As expected, violent protests took place today in honor of the G20 summit. Parts of London were filled with demonstrators, police, and the media. If the CCTV cameras really were shut down, don’t worry: there will be ample record of the events on film and video. In some of the crowd scenes, the photographers and videographers seemed to outnumber the demonstrators.
The demonstrators broke windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland and fought with police. According to The Daily Mail:
UK: Protesters Storm RBS Office as Thousands of Anti-Capitalists Ransack the City in G20 Riot
Hundreds of anarchists are still on the rampage this evening after the G20 protests descended into violence earlier today.
As the chaos in London’s Square Mile continues, more police have been drafted in wearing riot gear and police dogs are on the scene to disperse the crowds.
Several officers were injured and a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland targeted by drunken troublemakers.
So far, 32 people had been taken into custody. Eleven of the arrests were made this morning after officers found police uniforms in the back of an armoured vehicle parked in the City of London.
Others were made for violent disorder, threatening behaviour, indecency and one for possessing Class A drugs.
A violent mob with their faces covered by bandanas broke into the RBS building after windows at its entrance were smashed.
Visit the above link for lots of photographs. And here’s a video of some of the action:
From Reuters comes this news about the Four Horsemen, and they aren’t the ones I recall from my eschatological studies:
Earlier, protesters marched behind models of the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” representing financial crimes, war, climate change and homelessness.
OK, war I can understand — that’s an old standard. But “climate change” and “homelessness”? No pestilence, famine, and death? What kind of lily-livered horsemen are these?
Is this perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury’s rewrite of the Book of Revelation?
The article continues:
– – – – – – – – –
Some threw eggs at police and chanted “build a bonfire, put the bankers on the top.” Others shouted “jump” and “shame on you” at financial sector workers watching the march from office block windows.
“I am angry at the hubris of the government, the hubris of the bankers,” said Jean Noble, a 60-year-old from Blackburn in northern England.
“I am here on behalf of the poor, those who are not going to now get their pension or who have lost their houses while these fat cats keep their bonuses, hide their money in tax havens and go and live where nobody can touch them.”
Police said they had deployed one of Britain’s biggest security operations to protect businesses, the Bank of England, the London Stock Exchange and other financial institutions.
And there’s this interesting detail:
Police stopped a military-style armored vehicle with the word “RIOT” printed on the front and a police spokesman said its 11 occupants were arrested for having fake police uniforms.
Sky News had this to say (and there’s more video at the link):
Anger at bankers’ role in the global economic downturn and frustration at slow progress in tackling climate change prompted thousands to take to the streets in the capital.
Four protest marches converged on the Bank of England after setting off along separate routes as helicopters circled overhead.
City workers leaned out of windows and waved £10 notes at demonstrators on the streets below, who responded with jeers and shouts.
A group of officers was forced to retreat behind metal crowd barriers outside the Bank, apparently because of the crush of the crowd in front of them.
Missiles — including fruit — were thrown towards police as red smoke rose above the crowd.
One protester, who was bleeding from a wound to his head, was seen shouting at police officers who had formed a line in front of them.
Another demonstrator dressed in black then ran forward and hit an officer with a pole.
A lengthy report can be found at Bloomberg:
London G-20 Protesters Clash Near Bank of England
April 1 (Bloomberg) — Protesters clashed with police outside the Bank of England and broke into a Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc branch in demonstrations on the eve of the Group of 20 meeting in London.
Police in riot gear, on horseback and officers with dogs moved in to surround demonstrators who smashed windows and entered an RBS branch near the central bank in London’s financial district, the City. Officers removed protesters from the building.
As many as 4,000 marchers were outside the Bank of England for the protest, called “Financial Fools Day,” which began just before noon local time, police said. As the demonstrators assembled, pre-summit talks started with a visit by President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street residence.
“This is about making it shameful to be a banker,” said Annabel Acton, 25, a consultant. “I’ve come here today so we can engage in a peaceful protest and vent our anger against the greed of the financial institutions. They are dealers in death and intent on oppressing us.”
A second demonstration, organized by anti-war activists, began around 2 p.m. near London’s American Embassy at Grosvenor Square and drew several thousand people.
Marchers scuffled with police in riot gear near the Bank of England. Television pictures showed one officer being hit in the head with a stick by a protester, and several demonstrators with bloodied heads were seen near the bank.
There was also a carnival atmosphere, with marchers carrying whistles, drums and signs reading “abolish money,” and “capitalism kills.” They hung the effigy of a banker from traffic lights and scrawled “built on blood” on the wall of the Bank of England.
“I’m protesting on behalf of over-50s who have been prudent with savings all their lives and are now getting nothing on their savings,” said Neil Scanton, 55, a computer consultant who is out of work. “I’m just an average guy, not an anarchist or anti-capitalist. There are thousands out there like me who are very angry.”
U.K. unemployment rose to more than 2 million in February as more people joined jobless rolls than at any time since 1971.
Now here’s where it gets interesting — financial-sector employees deliberately down-marketed themselves so as not to look like capitalist pigs and thus attract the attention of the mob:
Three financial-sector workers wearing casual clothes as they traveled to work said they had been told to “dress down” for the day to avoid the attention of protesters. They declined to give their names.
But not all of them:
Tom Allen, 42, from New York, who arrived at his London office in a J. Press pinstripe suit and red tie, said he would be doing business as usual so had dressed as usual. Allen said he had been asked not to say where he works.
“I didn’t give it a tremendous amount of thought,” he said. “I wear a suit every day and I’m not going to live in fear.”
And the Orthodox Green Sect was out in force:
Several hundred activists set up a “climate camp” outside the European Climate Exchange in Bishopsgate, shutting the road, to protest against the market in carbon emissions.
Lucy Wills, a marketing consultant who painted her skin blue and wore a green wig, said she’s concerned about rising sea levels and that carbon trading isn’t working.
“It allows people to emit carbon without guilt,” she said, adding that she intends to join the climate camp. “It’s like a credit card for carbon emissions — buy now, pay later.”
Police ringed the exchange’s office and set up barriers, though the campers were allowed to block the street.
And, as usual, British blogosphere supplies the most quotable remarks about the day’s events. I’ll let one of the bloggers have the last word:
Financial Fools Day
Fools pretending to be protestors. Terrorists pretending to be protestors. Vandals pretending to be protestors. Greenies, Beardies, Trots, Commies, Scroungers, Losers and Wasters all pretending to be protestors. They are not protestors, they are f***wits.
What were they protesting for… they weren’t. They were protesting against. Against everything that most people want in life.
These f***wits state that they speak for the population of Britain. No they don’t, they speak only for the idiots that support their cause. They are not interested in anyone else. They are happy to use violence and vandalism to get their message across. They are thugs, idiots and hypocrites.
Much beefing up of the Police in the blogosphere (I am guilty of this too). The only Coppers interested in starting a riot are the PoliticoPolice, those that stand to gain reward from Labour. The types that belong to Acpo. The ones at the very top. The ones have spent today, sat in ‘Head-Quarters’, staring at CCTV monitors fed by 3000 cameras, watching the ‘real Coppers’ out on the street.
The Copper on the ground doesn’t want a riot. The regular Copper has been set up by his master (and he/she knows it). If they suppress trouble, those as the top will take all the glory. If they are seen to be inflaming it, they will be hung out to dry. Like the rest of us, the average Copper can’t win. He is just a pawn in the big Political Game.
I have watched the footage this afternoon, and I don’t care what anyone says, the Coppers on the ground have conducted themselves with great skill. And they should be applauded. It is very easy to see them as a group that ply the wares of this Labour Government and it is easy to forget that all those Coppers are just people like you and me. I myself, in the last couple of weeks have been swept up by the whole ‘Plod is out to get us’ way of thinking.
It is easy to forget that whilst I, as a member of the public, hate the restrictions this Government sees fit to put upon me. What I can drink, what I can eat, where I can smoke, what I can think etc… the average Copper also has to put up with this, and then when he/she goes to work there are more restrictions, targets, rules etc to follow. The average Copper isn’t the stooge of this Government, it is the fall guy. And I have only just realised this (another Mummy learning curve).
All those Coppers, on the ground, in London today, are real, down to earth people. They are members of the Public. They have families, mortgages, bills and commitments. Just like the rest of us. They are involved in the protests today. But not by choice. They have to be there. The thugs, idiots and terrorists (check your dictionary) get to cover their faces whilst they vandalise property and assault the Coppers. The Coppers don’t get this privilege. They are there for all to see. If they have to use a shield, a baton, a taser, CS Gas or just their hands to protect THEMSELVES, they will be scrutinised. They could be punished. They could lose everything. They are the fall guys. Just like our Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These Coppers can’t say no. They have to attend these protests.
But in the real world, they are just like you and me.
Hat tips: Gaia, KGS.