Bri­tish protest turns vi­o­lent

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

BRI­TISH po­lice have clashed with bot­tle-throw­ing pro­test­ers at Lon­don’s Trafal­gar Square, over­shad­ow­ing a peace­ful march by more than 250,000 peo­ple against gov­ern­ment spend­ing cuts.

At least 214 peo­ple were ar­rested and 84 peo­ple were hurt when a small group of ‘ ‘ crim­i­nal’’ demon­stra­tors broke free from Satur­day’s main rally, the big­gest in the cap­i­tal since protests against the Iraq war in 2003.

A group of sev­eral hun­dred masked ri­ot­ers at­tacked the iconic Ritz Ho­tel, oc­cu­pied a lux­ury food store, smashed up shops and banks and started a bon­fire in his­toric Trafal­gar Square be­fore po­lice fi­nally con­tained them. The orig­i­nal march called by unions on Satur­day drew health work­ers, fire­fight­ers, teach­ers and their fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing chil­dren, to op­pose the Con­ser­va­tiveLib­eral Demo­crat coali­tion’s aus­ter­ity mea­sures.

‘‘ I think it’s a game of two halves. Two hun­dred and fifty thou­sand peo­ple came to cen­tral Lon­don and protested peace­fully,’’ said Com­man­der Bob Broad­hurst of Scot­land Yard, who led the po­lice op­er­a­tion.

‘‘ But what we have had un­for­tu­nately is a group of crim­i­nals, noth­ing to do with that march, have de­cided to - on their own steam - at­tack build­ings in cen­tral Lon­don and at­tack po­lice of­fi­cers,’’ he told Sky News.

Sev­eral hun­dred black-clad pro­test­ers cov­er­ing their faces with scarves hurled fire­works, petrol bombs and paint at po­lice, AFP re­porters saw.

Clothes store Top­shop and banks HSBC and Lloyds had t hei r win­dows s mashed, while some pro­test­ers hurled mis­siles at the five-star Ritz Ho­tel. A group of pro­test­ers oc­cu­pied lux­ury food store Fort­num and Ma­son and sprayed graf­fiti on the build­ing un­til po­lice sealed off the premises and ar­rested those com­ing out. Po­lice said of­fi­cers came un­der ‘‘ sus­tained at­tack’’ at Trafal­gar Square, site of the fa­mous Nel­son’s Col­umn and of four huge bronze lions. Ri­ot­ers there were still throw­ing bot­tles at po­lice into the early hours of Sun­day. Thirty-one po­lice of­fi­cers and 53 mem­bers of the pub­lic were in­jured in the vi­o­lence, po­lice said. Six­teen mem­bers of the pub­lic and 11 po­lice needed hos­pi­tal treat­ment. The 214 ar­rests were for pub­lic or­der of­fences, cri mi­nal dam­age, ag­gra­vated tres­pass and vi­o­lent dis­or­der, said po­lice.

About 4500 po­lice of­fi­cers were de­ployed for the protest af­ter sev­eral Bri­tish stu­dent ral­lies de­scended into chaos last year.

CHAOS: Riot po­lice in front of a burn­ing bar­ri­cade in Jermyn St dur­ing clashes with pro­test­ers that saw hun­dreds ar­rested

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