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Summit of the Americas: Protesters Breach Perimeter

Aired April 20, 2001 - 16:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone, to CNN's live coverage of events that are now occurring in Quebec City, where, as you can see from these live pictures, police have made a line and are attempting to hold a human perimeter in place of the physical fence that was ripped down a little while ago by protesters who are here demonstrating against the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 34 leaders from the Western Hemisphere, from Chile and Argentina all the way up to Canada, who are here to discuss the creation of a free- trade zone and globalization and the extension of other privileges to corporations moving across borders.

These protesters fearing that that globalization effect, in fact, tramples human rights, some labor laws, the environment, and is something that they would like to disrupt while they are here. Now you see the police charging.

And we would like to turn for more insight into what we're seeing here to Brian Lilley, who is a reporter with the Canadian radio station, CINW, and who is on with us now.

Brian Lilley, can you tell us what's happening where you are?

BRIAN LILLEY, CINW RADIO: Well, as you are seeing, it looks like police are getting ready to charge. A man just picking up one of the tear gas canisters they fired and throwing it back at the line. That's been going on all afternoon since just after 3:00, when a large portion of the fence came down.

Police have surrounded the protesters and they've got them backed up against an area where it's a hill, an embankment, that they have to run down. They've charged and continue to charge back and forth. It is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, trying to take the plateau that you're seeing on your pictures right now.

FRAZIER: And are you in any kind of physical danger there, as Mike Armstrong was when he was talking to us, Brian?

LILLEY: Well, I spotted Mike earlier. We've been in and out of the same area. And, no, I've had to promise home that I will not stay in physical danger. But it has been tense all afternoon. I've been hit by tear gas a couple of times. Not an -- an experience I haven't had in about 10 years, and not one I ever want to have again.

The police at this point don't seem to care who is media and who is accredited. They have decided that they will take this plateau one way or the other, and it doesn't matter if you're hear to cover it. They're sending a message to more protesters that are expected to come up for the rest of the weekend summit.

FRAZIER: Now, Brian, when you use that word "plateau," do you mean that there's actually a rise in the ground that the police are trying to defend?

LILLEY: There are hills on a number of sides of this. Quebec City is built on a series of plateaus, and this particular one, there are hills to the north, to the west, and to the east, and on the site that you're looking at. And that is the area that the police want to maintain because that's where the largest section of fence has been taken down. Didn't take long for that fence to come down at all.

FRAZIER: As you move through the crowd there, Brian Lilley, and thank you for joining us here. We're getting you via CNN Radio and we're thankful for that link-up. As you move through the crowd, are you hearing any statement of intent on the part of demonstrators, like that they intend to go inside the perimeter and all the way to the leaders, or any other statement?

LILLEY: No. In fact, it's tough to tell what the intent of the crowd is now. It's very different from when it started. Just before 3:00, I'd been speaking with a young student who's come up from St. Laurence College in New Hampshire. And she said that she was here mainly to learn -- sorry, moving back now as the tear gas gets fired. Keeping out of its way. She said that she was here to learn more about what was going on, to send a message of people before profits.

And there were other people who were here saying that they were just peaceful. But it was a small group that started the violence. They said they wanted the wall down. That came down, and really, the question is, what next? Do they want to go inside and, as some have said, scream in the ears of the world leaders? At this point, I don't know.

There's a larger group that has set itself pretty far back from that police wall, and they're just drumming and dancing at this point. They're using this as a party, and most likely, will for the rest of the night.

FRAZIER: Now, I believe what we are looking at with these pictures, which come to us courtesy RDI is a wall created in the place of that physical barrier that has been breached, and the police are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their Plexiglas shields up, and that has been advanced to outside of the original wall. Is that right, Brian?

LILLEY: Absolutely. About half of the city block, you may be able to see in your pictures where the original perimeter fence was. It was just in front of the number of office buildings. And the intent of the number of people, when they were trying to get the fence down, was not to take down the fence, but also damage the corporate office buildings. Everything from the snowballs to chunks of grovel to hockey pucks were thrown at the windows in an attempt to break that.

So, the police have taken a bit of ground there. The grassy section that you may be seeing in your pictures was at one point occupied by protesters, both peaceful and violent. That, again, is no longer the case. Police have taken that, and they are basically containing the protesters now to a section of a side street where the drumming and chanting is going on, and it's a very small group standing in front of that police line where the tear gas continues to be fired.

FRAZIER: Now the provincial police in Quebec, Brian, are telling us that they have made a number of arrests. We in fact, have seen several of them occurring on camera. I am curious to tell if from where you are, you can tell what it takes to get arrested. What do you have to do to get arrested, since so many are left alone by the police?

LILLEY: I haven't seen any arrests at this demonstration. I have seen them in the past. What -- what's happened in demonstrations in Quebec before is that when people don't move back from the police line and they've seen them acting violently, then they will arrest them, if they have given them a number of warnings.

There may have been arrests. There was a police officer attacked earlier in the afternoon, as protesters marched from the University of Laval to this site -- oh, tear gas! -- to this site. They attacked the traffic cop who was in the middle of trying to make sure that the protest remained orderly, and he is being treated in hospital. There may have been arrested from that.

But again, I haven't seen any arrests here yet. Perhaps they're arresting people taking the canisters and throwing them back.

FRAZIER: Brian Lilley, I can hear that you are a little winded there as you try to get away from the gas, and as we're talking...

LILLEY: It's coming from all directions.

FRAZIER: We are also seeing pictures of the police, and some of them are holding these white plastic handcuffs, which are basically almost like wire guards that they used to immobilize the protesters. And as we are talking, we would like to bring in our John King, senior White House correspondent John King, who have some news of the president there -- John.

KING: Well, Stephen, I mentioned earlier that the leaders of Bolivia and Brazil were not able to make one meeting with President Bush because of the security concerns and the protests in the streets and the police response. Now we are told that another meeting of Caribbean leaders, three presidents did make it, but at least five leaders expected at that meeting have not made it, the White House says, again, because of concerns of security.

The leaders staying in their hotels, or where they were at the time, we are told, and not coming out into the street during this obviously very delicate moment, and not exposing themselves not only not to the protesters, but not to the tear gas as well.

FRAZIER: John, we are joined as we talk now with -- by Stephane Paquet who is with Operation Quebec Spring 2001, clearly then a leader of some of these demonstrations. Mr. Paquet can hear us OK?

STEPHANE PAQUET, PROTESTER: Yeah, I can hear you.

FRAZIER: Can you tell me, is your organization one of these red, or yellow, or green groups that Mike Armstrong was describing for us?

PAQUET: I would like to make some -- something clear. I am not a leader there. There is no real leaders in that kind of movement. Our organization, as I understood -- I didn't have much reports yet, but it was our organization was working with the GOMM, group opposed to the globalization of markets. They worked down on the Charest Boulevard, and as I know yet everything is going OK in this sector. We had planned a demonstration that was green and pale yellow, as you can call it.

FRAZIER: Tell us what those terms mean then, please, Mr. Paquet.

PAQUET: A green action is an action that is planned to be a non- arrest. Pretty close to the traditional demonstration, a march with signs, but with a more colorful -- more colorful aspect, if you can say it.

As I know, from the reports I had a few minutes ago, everything was going -- everything was going OK on Charest Boulevard. If I can commend what I see on TV, well -- as I understood, there are people who made it in the bringing down the perimeter fence, which was a clear insult to democracy and a negation of the most basic civil liberties in Canada. This fence and this security perimeter violated civil liberties, and a judge commanded it this way this week.

So that's all I know for now. All that I have seen -- and I have seen a few images on TV, and I add only a few reports from people from OQP who are demonstrating with the GOMM downtown. So, it may be too soon to make a complete -- complete command on what is going on. Later in the afternoon, we can probably make a more intelligent and more interesting comments on what is going on.

But one thing is clear, is that there is a project on the table of creating the free trade area of the Americas, which is not clearly -- which is not -- which is clearly not unanimous. So people there have a message to deliver, is that they don't want any kind of FTAA. So, that's all we can say for now.

As I understood, a police are managing the situation quite well. As I know, yet no massive arrests and no -- no aggressivity, no -- the aggressivity was not that bad. So if everything keeps -- keeps cool like this, I think that we can -- we can say for now, that everything is quite OK.

FRAZIER: Well, Mr...

PAQUET: Of course, in a situation -- the situation is (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We will be trying to get more reports.

FRAZIER: Well, Mr. Paquet, we are grateful for those insights now. We hope you will be in touch with us as the conference continues. As you said, we thought that these comments were in fact, informed and intelligent and interesting, and we're grateful for them. Stephane Paquet of Operation Quebec Spring 2001.

You might have heard Mr. Paquet mention the Avenue Cartier, which is in fact, the street we are looking at now in these live pictures which are coming to us courtesy RDI, so he was describing just the scene we happened to be watching. As we turn now to John King who is inside the perimeter at some distance from these pictures, but who's able to see them as he brings us more insights as to what is happening where he is -- John.

KING: And, Stephen, you see a calmer scene at the side of the perimeter, and also the location I have spoken about several times in the past, where we have had several episodes of tear gas use.

I am looking at a crowd of, oh, perhaps, 30 to 50 police officers standing two-by-two on a hill, in case they need to go down, but right now, standing relatively calmly, as if they're just there in case their presence is needed. It was not long ago at this very site that they rushed to a van to get tear gas to disperse the crowd. Now, they are standing, obviously making their presence seen and known to the demonstrators on the other side of the fence, just down the hill. But it appears much more calmer now, although still, from time to time, every few minutes, you get a little whiff of tear gas, and a little cloud blows by, but a much calmer situation right now.

You can see the goal of the police, as we've been watching the pictures over the past few minutes, shoulder-to-shoulder, stepping out to establish a perimeter, a further perimeter, outside, and to put more ground under their control and to try to drive the protesters even further back. And also, as we mentioned, the summit is still about one hour and 20 minutes away from the official opening ceremony.

Already, these protests are causing disruptions, though. The leaders of Bolivia and Brazil missing one meeting with President Bush because of security concerns. At least five other leaders missing a later meeting with the president because of security concerns.

As you see, the tear gas wafting over even the police officers standing there. Swirling winds here on the side complicating this task for everybody involved.

FRAZIER: And John, as you described that outer perimeter, which is a human line, we can see now some heavy equipment brought in to restore the physical barrier of a concrete wall, and the series of sort of New Jersey barriers, as they are known here, highway barriers with chain-link fence erected on top of those. They're going back up now, negating the effects of the demonstrators who managed to breach that barrier just a short time ago.

John, we are joined in our Washington bureau not only by Bill Schneider but by John Podesta, who is the former chief of staff, of course, of the Clinton White House, who was in Seattle to see some of this firsthand, and who was a free trade proponent.

Mr. Podesta, I'm wondering if you could comment on some of the comments made by David Smith of the AFL-CIO before you joined us.

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Well, Steve, I'm sorry, I was just coming into the studio so I didn't hear exactly what he said. Obviously, what is going on in Quebec City right now is unfortunate I think. There is obviously a place for protest, but it's important that the president be able to meet with the other leaders there, and as a I understand your coverage, a number of those meetings have had to be canceled.

Obviously we had to live through some of these protests in Seattle and then at the World Bank Meeting the following spring in Washington. That meeting was -- went on, as you know, and was successful, because I think that the D.C. Police did a great job on it. But these are issues that need to get discussed and need to get worked out, but they should be done, I think, in a peaceful fashion.

FRAZIER: Well, of course, some of the protesters say, Mr. Podesta, that their agenda isn't even on the list inside. And that their concerns would not be addressed were it were not for this kind of disruption.

PODESTA: Well, I think that, obviously, and I think that President Clinton made this point: People have to listen to what their concerns are. Improving labor standards and protecting the environment has to be part of the dialogue on trade.

And how exactly that gets worked out is something that needs to happen both inside the rooms up there, in the discussions on the FTAA, and it has to happen, quite frankly, in the discussions in Congress as they begin to fashion fast track authority. If that's going to pass, obviously, the concerns that are being raised by the protesters are going to have to be -- be come to terms with, through -- through dialogue.

But hopefully that could be done in a peaceful way rather than through trying to shut down the meetings or prevent the leaders from talking about these problems together.

FRAZIER: What do you think of the wide spectrum of economies that are included in these 34 nations meeting here in Quebec City? They seem at such variance, some that are literally third world and desperately poor and so little to offer in the way of trade, and others, of course, like the United States, the wealthiest country in the world?

PODESTA: Well Clearly some of the countries that are countries that we can sell products to and there are countries that want to sell products to the United States. I think improving the living standards of all of the countries in our neighborhood is something that ought to be a goal of -- of policy-makers in both the Democratic and the Republican party.

And I think that why we pursued the Caribbean Basin Initiative for example last year and the African Free Trade Initiative last year. And I think there is a place to have trade be part of a policy that works with development policies to improve the lives in those countries and improves the working conditions and improves the economy here so that people in the United States enjoy greater prosperity and a continued strong economy.

FRAZIER: I have a question now for our Bill Schneider who is also with you there in our Washington bureau, but Mr. Podesta, feel free to weigh in along with him since I know you are within each other's hearing and I hope within each other's sight. And that is, Bill, you know, John king mentioned how much more difficult it is politically for this president with such a dead-locked Congress and such narrow margins of power in Washington to put through any idea that is as complex as this one.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, of course it is difficult for President Bush, in part, because he is so closely identified with corporate America. He comes out of the oil gas industry, the energy industry in Texas, more so than Bill Clinton was, who was regarded as at least sympathetic to the concerns of labor and environmentalists, and also because the economy is worse. And there is a more receptive audience, because there is a slowdown in the United States and in other countries and so people are getting very worried about what this could mean -- more so than they were in the days of the Seattle protests.

FRAZIER: Of course the slowdown, a hard one to gauge, Bill, because as we've talked, you and I before, this is an economy where, of course, people who are deeply invested in the stocks of corporations are suffering as those stocks lose value, but main street seems to flourishing as consumers keep their spending.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. Consumers are continuing to spend. They're worried about the news they see in the paper. I don't think Americans are suffering, but they are worried. They read the news. The stock market goes up, it goes down, almost on a weekly basis. I think they are nervous, they are apprehensive. They are not in a panic yet and most people continue to say, the economy's in good shape. But just compare it with the Seattle period and there's a lot more economic concern now than there was then.

FRAZIER: Let's step away for a minute now from policy discussions and turn to our Kelly Wallace, a White House correspondent of great high mileage on airplanes. Kelly, last time we spoke you were in Crawford, Texas with the president. Now you are on the phone right behind the line of police, I understand, here in Quebec City.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Stephen, just to give you some sort of reference point, I'm sort of directly across from the perimeter on the other side of town, really from where John King has been reporting to you -- I believe the western perimeter side. I think you're seeing these live pictures.

What you have is basically a row, looks to be about 100 or so police officers in riot gear, basically, just standing here. You will have, sort of, a handful of protesters who will come in the middle of the street, who will approach the police, sometimes maybe tossing things. At which point the police fire a little tear gas here and there. I mean it is a relatively calm situation here with a sort of a flare-up here and there as protesters will approach the police. But you just have the police sort of standing guard making sure these protesters don't get beyond and get into the perimeter where these meetings are taking place.

FRAZIER: Kelly, I'll ask you something that I asked John a little while earlier, and that is that in some of the meetings, for example, the World Economic Forum, there's no way for the workers inside to be aware of any of this, but we're looking at large buildings which, I presume are the gathering places which do have an overlook to this scene.

WALLACE: Oh, yes. It would be hard to believe -- I do, actually, funny enough, just as you mention, see some people on a roof top of an apartment building looking out. It is hard to believe that people throughout town, or in the perimeter are not aware of what the situation is and are watching.

As for, you know, whether this is having any impact, I know as you and John have been talking, the summit meetings don't officially get under way until a little bit later this evening. We do know that President Bush has been keeping his normal schedule and holding his meetings. We did get a report that the presidents of Bolivia and Brazil, I believe, were not able to make a meeting earlier this afternoon -- stayed behind at their hotel -- because of some security measures. But again it's hard to believe people within the perimeter are not aware of what's going on outside.

FRAZIER: Indeed, Kelly. Well we are going to step away here for a break. It was interesting a moment ago we saw a reporter with the CBC holding a huge chunk of concrete which has been thrown around by protesters. It gives you some sense of how that would leave a mark if it were to hit anyone here.

Anyway, Kelly, we're going step back for a short break. And we want to let our viewers know that in 13 minutes, at 5:30 Eastern time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police an to grace us with a news conference updating us on what's been happening so far. CNN, of course, will bring that to our viewers live, and we will continue our coverage up to the that point, but for now, a short break. Stay with us, and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FRAZIER: Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the events in Quebec City as we speak. We want to go directly to Kelly Wallace, our White House correspondent, who is behind this line of police and who, we understand has been gassed. Kelly, are you all right?

WALLACE: I'm fine, Stephen. Wearing a gas mask, so I am OK. But what you get is sort of the stop and start. You'll have the protesters coming close to the police, and then the police will fire a little bit of tear gas. They just fired a couple of shots just a short time ago, and that put the protesters back. But it is this sort of a few handful of protesters coming very close to the police. Most of the other protesters, dozens are so, are much further down the block. So again, it's basically a situation where a few protesters, seem to get too close, and then the police will fire some tear gas. That seems to be what's been happening for at least the past 45 minutes or so since we've been out on this western side of the perimeter here.

FRAZIER: Indeed, what we had described to us by Mike Armstrong of Global TV, was the ranking system use by these protesters. There are some who are planning green protests, and those are entirely peaceful and legal. Then there's yellow, which one protesters described to us on the phone as being a little more colorful, if you will. And then people who are protesting under the red flag intend to be arrested, and they intend to take actions which will get them confronted by and arrested by police.

WALLACE: What's interesting, and you and John have talked about this, it's sort of some divisions even within these coalitions. A, these protesters aren't all out here for one reason. They're out for a variety of reasons: some concerned about the impact of trade on the environment, others the impact on poor nations, on workers rights.

And there some who think that the protesters should take more of an aggressive stance, and so again, you do have some who believe they should be a little bit more aggressive and forceful. Others, I have been reading, preparing for the trip, some planning come in business suits and skirts and boots to just sort of blend in a little more to make their message known that way. So, some divisions in the approach, and not all the same message, but definitely all wanting their message to be heard.

FRAZIER: As we look at these pictures, Kelly, and I think I'd like to John Podesta, if he's still with us. I just want to mention that there are, in fact, other protests under way. One that is being reported out of Sao Paulo, Brazil sounds much more violent than this one, in fact, where crowds were throwing large rocks, also bottles and set off what now are though to be big firecrackers, but which were initially thought to be explosives in front of the State Federation of Industries, which is described by the Associated Press as a bastion of Brazilian capitalism.

Mr. Podesta, capitalism, of course, something we kind of connect with democracy in this part of the world.

PODESTA: Sure, and I think having a robust capitalist system is what produces jobs and it produces wealth and it produces wages for the kind of people that the people who are protesting really are concerned about. And the question is what's the best way to do that and what's the best way to address the concerns that I think are real; the environmental concerns, the labor concerns that are out there on the street.

I think that our administration believed opening markets and trying to create more cooperation between nations would lead to greater democracy, improve living standards in those countries as well as our own, and that's why the president pursued that. And I think President Bush is on a similar approach.

I think that one of the questions -- you know, I came into the studio to talk about his environmental policy over the last several months. I think one of the questions that's beginning to arise in this country is, in fact, the government's commitment to environmental protection, and those things are -- they interact interacts, I suppose, in a way, but hopefully they can be done peacefully and without violence and without the kind of real aggressive tactics that you're seeing now in Quebec City and in Sao Paulo.

FRAZIER: Right, let me just, before I ask you my next question, Mr. Podesta, just describe these scenes. These are pictures made on videotape a few moments ago. They're not live at this moment, but you can see the kind of face-to-face confrontation now as these ranks of police are confronted with their own tear gas canisters thrown back right at their feet.

Mr. Podesta, one of the things you saw in Washington as the World Bank was meeting was, of course, an opposition to the whole idea of the World Bank and the economic reforms that it requires of nations that would receive its largesse, its loans; some saying that the repayment schedules and the economic reform is very harsh for some economies.

PODESTA: Yes, I think more directed at the IMF, but I think that both of those institutions really have had to change as a result of some of the criticism that they have received. You mentioned the World Bank. The World Bank, I think, in its development mission is much more sensitive, I think, today about questions of what it's going to do to the indigenous environments that they're working than it was just a few short years ago.

And I think the same thing is true with the IMF. They have to listen, they have to respond to those criticisms, and one of the things I think all these institutions have to do, whether it's a summit meeting like this or the World Bank or the WTO, is they have to open up more, they have to let the sunlight shine in a little bit more. It can't be just a series of discussions amongst people behind closed doors who are trying to set, if you will, the world economic order. They have to be able to engage in dialogue, show what they are doing, put it up to public debate in the countries that being affected and let the people decide through a democratic process.

FRAZIER: Indeed, it runs the risk of looking like technocrats who work under cover of darkness. Well, let me take you back. At the time of the World Bank...

PODESTA: Let me mention one particular thing, again, that's sort of relevant to this. One of the things that President Clinton did toward the end of the administration was put in place an executive order that required an environmental review of all new trade agreements. I think that's very critical in moving forward. I hope this administration continues to embrace that idea. It's a little bit questionable, given where they've been on some of the other environmental policies we pursued. But I think that was very important in terms of buying in some support from the mainstream environmental constituencies in this country that we cared about the environment and were going to protect the environment even as we pursued a strategy of trying to open up more trade.

FRAZIER: Well, I'm grateful for your explaining those provisions. That's exactly the sort of thing David Smith was talking to us about when he joined us from the AFL-CIO a moment ago. And help me now, because my memory is failing me, but I recall that the World Bank and IMF both were involved in one country in South America that was basically underwater following hurricanes, and I can't remember if it was Honduras or another one, and the issue that we were discussing a few years ago was what would happen -- how would their loans be rescheduled? How could they ever pay back without running up huge penalties because they were running late because their country was basically underwater.

PODESTA: Well, I think that we've seen that in terms of natural disasters around the world, and I think those are places where the world community really needs to come together and for the very poorest countries, that's what the initiatives on debt relief have been all about, to provide relief of the debt of those countries so that those monies could be use, instead of just for debt repayment, to be used for health programs, for education programs, to meet the vital needs of people in the very poorest countries around the world.

With regard to countries that are maybe not so poor, the loans can be stretched out, and, obviously, attention needs to be paid through aid and through other mechanisms to be able to deal with natural disasters when they occur.

FRAZIER: Well, that helps a lot in bringing some specifics to these rather abstract policy discussions, so thank you, John Podesta, for that. We want to let our viewers know that as we step away here for a short break, that upon our return, we'll be going to Quebec City where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be starting a news conference in just a couple of minutes, and as they do that, I will be handing off here to Judy Woodruff in our Washington bureau, who is going to continue our live coverage from there.

I'd like to thank you all for joining us through the start of this afternoon, and ask that you continue to join us as we approach the opening ceremonies of the Summit of the Americas and the unofficial ceremonies which are happening on the streets outside. But for now, we take a break. Stay with us, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington, taking over our live coverage of events in Quebec City from my colleague, Stephen Frazier in Atlanta. These are live pictures from Quebec City where the leaders of some 33, 34 nations in this hemisphere, the Western Hemisphere, have gathered to meet, to discuss trade, to discuss free trade. And instead of being able to get together to hold their meetings, you can see, if you have been watching over the last few hours, what has been going on. Hundreds of police have been moved into the streets in riot gear, having to form a line to keep these protesters, whose numbers were well over a thousand when they began -- now appeared to have dwindled some, but there is no telling when those numbers might swell again.

There have been arrests, there have been a few minor injuries, but at this point it is primarily a battle back and forth. Tear gas canisters, some minor objects being thrown back and forth. CNN's senior White House correspondent John King is there in Quebec City, covering the trip of President George W. Bush.

John, can you bring us up to date from where you are, and tell us exactly where you are?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, I am where our U.S. media filing center is just inside one of the perimeters here at the Summit of the Americas site. About 100 yards from where I'm standing, several dozen police officers forming. It was at that site, and we had the pictures of it just a few moments ago, they were actually repairing one of the breaches, one of several breaches in the perimeter, these past two hours or so, caused by the protesters.

And as you mentioned, the police have been responding with tear gas -- some of that still wafting, but a relative calm right now. , the official opening ceremony for the 34-nation summit still a little less than an hour away. But obviously, the protesters already making their marks. As we speak now, I can hear some chants and applause. And we should note for the record that the larger protest not planned until into the weekend, when the summit is in full swing.

But already, President George W. Bush here, as you mentioned, several of his meetings disrupted, attendance at them limited, because of the protests here. The presidents of Bolivia and Brazil missing one meeting with the president. At least five leaders from the Caribbean missing a later meeting with the president.

We're told President Bush has been advised about this, told why the leaders didn't come, told about the scene outside. No official comment from him yet about the protest.

We're also told that First Lady Laura Bush was watching from the top floor of a hotel where she was, and she was looking out with several top aides, looking down at the scene below, as police tried to disperse the protesters. And again, at several points, they broke through the perimeter. Just as we speak again, I'm looking about 100 yards up the hill at another spot near the perimeter. Now you see more tear gas wafting through now, and I can pick up the scent of it. And unfortunately, the other affects of it as I speak to you at this moment.

A couple dozen police officers standing there in full riot gear. That was one spot where there was a breach in the perimeter -- a concrete barrier about 2 1/2, 3 feet high, a very tall chain-link fence on top of that. The police broke through and they had tried to restore it.

And I can't see the bottom of the hill, so I don't know if there's been another problem. But they have just fired some more tear gas in the past few seconds.

Again, of course, why are these people here protesting? The main goal of this summit, a free trade area of the Americas. That would be an open market of some 800 million people, stretching from the Arctic to Argentina. The protesters believe that would lead to exploitation of workers, especially in the poorer nations, and significant damage to the environment.

This scene, somewhat similar to the scene we had a year or so back during the Seattle meetings of the World Trade Organization. The police here prepared, based on the lessons of Seattle, but the protesters studied that example as well. And here, even before the summit has begun, Judy, they've had some success in disrupting things already.

WOODRUFF: John, how different -- you were in Seattle. How different does this feel from what was going on there?

KING: Well, in Seattle, there was looting, there was significant damage to a number of businesses. The protesters were allowed to get quite close to the leaders at some points. It's one of the reasons -- this is a hilled city, Quebec City, and the meetings themselves, in an area that has walled off, fenced off. And it was the hope of the police coming in that the protesters would be kept outside and at a good distance from the leaders.

None of the leaders in any personal risk, we should make clear, that we know of, but certainly, these protesters, on day one, and again, even before the summit has officially begun, have been able to get through the perimeter at least two point that I know of. And I think, perhaps, even once or twice more than that.

So the police had studied the lessons of Seattle. They had hoped to keep the protesters at a safer distance. But so far, the protesters have made themselves heard, and have obviously disrupted things here. We know of one officer taken to a hospital. We're told he was struck in the head with a crowbar. And we're told there have been a few, three or four, arrests so far. That was about a half an hour ago.

And we are waiting, of course, for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to brief us on what has happened here so far, and we'll get more details then. But the police thought they had learned a lot from Seattle and from that World Bank meeting in Washington. They thought they could keep the protesters at a safer distance. And again, we should make clear, relatively modest number of protesters on hand here today. Larger events planned throughout the weekend.

WOODRUFF: All right. John King, feeling some effects from the tear gas, and his colleague Kelly Wallace, also White House correspondent for CNN.

Kelly, I understand you're closer to the tear gas, closer to the police lines.

Kelly is on a beeper phone. And Kelly, obviously, if -- if you are not able to talk...

WALLACE: Atlanta?

WOODRUFF: We more than understand.

I was -- John King, just as you were speaking there toward the end, I was told by our producer that Kelly had -- I guess come under considerable tear gas and was having a tough time with it. We are going to give her time to -- Kelly, are there now?

WALLACE: I am, Judy. I am here now. I have a gas mask on, but there was just a number of shots all at once, and sort of feeling the effects right here.

Where I am, to give you a point of reference, I'm sort of directly on the opposite side of the perimeter. I'm told -- I think it's the Western perimeter, from where John King has just been reporting to you from.

And here there are, you know, dozens of police sort of standing in a line, a standoff developing, obviously, with the protesters. Slowly, the police have sort of been moving forward, and moving their line closer and closer -- away from the fence and to where the protesters are gathering.

And so what we're seeing is a handful of protesters who will come up close to the police, maybe throw something. But often just get very close, at which point you would see the police fire a shot or two of tear gas, and then the crowd -- again, it's just a handful of people at the moment close to the police -- more dozens of protesters further down the block. But again, the police seem to be slowly making their way away from the fence and further down to keep the protesters from getting beyond the fence, or getting into the perimeter area where their leaders are meeting.

WOODRUFF: Kelly, I think these pictures we're looking at here are on videotape. They're not live. But we are looking at pictures of some of the protesters being taken away individually. Some of them being surrounded by five or six police. We see one -- again, I think this is videotape. It's not live -- protesters being walked away.

Some of these were down on the ground. I think the police had put them in that position. Kelly, from your perspective. John was talking about how authorities thought they had the situation worked out. They had studied what happened in Seattle and elsewhere. They thought they had it worked out so that these meetings could go on.

I guess for those of us who are not there. and looking on, it's a little difficult to comprehend. Why couldn't they work something out so that these meetings could go on? WALLACE: One interesting thing, as you and John talked about, they did put up this chain-link fence, making a perimeter around the area, to prevent exactly what's happening, to try and keep these protesters from getting inside.

Whether or not that increased tensions because people, the protesters, have tried to come close to the fences -- one fence in front of me that I can see here has been damaged. But again, the protesters are well beyond, you know. So that is, you know, something that they tried to do.

I think that it's important to stress, though, that the police for the most part, the ones that are in front of me, about a dozen or so, kind of standing in a line, not reacting until need to react. They basically are standing, and then when a protester will come too close, they might, you know, fire some tear gas.

Since I have been here, about an hour, I have seen a couple, a handful of people, maybe two people or three people have been taken. It looks like they were taken into custody. But no, you know, nothing more than that at this point from the vantage point where I am.

WOODRUFF: So basically, what you and John are saying is that whatever they put up, the protesters are able to surmount it and to get through it.

WALLACE: Well, they certainly able get close to it. They have not necessarily been able to kind of penetrate the fences and get inside where the leaders are gathering and meeting, and where this summit will get under way, but they are certainly trying to get as close as they can, and, you know, they are, again, out here trying to make their presence known.

WOODRUFF: But even if they can't get into the meeting, they are preventing the meetings from taking place, which at least so far -- now we don't know what will happen when the official ceremonies scheduled to get under way. We were told that was at 6:30 Eastern, which is just about 45 minutes from now. We don't know -- or at least I don't have a clear picture of whether they are going to be able to put any of that together. It doesn't sound like it at this point.

WALLACE: Well, I mean, you are exactly right. Maybe while the protesters, you know, have not been able to sort of penetrate the perimeter where the meetings are being held, they are certainly making their presence known and are causing quite a disruption.

As John was reporting, a number of leaders not able to attend their scheduled meetings. And whether or not this is going to have, you know, an impact in the event which gets under way later this evening, it's not clear. So they certainly are creating quite a presence, and something that the police on this end of the block here are watching very closely.

WOODRUFF: John King, back to you. What are you hearing about the meeting that was scheduled to get under way at 6:30 Eastern? KING: Well, Judy, we are told the opening ceremonies have now been pushed back an hour. It was supposed to be at 6:30, it will now be at 7:30, we are told.

And I want to make clear just on the discussions of the meetings. Some meetings are taking place, but certainly they are being disrupted. The official summit-opening ceremony is tonight. There is a dinner planned tonight. The actual business of the summit not scheduled to begin until tomorrow.

What happens in advance of these things? Getting-to-know-you meetings, some business meetings, some discussions about the issues, perhaps on the side of the summit. President Bush has met already with the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and he has had meetings with regional leaders, but it's just that some of the presidents have not been able to make it because of the security.

The presidents of Bolivia and Brazil missing one of those meetings. At least five other leaders from the Caribbean nations missing that meeting. Now, those were very brief, informal meetings, mostly for the president to get the first opportunity to meet these leaders.

Remember, this is President Bush's second trip out of the United States. It is his first summit. So we should be careful in noting that the protesters have disrupted things, and they have certainly limited attendance at some of President Bush's meetings, and they forced the postponed by one hour of the opening ceremony of the summit.

No official summit business derailed as yet, but certainly this, on the opening day, I think safe to say, much more of a disruption than the police had anticipated, and certainly than they would have liked.

WOODRUFF: Well, John, let me just -- to get this straight. So, how much of the whole area are we seeing here? Is this just one small section of Quebec, the Old Quebec City? So that you are telling us that the rest of what is going on, those 33, 34 leaders are still going to be able to get to where they need to be at 7:30?

KING: Well, one of the reasons the ceremony was delayed, we can assume, is because leaders had trouble making it to the other meetings, so they wanted to take some more time to allow the police to re-establish the perimeter.

As Kelly noted, there was one point earlier where some protesters actually got through the fence and inside the perimeter, and we have seen, from the position where I am, two occasions where they have pushed through the fence and caused an opening, but certainly in no great numbers has anyone come through the perimeter. The police have had to re-establish that perimeter.

So, it -- what appears to be happening more than anything is that the protesters are moving about the perimeter, making their presence known and testing the police, seeing where they get through. And in a few of those occasions, things have gotten somewhat violent, at least somewhat testy, with the shaking of the fence and the breaking through of the barrier. You saw in some of the videotape we've been showing, at least one of the protesters there forced to the ground by the police.

Relatively, most of the protests have been peaceful. At the site where I am standing, about 100 yards in front of me, the spot where they tried to break through the perimeter. Yet, 40 or 50 yards behind, there have been some peaceful protesters on and off throughout the day. So, things have been disrupted, and certainly it is no secret to the leaders here what is going on.

Quite an interesting scene, the official greeting ceremony, as each president arrives indoors. They would come down the escalator. There was a band playing and an honor guard on hand, and we would have pictures of that coming in, a live picture of that coming in, while at the same time, some of what you are seeing now out in the streets as well. So, quite a dichotomy in the pictures.

WOODRUFF: Now, if you are just tuning in to our coverage, our live coverage, this has taken precedence, obviously, over regularly scheduled programming at this hour, which would have been INSIDE POLITICS. These are live pictures from Quebec City where President Bush and the leaders of some 33 other nations have gathered for the third summit of Western Hemisphere, heads of state.

Also joining us from the streets, streets of Quebec City, Brian Lilley, a correspondent with CINW, which is a CNN-affiliated radio station, or a collection of radio stations there in Canada. Brian Lilley, can you hear me? And if you can, tell us what you are seeing?

LILLEY: Well, right now, I'm watching a couple of protesters throwing a frisbee back and forth in front of the police line that has replaced the fenced barricade. Others are riding their bikes back and forth.

It's been like this all day, when there have not been skirmishes with tear gas. These are various methods of trying to taunt police. Other times, it's been with -- jesters with throwing snowballs. There's still some snow here in Quebec City, if you can believe that that's hasn't melted away. That's been pelted.

And there are a number of people outside of this immediate area that are being treated for tear gas exposure, or some of the people that have picked tear gas canisters to throw them back at the police. It has been back and forth all day with the demonstrators. But the police have been able to take about two city blocks back from where the -- back from the protesters, in front of where the original fence perimeter was.

WOODRUFF: Brian Lilley with CINW, from your perspective, why have the protesters -- let me put it this way, did the police just underestimate the ability of these protesters to get through?

LILLEY: Well, I'm not sure why the fence was so easy to come down. It was -- I was standing perhaps 60 feet from where the group of protesters that took down the fence were at another section of the fence. And it seems to come down far easier than any of us had expected.

As far as the police response, I think they are using this to send a message. Because this is only a small fraction of the number of protesters that are expected. The estimates I've heard are between 3,000 and 5,000, but the estimate for the weekend have been between 20,000 and 30,000 protesters, between tonight and tomorrow, where there is an official demonstration from the organizers of the People's Summit, which is and alternative summit of labor, environmental student groups that's going on just outside the perimeter.

WOODRUFF: But those are just estimates, right? We don't know for a fact that there are more than 20,000 coming, is that correct?

LILLEY: No, no, we don't at this point. But in speaking with the police, they said that they wanted to make sure that no one breached the barricades. Obviously, that did happen, and so, their response has been strong but fair for the most part.

They are at this point just in a standoff with the protesters. There's no charging. They have been firing volleys of tear gas when they want to take back ground, or when protesters are rushing, but it has not been overly violent. And surprisingly, unlike other protests, we have not seen the protesters resort to smashing store windows or windows of banks. In fact, just behind me, there's a bank building from the parent company of CIBC Oppenheimer, a Wall Street firm that has not been touched. And those windows are not boarded up at all, whereas other -- many other businesses in this area are completely boarded up.

WOODRUFF: All right, Brian Lilley, with CINW, a CNN affiliate, coming to us -- one of our radio affiliates in Canada.

As we watch these pictures, this now you're looking at videotape over the last few hours of the situation on the streets in Quebec City, where the Summit of the Americas is about to get under way. We just heard from our reporter John King that the official opening ceremonies have been pushed back one hour. They were to begin at 6:30, they're now expected to begin at 7:30.

As we keep a very close watch on the streets of Quebec City, we're going to take a very short break. We'll be right back.

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