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200 arrested as hardcore anarchists fight police long into night in Battle of Trafalgar Square after 500,000 march against the cut


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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...cuts-protest-200-arrested-500k-march-cut.html

* Extremists hijack anti-government cuts demonstration

* 84 people injured - and at least 31 police officers hurt on day of violence

* Ritz hotel attacked with paint and smokebombs and 1,000 occupy Fortnum & Mason

* Protesters surge along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street forcing shops to close

* Lightbulbs filled with ammonia hurled at police officers

* Labour leader Ed Miliband defends speech to marchers

Over 200 people were arrested as extremists brought violent chaos to central London yesterday after hijacking the much-heralded trade union protest against public spending cuts.

A massive clear-up operation was underway today after trouble continued to flare late into the night as hundreds of people clashed with officers in Trafalgar Square.

Police confirmed 201 people were in custody and there had been 84 reported injuries during the protests. At least 31 police were hurt with 11 of them requiring hospital treatment.

The suspects are being held in 21 police stations across London. The Metropolitan Police are now reviewing evidence collected from CCTV cameras and officers.

Between 200 and 300 people were still in Trafalgar Square late into the night, with some throwing missiles and attempting to damage the Olympic clock within the square.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said officers had 'come under sustained attack' as they tried to deal with the disorder and attempted criminal damage, with officers using 'containment' tactics in a bid to manage those congregating. The area was eventually cleared by around 2.45am.

'A large number from the crowd are throwing missiles and have attempted to damage the Olympic clock within the square,' he said.

'Officers have come under sustained attack as they deal with the disorder and attempted criminal damage.'

All of the injuries were described as 'relatively minor'.

Although much of the debris left by yesterday's carnage had been removed today, Trafalgar Square was still showing signs of what had gone on.
The words 'fightback' and 'Tory scum' were scrawled on one of the four bronze lions, while red paint remained on part of the 2012 Olympics countdown clock.

A placard demanding 'hands off Libya' was placed high on the statue of King Charles I.

John Williamson, 60, a tourist from Whitehaven, Cumbria, said: 'I think it's embarrassing for the country. There's so many tourists here. What are they going to think?'

Splinter groups broke off from the main body of more than 250,000 demonstrators marching from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park to launch an assault on the capital’s main shopping district.

Some were hellbent on storming – or destroying – any London landmarks synonymous with luxury or money. Others targeted companies associated with tax avoidance.

Hundreds laid siege to The Ritz hotel, attacking it with paint and smokebombs. A Porsche showroom was also smashed up and upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason was occupied by about 1,000 activists.
On the streets outside, anarchists battled police. Some officers in Oxford Street were attacked with lightbulbs filled with ammonia, a sinister new weapon that can be assembled by following simple instructions on the internet. Other officers were hit with paint and flying bottles.

Scotland Yard commander Bob Broadhurst said of the rioters: ‘I wouldn’t call them protesters. They are engaging in criminal activities for their own ends. We’ll never have enough officers to protect every building in Central London.’

Several splinter groups brought chaos and violence to what was the largest public protest since the 2003 anti-Iraq war rally.

In stark contrast, the daytime demonstration was hailed a 'fantastic success' by trade unions as people from across the UK marched through central London.

Organisers estimated between 400,000 and 500,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters, council and NHS workers, other public sector employees, students, pensioners and campaign groups converged on the capital.

Union officials and Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the 'brutal' cuts in jobs and services.

But during the good-natured protest hundreds of activists not connected with the union rally clashed with police in the West End.

Officers were attacked as they tried to stop demonstrators smashing their way into banks and shops.

The protesters surged along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street, chanting 'welfare not warfare' as they blocked traffic and forced shops to close.

Paint, fireworks and flares were thrown at buildings, while the outnumbered police were attacked with large pieces of wood.

Branches of HSBC, RBS, Santander and Topshop were among those to have their windows smashed.

The police often had to step aside as the activists continued their destruction late into the evening.

Campaign group UK Uncut claimed around 200 of its supporters forced themselves into luxury store Fortnum and Mason - known as the Queen's grocer.

A spokesman for the demonstrators said the target was chosen because 'they dodge tens of millions in tax'.

Commander Broadhurst, who led the police operation, added that video evidence would be used in an attempt to make arrests in the coming days.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he 'bitterly regretted' the violence, adding that he hoped it would not detract from the massive anti-cuts protest.

'I don't think the activities of a few hundred people should take the focus away from the hundreds of thousands of people who have sent a powerful message to the Government today,' Mr Barber said.

'Ministers should now seriously reconsider their whole strategy after last night's demonstration. This has been Middle Britain speaking,' he added.

Mr Barber said unions would now step up pressure on the Government, especially MPs in their constituencies, and launch a series of protests next week in defence of the NHS.

SALMON SANDWICHES AMID THE RIOTING

Breaking past a small group of police, nearly 1,000 protesters charged into Fortnum & Mason, famed for its wicker picnic hampers and for delivering tea to the Queen.

After forcing themselves through the ground floor doors into the area selling luxury cheese and chocolate at around 4pm, the mob ran amok. Afternoon shoppers, among them dozens of Japanese and American tourists, fled up the stairs, followed by police officers who tried to stop the occupation from spreading.

Activists made speeches on the ornate spiral staircase and baskets full of £5 bags of Easter bunny chocolates were pushed over and spilled on to the floor.

Black-clad anarchists, wearing face masks to hide their identity, shouted abuse at customers and launched into tirades about class war. One threatened to attack a customer in a restaurant, outraged that they were carrying on eating salmon sandwiches.

A group of menacing extremists stood under the crystal chandeliers and hung posters from metal stair-rails. They threatened to smash display cases full of luxury goods if the police tried to drag them out.

Two others daubed anarchist symbols on the dark pink walls as smartly-dressed shop assistants tried to bring order by restacking upturned shelves. Some activists from the group called UK Uncut, which protests against tax avoidance, helped clean up the mess.

Police finally cleared the store of protesters just before 7pm.

Campaigners claimed they targeted the 300-year-old store because its owners are at the centre of a £40million tax avoidance row. Protesters also occupied Vodafone, Boots and BHS stores on Oxford Street for the same reason .

Sally Mason, one of the protesters who occupied the store, said: ‘Fortnum & Mason is a symbol of wealth and greed. It is where the Royal Family and the super-rich do their weekly shop and a picnic hamper costs £25,000.

‘This sits in stark contrast to everyone else who is struggling to make ends meet, fill in their tax returns and benefit forms and facing huge student debts, unemployment and the closure or dismantling of local services such as the NHS, libraries and leisure centres.’

Canadian businessman Garfield Weston bought Fortnum’s in the Fifties and the store is now run by his granddaughters, Jana Khayat and Kate Weston

Further along Piccadilly, extremists laid siege to The Ritz hotel. The building was pelted with paint, fireworks and smoke bombs.

Police forced back a hardcore of around 30 protesters, whose faces were covered by balaclavas and scarves, after several of the ground floor windows were smashed.

Unable to get inside, they instead daubed the words ‘fat cats’ on the walls and launched paint missiles through open windows on the first floor. Bins and a temporary traffic light were upturned on the street outside.

Around 50 people were evacuated to a function room at the back of the building. Windows of the restaurant’s Rivoli Bar were also pelted with paint while those of Ritz Fine Jewellery were smashed. The famous afternoon tea was cancelled, and walls of the building were daubed with anarchy symbols.

Neil Cox, a 30-year-old project manager from Redhill, Surrey, was staying in a room on the fourth floor overlooking Piccadilly, where the attack was launched.

He said: ‘I could feel the reverberation of missiles and paint hitting the building and other windows.’

The Ritz restaurant was reopened after an hour but only guests were allowed entrance to the building following the attack.

As a result people with restaurant reservations booked months ago were turned away.

Carla Sibley had travelled from Bournemouth to celebrate her 65th birthday with her three children, but was refused entry. She said: ‘We booked to have tea four months ago and it’s ruined.’

'SMASH THE BANKS' DAUBED ON WALLS

Around 300 extremists tried to storm a branch of HSBC in Cambridge Circus.

RITZ GUESTS EVACUATED AS WINDOWS SMASHED

They threw paint at police officers and smashed windows. Some of the group painted slogans such as ‘smash the banks’ and ‘thieves’ on the building before trying to get inside.

The building was quickly surrounded by riot police and it is thought that one protester was questioned inside.

A Piccadilly branch of Santander was also targeted by rioters who tried to break in. The bank’s glass front doors and windows were smashed and paint bombs were thrown at the building.

'PAY YOUR TAX PHILIP GREEN'

Owned by retail tycoon Sir Philip Green,Topshop was another main target.

For several hours shoppers were trapped inside the Oxford Street store as masked protesters pelted police who were defending it with rocks and paint bombs. Elsewhere along the shopping street, black-clad activists smashed windows and left officers ducking for cover and spattered in paint.

Topshop customers – mainly teenage girls – were still going in and out of the front door seconds before the missiles started flying. Many of them were trapped inside as chaos erupted outside.

The protesters chanted, ‘Pay your tax Philip Green’.

The tycoon has saved an estimated £285million in tax by paying a £1.2billion bonus to his Monaco-based wife, Tina.

I’m proud to stand with you, Miliband tells cuts rally... and then it turns violent

More than 250,000 people marched on the capital to object to the Government’s programme to tackle the deficit. Anarchists later broke away, bringing chaos to the city and targeting buildings such as The Ritz and Fortnum & Mason.

Mr Miliband – heckled by some protesters when he said that ‘some cuts’ were needed – was quick to say that he condemned ‘any action that was taken other than peaceful action’.

But he rejected claims by the Conservatives that he should have stayed away from the rally, which was also attended by Shadow Ministers Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and Harriet Harman.

‘Our struggle is to fight to preserve, protect and defend the best of the services we cherish because they represent the best of the country we love,’ said Mr Miliband.

‘David Cameron, you wanted to create the Big Society – this is the Big Society. The Big Society is united against what your Government is doing to our country.

‘We stand today not as the minority, but as the voice of the mainstream majority in this country.’

Treasury Minister Justine Greening said later the rally would not change the Government’s course.

She added: ‘We are making sure that we are doing everything we can to protect frontline public services.

‘But there is no doubt that we do have to get on with tackling the financial problems we have been handed by the Labour Party. We are going to stick to the course that we have set.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...cuts-protest-200-arrested-500k-march-cut.html
 
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