G20 protests rock London’s financial area – 01 Apr 09
While the differences between the big G20 players were quietly discussed behind closed doors, out on the streets of London there was real anger.
Thousands crowded into London’s financial centre to make their protests heard.
Hamish MacDonald was there. AlJazeeraEnglish
G20 What happened at the Bank Of England
After a peaceful and carnival like protest at the Bank Of England Police Prevented thousands of protesters from leaving the protest many of them wanting to attend the 2pm Stop the War Demonstration. Peaceful protesters aggrieved at not being allowed to leave the demonstration became ever more annoyed however remained peaceful. There was no access to food water or toilets. No one was attacking any bank or any person. People had to pee in the streets which the gutters soon filled up. Bankers did attend the protest were inside the cordon and engaged in peaceful banter with protesters and no violence ensued form this. There was a carnival party atmosphere as promoters had advertised.
A recent government MP’s report which condemned Police for interfering with legitimate peaceful protest in three ways. These were 1. Intimidating protesters by photographing and acting aggressively towards them. 2. Unlawfully Detaining them in cordons and not allowing them to go about their democratic right to peacefully demonstrate 3. Using laws not meant to be applied to protest such as the Harassment Act and the Anti Terror Act.
It has been seen by protesters that the police are trying to keep people away from protests and their detention of large crowds of peaceful protesters is not only illegal it is the Police acting as a political wing of the Government when it should be unbiased and not deliberately frustrate freedom of speech.
After 2 1/2 hours protesters were still not reacting to being cordoned in. Things remained calm until Police allowed the protesters to head down Queen Victoria Road towards mansion house. The protesters thought they were all being allowed to leave. A calm atmosphere continued until almost Mansion House station where at the corner of Queen Victoria Road and Queen Street a small Group of Police Baton Charged protesters and beat several of them trying to form a new cordon and push people back up towards the Bank Of England. The Police were then surrounded and outnumbered for a short while. Nobody was attacking what appeared to be a small group of vulnerable riot police stuck in the middle of a crowd they had just baton charged. The crowd could have easily turned on them and they didn’t. It was not clear immediately as to why the police let people leave the demonstration then attacked them shortly afterwards.
It however did become clear that Police were re-enforcing from this end of the city and the Police resources such as about 10 of the new black anti terror trucks (a resource/ toy not yet used) with the grates over the windows and hundreds of more riot police were stationed at the end of the road where they let people out of the original cordon. It would appear that police let people out of their 2 hour detention and led them straight towards the baton charge.
The police admit one of their tactics is to cordon protesters in a cordon. No police officer could say if they had evoked section 14 legislation for fear of violence. They cited common law however would not explain what part of this they were detaining people under. One officer told us it was because someone let off a firework.
It would appear that protests which have little or no police presence are largely peaceful. Ones where people are cordoned in and detained for over two hours annoys people and incites what may have otherwise been peaceful. Recent incidents in January included Police Leading thousands of protesters into the Hyde park Corner Underpass telling them it was the way to the protest outside the Israeli Embassy. Before a baton Charge in the Tunnel (and out of site of the camera’s)
At no point were people being told why they were being detained and were not given access to water or sanitary facilities. It was however interesting that within about 5 minutes of leaving the protest being one of the few to make it out that I walked past the new riot vehicles heading towards the Bank. I looked down to see the Evening Standards News Flyer outside a News Agent. It said ‘Police in Battle with rioters over the City’. It would appear that protesters kept calm for so long that they needed to incite something so that the already printed evening standard would in fact read true.