Wed 1 Apr 2009 15:18
Categories: All Posts , ASShattery , Stupidity Should Be Painful
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Note: Russell Brand photo is further down in the story.
Hundreds of anarchists went on the rampage this afternoon as the G20 protests descended into violence.
Several police officers were injured and a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland targeted as drunken troublemakers brought chaos to London’s Square Mile.
A violent mob with their faces covered by bandanas broke into the RBS building after windows at its entrance were smashed.
An injured protester argues with police as anti-capitalist and climate change activists rampage through the city
Storming the banks: Demonstrators smashed windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland building in the City and went inside
RBS had to be bailed out by the Government last autumn and has been widely condemned for giving its former chief executive a £16million pension.
Sir Fred Goodwin, who led the bank to the brink of collapse, has become the focus of public anger over the financial crisis.
Police prevent protesters from accessing a branch of RBS
Hundreds of protesters cheered as a blue office chair was used to smash one of the blacked-out branch windows.
The violence came despite an unprecedented police presence due to the protests over tomorrow’s G20 summit and Barack Obama’s visit.
Outnumbered: A policeman tries to keep the crowds at bay
Witnesses said a metal pole was also used to smash a way in to the building.
Graffiti was also daubed on the side of the building as other demonstrators threw eggs and flour.
Around the bank, crowds charged police lines as officers hit back with baton charges.
City workers added to the febrile atmosphere by waving money from their office windows and shouting insults at the protesters.
Violence erupted after around 4,000 people were penned in by officers outside the Bank of England as riot vans blocked off surrounding streets.
Scotland Yard said the situation was deteriorating with ‘increasing levels of violence’.
Attack: A masked man smashes the window of the RBS building
Fortunately the bank was empty because RBS had warned employees to stay away during the protests.
There was security in place but this had to be bolstered by police as the protests turned ugly.
An RBS spokesman said: ‘We are aware of the violence… The safety of our employees and our customers is of paramount importance to us.
‘We had already taken the precautionary step of closing selected City of London branches, including the Threadneedle branch.’
Injured: A bandaged woman is led into a police vehicle – and a policeman covered in red paint sprayed by a demonstrator
By 2.30pm, the protesters had been evicted from the premises and police in riot gear supported by mounted officers had forced the crowd back down the road.
A police helicopter hovered overhead as the officers tried to get the crowds under control. They were heard chanting ‘shame on you’ and hurled missiles.
Scotland Yard said a ‘number’ of people had been arrested in connection with the RBS attack.
By 3pm, 19 people had been taken into custody in total and the cordon surrounding the area relaxed.
Eleven of the arrests were 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.
Observers spotted many demonstrators drinking and smoking cannabis as they swarmed towards the City this morning.
Police in riot gear block access to a branch of RBS
On a mission: Hooded protesters, many of them women, were prominent
Bankers and other office workers were warned to stay away or dress down to avoid being targeted by people furious at the financial crisis.
Four separate demonstrations were taking place across the capital as world leaders held frantic talks to discuss tomorrow’s summit.
Most proved peaceful but the flashpoint was inevitably in the City as thousands gathered outside the Bank of England.
Hundreds more were prevented from entering the area by police and started running battles with officers.
Masked and hooded men also tried to breach police lines to get to a climate camp in nearby Bishopsgate.
A climate change and anti-capitalist activist is tended to by a medic after being injured during a demonstration
Celebrity endorsement: Russell Brand pitched up at the Bank of England and immediately donned a mask before pulling it to one side
Police forced them back as they were pelted with empty beer cans, fruit and flour. At least one officer was seen with blood spurting from his head.
Chants of ‘f*** the police’ and ‘our street’ were heard as police reinforcements were drafted in.
There were ugly scenes as the protesters refused to fall back and goaded officers. Eventually they surged forward, forcing police to draw their batons.
Protesters clutched horses heads’ made from cloth and sticks and flags or figures of death and threw empty beers cans, fruit, flour and paint at officers.
Many suffered minor injuries and were seen bleeding from the head after police beat them back as they tried to force their way through.
Furious demonstrators let off smoke bombs as the mood turned ugly
The clashes came just as it seemed the protest, which was also attended by comedian Russell Brand, would pass off peacefully.
Wearing a black baggy woollen hat and with a small group of friends, Brand waved and gave the thumbs-up to fellow demonstrators.
He said: ‘I always come to these kind of things, I’m very interested. I am interested in learning and interested in why these people have come to this.
‘I wonder what alternatives there are and I think it makes people cogent of them. I think it’s also very beautiful.’
Asked to comment on the protests by Sky News, he said: ‘I’m not here to comment – I’m here to protest.’
He later escaped the police cordon to return to his home in North London.
Hundreds of demonstrators concealed their identities
The protesters included hundreds of hardened anarchists
At RBS, missiles including plastic bottles and toilet rolls were hurled at the sides of the building.
‘F*** the system’, ‘Beat inflation – eat the rich’, and ‘Scum’ were graffitied on to the building as people peered out from windows on the fourth floor.
Officers on horseback guarded the crowd as items, including coins and computer keyboards, were thrown.
A blue paint ball was hurled from the crowd and hit one of the concrete columns outside the bank, narrowly avoiding the head of one policeman trying to keep order.
The police desperately tried to shepherd the protesters, who were carrying banners proclaiming ‘Balls to the Banks’ and ‘Punish the looters’.
Security: Officers try to push back the crowds
Confrontation: Officers did not wear riot gear for the operation
Businesses surrounding the Bank of England were boarded up and dozens of officers guarded each entrance as the protesters congregated outside.
Former financial worker Caroline Carter, 49, from Chertsey in Surrey, wore a T-shirt with a picture of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and the word ‘traitor’.
She said: ‘Believe you me, this is going to get a lot worse by the end of this year. I suggest the bankers give up some of their pensions and give something back to the community.’
Anger: One protester makes his point
All roads leading towards the Bank of England remained blocked this afternoon, with crowds gathering again shortly before 4pm.
But away from the police lines the protest took on a carnival air.
Music blared from speakers and street performers entertained crowds.
Many people were enjoying the sun, reclining in the middle of the road, playing cards, reading newspapers or just chatting amicably.
Various banners and posters were attached to street signs and lampposts, many showing a picture of the Grim Reaper and a pile of bank notes.
An effigy of a banker in a bowler hat was hung from a set of traffic lights, beneath which two street performers dressed as police with blue lipstick danced and juggled.
June Rogers, 52, a gardener from Battersea, south London, was at the protest with her friend, Keith Fassenfelt, 53, an artist from Earlsfield in south west London.
She said: ‘The police should let us all dribble out when we need to. We’ve just come on a peaceful protest.
‘We’ve got fire in our belly and we want to say something and be heard, we are just ordinary people but they have hemmed us in and made the situation worse.
‘At least I can say to my grandchildren that I did something, and now is the time with all the world leaders here – they must listen.’
Mr Fassenfelt chipped in: ‘They probably won’t listen. It hasn’t been a horrible protest, it’s been very good-humoured.
‘I’ve never been to a protest before and I just felt this was the time, I wanted to be one of the numbers.
‘I don’t agree with every issue people are here protesting about but we need to be heard on things like climate change and the greediness of the banks and supermarkets.
‘If there is any bad vibe it is because of the police. Whenever I hear someone say something like that I think they are talking rubbish but now I have experienced it myself.’
Flashpoint: Thousands of activists were penned in outside the Bank of England
Police clash with protesters outside the Bank of England