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Activist Groups to Protest New York Meeting of World Economic Forum - 2002-01-25

A planned gathering of government and business leaders from around the world is likely to attract activists from many countries when it opens in New York next week. Demonstration organizers sent a mixed message Thursday about their protest plans.

The activists say this year's rallies outside the World Economic Forum will be "lawful, orderly and militant." They expect thousands of protesters to gather starting January 31 outside the Waldorf-Astoria hotel where the economic summit is being held. Protest leaders say they opposed poverty, unemployment, war and a variety of other causes.

Organizer Brian Becker of an anti-war group "International ANSWER" says the activist groups are unified in their call for economic justice.

"We're not against globalization per se. We are against the globalization of poverty. This form of globalization, that is corporate globalization leads to the enrichment of the few at the expense of the many. We want to globalize equality. We want to globalize full-employment. We want to globalize true 'ive and let live' economic commerce," he says.

In recent years, violence has broken out during demonstrations at economic summits in Seattle, Washington and Genoa, Italy. The clashes often overshadowed both the meetings inside and the message of protesters outside.

Twenty heads of State and more than 1,000 international business leaders are expected to attend the summit. Organizers of the annual World Economic Forum say they decided to move the meeting from Davos, Switzerland, to support New York after the September 11 terrorist attacks. But some activists accuse the WEF of moving this year's summit to New York in hopes of discouraging protests.

Student organizer Elijah Crane says demonstrations will go on in New York. "Our protests will continue so long as their racist, economic, and military assaults persist. A new generation of anti-war activists [is] emerging with the anti-globalization struggle. And we will continue to fight for global justice," he says.

Protesters are expected to arrive from more than 30 U.S. states, and several nations. They say the reaction of police will determine whether the demonstrations remain peaceful.

Many of the groups have received permits to demonstrate. In order to prepare for anticipated protests, New York police have received special training and officers have gone to cities that have experienced similar anti-globalization demonstrations.