On Friday, Oct. 19, people rallied outside of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office against the racist raids and deportations that are being carried out on Latino communities throughout the country. From there, participants took over the streets and marched to a rally against police brutality. The event was focused on the recent murder of 14-year-old Deonte Rawlings by Washington D.C. police, and speakers argued that police should be prosecuted in the legal system like the rest of us instead of operating with impunity. Though police can technically be prosecuted by the court system, people highlighted the lack of historical examples of such legal actions in the area.
That night, hundreds of people participated in a militant, unpermitted march through Georgetown, because, as a press release stated, “the affluent area housed many of the rich and powerful heads of the IMF and World Bank and Georgetown’s relationship to other DC neighborhoods is a microcosm of the economic inequality that the IMF and World Bank create internationally.” Most participants masked their faces in order to act collectively and express solidarity with each other. Behind those masks could be your parent, child, teacher, employee, or friend. As the Zapatistas say, “behind our masks, we are you”.
On Saturday morning, thousands of demonstrators brought the resistance to the doorstep of the IMF and World Bank headquarters, where they were conducting their annual meeting. Almost 62 years after they were founded in the aftermath of World War II, the two institutions continue a history of Western colonialism by providing loans to impoverished countries for so-called “development” projects. However, the interest rates on such loans are so exorbitant that countries find themselves in a cycle of debt.
Nation states like the United States use this debt trap to continue dominating other countries. In addition, “development” projects are not created or approved by the people who they will affect, but rather by the heads of state. Globally, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by World Bank-funded dams in countries like Mexico and India, while the privatization of social services that accompanies IMF loans has destroyed economies in places like Argentina and Haiti.
The demonstrations on Oct. 19 and 20 are just a small part of a larger struggle, but they served as a visual testament of a growing resistance to Western capitalism and imperialism that the World Bank and IMF represent. In addition, the use of unpermitted actions exemplifies many people’s acceptance of a diversity of tactics and a rejection of the pressure to obtain the state’s permission to resist their repressive policies.
Since the policies of these institutions affect all of us, we all have a role to play in the discussion about how to create the world we want to see. Regardless of what tactics you choose – whether you are one of the Guilford students who took part in the actions in DC or you participate in another way – we all have equally important roles to play.