The World Economic Forum will be holding its annual meeting in New York City
in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel
at 301 Park Avenue
(between 49th and 50th st.) from Thursday, January 31, 2002
until Monday, February 4, 2002
For more information about the meeting itself, you can go to:
The six themes of the conference are:
You can come to your own conclusions about whether you support or despise the aims and outcomes of the forum. Whether you support globalization, or against it, this meeting should spark some interest for you. What is truly interesting about this meeting to me, however, are the preparations being made by the New York City police department. In light of recent violent protests at WTO meetings in Seattle, Quebec City, and Genova, the NYPD are preparing for the worst. Over 4,000 police are being made ready to enforce a "frozen zone", only accessable to employees working in that region.
Protesters have obtained permits, and will be allowed into to vocalize their disfavor with the WEF, but police chief Joe Esposito has indicated that a rarely enforced 1845 law prohibiting groups of 3 or more to wear masks. This would, in their theory, inhibit the actions of left-wing and anarchist groups using tactics such as the Black Bloc, by allowing for the immediate arrest of those wearing masks. They would most likely be arraigned, and held without bail, only to have the charges dropped after the meeting. In addition, this would allow for the arrest of peaceful protesters who donned gas masks, if the police resorted to such methods of crowd control. However, it seems it would be reserved for the violent
The following were instructions sent to employees working within the "frozen zone." (I received these via a company-wide email sent to the employees of Bristol-Myers Squibb):
- Employees will experience delays upon arriving at their place of employment.
- Employees are asked NOT to carry luggage or knapsacks. They will be searched.
- Employees should be prepared to have various forms of photo ID and their building ID cards with them.
- All visitors/guests without proper building ID will have to be escorted by a representative of the building or the Company.
- No private vehicles will be allowed to enter or park within the "frozen zone."
- Employees will not be allowed to linger on the Park Avenue plaza for coffee or lunch.
- Employees should check with their local transportation carriers to determine if normal bus/train routes will be affected.
- Employees are reminded to immediately notify Security (x2752) if they lose their ID card.
- Employees are asked not to schedule any seminars/conferences with numerous attendees from January 31 to February 4.
- If employees are unable to cancel scheduled appointments, they should ensure that the visitors/guests have the direct telephone number of the employee.
- Furthermore, employees will need to be available to respond as escorts in the event that their visitors/guests are not permitted into the "frozen zone."
Pretty much sounds like a lock down. The question remains, however, who will be worse, the police or the protestors? It sounds like both sides are making a valiant effort to limit the violence (through the frozen zone and the protestors decision to obtain a permit). However, with the decision to arrest those wearing masks, and the likely antagonistic behavior of protestors, this could turn into another fiasco.
This poses the most important question. With previously unseen support for the police and the government following the September 11th incidents, will the protesters help or hurt their cause? Will they lose the support of the average citizen if they struggle with police? Or, playing it safe, will they remain peaceful in light of recent events? Hopefully, both the police and the protesters will do their best so make sure that no one gets hurt. This however, seems unlikely.
There will be aftermath added to this node, as the meeting plays out.
Update: After the first day, there were almost no arrests (5 women for tresspassing on a roof, and a couple others for vandalizing stores) and no reports of violence! Huzzah!
Update (2): Seems some wiseguys have done a DoS attack on the WEF's website. See here:
Update (3): (Feb,4) To this point, there have been a pleasingly low number of arrests, about 160, considering how many people are protesting, and how many police officers are there. 87 were arrested Sunday afternoon for stopping traffic (They supposedly had led a type of protest parade called a snake march against traffic in the East village). Another 70 were arrested when, later on sunday, according to the New York Times:
Hundreds of people left an "earth and animal liberation" rally to roam the Upper East Side. Red paint was spilled, a door and windows of a high-rise apartment building were smashed
This could be alot worse. Thankfuly, both the police and protesters kept their violent sides under wraps for the most part.
You can find the NYTimes article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/04/nyregion/04STRE.html