained.
The U.S. "gave a fascist party a lot of money and then that money filtered down into bin Laden's hands," Walker said. Asked which "fascist party" he was referring, Walker responded, Um, I can't remember right now."
A University of Maryland student, who would only give her name as Sally, said the protests were "to let Bush know that we as a people don't agree with this possible war. It's not going to solve anything."
Sally said any planned military actions against Iraq are "part of [Bush's] idea to take over the Middle East and take over the oil."
"Obviously, Saddam does not have a problem killing his own people, so he's not going to have a problem killing ours," Sally added.
Walker said the protesters represent "the little man."
"The little man sits on trees and we will be there waiting on the top of the trees so that these companies, these people, these major political companies, can't take us over," Walker said.
"We have to be there for ourselves and those people overseas that are dying," he added.
E-mail a news tip to Marc Morano.
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