G20 mayhem

IssueMay 2009
News by David Polden

Several demonstrations were organised to protest at the present state of the world on 1 April, on the eve of the “G20” world leaders’ summit in Docklands, East London.

In the G20 Meltdown event, demonstrators arrived in front of the Bank of England at about noon, coming in four marches from four directions, each led by one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Red Horse against War, Green Horse against Climate Chaos, Silver Horse against Financial Crimes and Black Horse against Land Enclosures (marking the 360th anniversary of the Diggers movement).

As soon as the fourth horse (ironically the Black Horse against Land Enclosures) arrived, police rapidly formed cordons across the streets surrounding the plaza in front of the bank, creating a “kettle” that was partially breached at around 2.30pm, with perhaps 1,000 people escaping at this point.

Most people were not allowed out until after 8pm, however, and only after being photographed. It was in this area that passerby Ian Tomlinson was assaulted by the police and later died. Other events

Also on 1 April were a British Muslim Initiative, CND, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition 2,000-strong march from the US Embassy to Trafalgar Square (where there was a rally); a brief “alternative summit” outside the University of East London (which closed down its campus at the last moment rather than host the conference); a Campaign against Climate Change iceberg protest at the ExCeL conference centre (where G20 were meeting the next day); and a Climate Camp in Bishopsgate (see pp10-11).

Squats raided

The next day, the long-term squatted social centre Ramparts and the G20 convergence centre at Earl Street in the City were both raided in a coordinated operation involving considerable violence. (Ramparts remains open.)

The main demonstration of the day was a 1,000-strong memorial event in the City for Ian Tomlinson (then believed to be a demonstrator) which degenerated into bottle-throwing and police charges.