Washington Police Tear Gas Protestors

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Police in Washington, DC fired tear gas canisters Sunday to disperse a crowd of protesters gathered in the nation's capital to stop a meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

According to Washington Police Chief Charles Ramsey, the deployment of tear gas was necessary to unblock intersections in downtown Washington that had been gridlocked for hours by demonstrators who failed to disperse after police rode motorcycles through the crowd and sprayed some protestors with pepper spray.

"The use of tear gas is something we don't resort to unless we absolutely have to," said Ramsey at a news conference where he urged DC residents to stay away from the downtown area.

"We expect to have serious disruptions," said Ramsey, who estimated that about 6,000 protestors were on the streets of Washington on Sunday morning. He added that he expects further disruptions on Monday when the meetings conclude.

"Our goal is to let these meetings take place and to let the protests take place," said Ramsey.

On Saturday, DC police arrested about 600 marchers who were charged with parading without a permit. "The protestors were given several opportunities to disperse, and they didn't, so we took action," Ramsey said.

IMF Acting Managing Director Stanley Fischer said the two-day meeting would go ahead as planned.

"We will meet, we will get through this," said Fischer. "We have an important agenda."

Many small businesses in the neighborhood of the World Bank have boarded up their windows and closed down for Sunday and Monday in anticipation of mass demonstrations in the area.