The following editorial appeared in today's Washington Post:
Neither the massive rally against the meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund nor the ballyhooed attempt to shut them down materialized as planned. That didn't stop protest organizers from indulging in one final miscalculation before leaving town. They gave themselves an ''A-plus'' for PR when in fact they created a weak impression and mainly managed to step on their own fuzzy message by their dubious choice of tactics. If any groups deserve high marks, they are the disciplined men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department and other law-enforcement agencies who served under District of Columbia Chief Charles Ramsey. The city should be grateful for the professional manner in which they handled the week-long protests and prevented a recurrence of last November's loss of control of the streets in Seattle.
The police prepared for the demonstration for months, and it showed. The provocations, intimidation and tactics that worked so well for those who demonstrated in Seattle against the World Trade Organization did not succeed in Washington because a massive, well-trained police force maintained order within the downtown protest zone. The law-enforcement operation did not come without costs. Nearly 1,300 people ended up with arrest records. Some confrontations led to blows from police batons and the use of pepper spray. A major section of the city was brought to a standstill for two days. And District of Columbia taxpayers are now looking at a bill for $5 million in police overtime plus $1 million in new riot-protection gear. City leaders have asked Congress for reimbursement. Congress should respond appropriately.
Despite the hit-and-run tactics of a relative few, the vast majority of demonstrators were able to exercise their constitutional right to assemble without serious incident. Odd as it may sound, that was largely thanks to the steady hand of the chief and Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance Gainer, who remained on the front line and in constant contact with both sides during the entire event.
Chief Ramsey said, ''I'm so proud of the men and women of my department and all the law enforcement in this region.'' Washington area residents can feel the same way. It was a solid police performance under difficult conditions.
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