By Christopher anderson
WASHINGTON – Maryland police agencies will send up to 240 officers as early as Thursday to help control expected protests this week against the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, D.C.
Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Charles Ramsey has also asked departments from as far away as Atlanta and Chicago to send officers to help control crowds at the protests.
The federal government has promised to put up $5 million to help reimburse outside departments, including those from Maryland, that will assist District police as they brace for protests.
While Maryland police say they welcome the federal help, they would respond regardless of whether or not reimbursement was possible.
“We assist allied police departments around the region quite often. We have worked very closely with the Metropolitan Police Department in the past, and we are assisting them again,” said Maj. Greg Shipley, spokesman for the Maryland State Police.
“Reimbursement would certainly be helpful, but if Chief Ramsey needs our assistance, we will certainly be there for him,” Shipley said.
District officials estimated the protests will cost them $8.7 million. The federal government has agreed to give the city $5 million, the estimated cost of bringing in police from outside jurisdictions, according to Margret Nedelkoff Kellams, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice.
The District expects to have about 1,600 of its own police and 1,700 officers from outside jurisdictions, according to Kellams.
Prince George’s County Police plan to send 60 officers at a cost of at least $100,000, according to department spokesman Capt. Andy Ellis.
Montgomery County will send 80 officers, including 20 Maryland-National Capital Park Police, and the Maryland State Police will send about 100 of their own, according to officials for the agencies.
Washington has been the site of several large, anti-globalization protests targeting the IMF and World Bank in the past. This year’s protests, like previous years, will include participants with related political agendas but varying tactics.
A group called the Anti-capitalist Convergence has promised to disrupt traffic and business of downtown Washington Friday. A rally and march along Pennsylvania Avenue are planned for Saturday.
Some protesters are anxious about potential clashes with police, but some organizers are hoping attention will be directed toward issues rather than conflict. David Levy, of the Mobilization for Global Justice, a group sponsoring Saturday’s march and rally, said his group is not looking for trouble.
“We’re a group that espouses non-violent principles. Certainly the clashes will not be coming from our side. We’re hoping the Metropolitan Police Department will adhere to its own guidelines and not provoke confrontation,” Levy said.
“Our purpose is to address the delegates who are meeting between closed doors, behind a fortress-like environment to determine the fates of millions of people around the world,” he said.
Protester Matt Reilly will be traveling to the protests with a group of students and workers from the University of Maryland and other area schools. His group plans to engage in street theater including puppet making and “radical cheerleading,” which Reilly defined as “the same activity as traditional cheerleading, but run around an alternative subject.”
“Instead of cheering-on male, aggressive sports, we’ll be talking about smashing the state,” he said.
Reilly did not know that Maryland police were coming into the District for the protests, but he said he anticipated “the police being there and the police not wanting us to be there.”
Having been arrested at a protest in Washington two years ago and tear gassed at other protests, Reilly said he “did not expect things to go perfectly” between protesters and police. — CNS reporter Heather Coppley contributed to this story.