Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wolfowitz’s Press Conference Disrupted!

On Thursday April 20th World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz headlined an opening press conference of the Annual Spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund here in Washington DC.

A short while into his speech two Washington DC based activists, one with the Mobilization for Global Justice and the other with a local non-profit, leapt onto their seats and unfurled a banner that read “World Bank Finances Corporate Corruption!” while chanting “corporate corruption! Who can we thank? The IMF and the World Bank!” The protestors never turned their backs on Wolfowitz while they were removed by IMF security. All the while they also continued to yell and chant. Other civil society participants began to join the chanting too. The press immediately began to follow the protestors out of the room. They snapped pictures and frantically recorded what the activists were saying.

What followed the protestor’s removal was described by one attendee as “mayhem”. Support people for the protestors began to hand out a statement explaining the action and holding mini impromptu press conference with the dozens of press that had followed the protestors out of the room. Other press who were not in the room at the time of the action came sprinting down the hall way in the hopes of catching the action. IMF and World Bank civil society liaisons frantically tried to curtail the activities of the activists.

One IMF staff person looked at those seated in the civil society chairs that were not a part of the action and shouted quiet shrilly “you civil society people are so screwed!” Another IMF staff person, while looking rather frantic shouted “this is not supposed to be happening! There is no security in here!”

The two protestors who had dropped the banner meanwhile had been escorted to another room, had there credentials taken and were lead out the main door of the IMF building. Shortly after they left other activists began to emerge. All had also had their credentials revoked and been told to leave. One person who did not have here credentials taken at the same time managed to make it back in, use the IMF copy machine (free of charge) to make more copies of the statement to leave on the table. She was then told to leave and had to release her credentials.

High five’s were given all around for a great action which garnered a lot of support and attention. Several other representatives from non governmental organizations came out to congratulate those who had dropped the banner.

Protestors chose today because Wolfowitz was speaking on his new initiative to fight corruption. Their banner was a reminder of who really finances the corruption that Wolfowitz is talking about combating.

Technorati Tags: , , ,, , .