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article imageAll Night Camp Out Planned In Streets of London for G20 Protests Special

By Lisa Devaney     Apr 1, 2009 in Politics
Protesters set up camp in London in response to G20 summit to bring attention to climate change, while bursts of violence between police and demonstrators take place throughout the day.
Whether it was anger over banker’s bonuses, climate change, poverty or losing value on pensions, thousands of people were compelled to take to London’s streets today in orchestrated protests staged across the city, in a mostly peaceful demonstration prior to tomorrow’s G20 summit.
Anger flared between police and some demonstrators, when windows were smashed at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the city’s Square Mile, causing tension to increase near the heart of activities at the Bank of England. Following violent exchanges between a minority of activists, police blocked off most roads leading into the area of Threadneedle Street and refused entry or exit for those protesting. The blockade, with police lining up in full riot gear, raised tensions among some trying to leave the area and escalated altercations, resulting in arrests and fights between police and protesters.
A stream of four protest parades converged on the city early in the day, lead by four horses representing key issues of concern for demonstrators. Organized by a group called G20 Meltdown, the horses represented concern of war, climate change, financial crimes and one dedicated to land enclosures and borders with a tribute to the 360th anniversary of the Diggers.
As the majority of protesters converged upon the Bank of England, other events organized about the city with members of Climate Camp setting up an encampment near the European Climate Exchange at Bishopsgate, with plans to stay all night. This gathering included a composting toilet, a farmer’s market and hot food. Participants set up tents and planned to spend the night, while hosting workshops for environmental issues and having live music and poetry performances.
Police in Riot Gear
Police blocked roads to Bank of England to secure protest activity
Lisa Devaney
Ellie Toolan, a student who travelled from Leeds to be part of Climate Camp said:
“It feels nice to be here doing something positive, and it is important to show G20 there are a substantial amount of people willing to campaign against climate change.”
As protesters made a winding path through the city, many office workers watched out the windows as the spectacle unfolded, smiling and sometimes waving at the passers-by. Most employees took heed of the police warnings to not wear suits and showed up in casual wear, or didn’t come into the office at all. The city centre was quiet, with many office workers out and a limited number of commuters travelled into the city in business suits today.
Billed by G20 Meltdown as a street party for those who may have lost their homes, jobs, savings or pensions from the financial crisis, most gathered to find live music, dance, and playful bubbles being blown into the air. For some the experience turned difficult when bursts of violence sparked among the crowd, mostly instigated by those who covered their faces in masks and described themselves as anarchists.
Seb Klier of War On Want
Protester carrying a dead canary to symbolize the end of city finance.
Lisa Devaney
Chirs Knight , identified as the mastermind behind the colourful demonstrations of G20 Meltdown, appeared dressed in white face and top hat as a “financial fool” and called for the overthrow of Gordon Brown’s government. Knight, who has been suspended from his job as a professor at the University of East London, over his involvement and proclamations threatening bankers, drew a crowd of media and onlookers.
With a throng of various interest groups involved today, protest banners demanded everything from abolishing money, to ending war to ending greed. The group War On Want carried a dead canary to symbolize the death of city finance and was in attendance to campaign against poverty and support worker’s rights.
“Today presents a dissenting voice that wouldn’t otherwise be in the public domain, because democracy can be a closed door, secretive process,” said Seb Klier, from War On Want. “We hope for a much longer lasting grassroots movement to build from today and be an alternative to what we currently have.”
Thousands protest in London streets for G20
File photo: Protesters converge on Bank of England
Lisa Devaney
In the crowd was an older woman who brandished a handmade sign pleading “Mr. Brown Stop The Banks Shitting on Us” and was part of a contingent from the National Savers and Pensions Union. Other signs screamed:“Banks are evil!”, “Consumerism Sucks”, “Democracy is an illusion!” and “Justice for slippery banking turds!”
The protests continue in the city tonight and early morning plans are in works to go to the Excel Centre in Canning Town, where the world’s leaders are gathering for the G20 Summit.
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