Peace protestors breach parliament as 'democracy village' hits back

Peace protesters unfurl their banner on top of parliament today
Peace protesters unfurl their banner on top of parliament today

By Ian Dunt

Activists camped out in Parliament Square have responded to legal actions against them by scaling parliament and hanging an anti-war banner.

The modest banner reads: "We respect the soldiers, we do not support the war."

Yesterday Brian Haw and Barbara Tucker, two long-time protestors outside parliament, were arrested after police arrived with sniffer dogs to check their tents before the Queen's arrival for the state opening of parliament.

Mr Haw was arrested on suspicion of obstructing police while Ms Tucker was arrested under section five of the Public Order Act.

Meanwhile, London mayor Boris Johnson said he would be applying to the high court to remove the demonstrators. Their numbers have swelled in recent weeks as democracy activists, troops back from Afghanistan, socialists and anarchists moved in.

"They can remove us," one activist told this morning.

"We will come back, and that's it really.

"Obviously I've got compassion for the GLA [Greater London Authority] and the job that they do and what they feel they need to do. It's a side issue."

Asked about today's action, the activist, who gave her name as Lou, said: "We're taking a non-violent direct action to hang this banner from the houses of parliament.

"We're staying at the democracy village in order to campaign to get the troops back from Afghanistan because the overwhelming majority of the British public - 72% in fact - would like the troops home.

"It's a war without an enemy, it's a pre-emptive war, it's an illegal war."

The green is owned by the GLA. Previous attempts to remove activists using anti-terror legislation has proved unsuccessful, but the authority is expected to now use by laws to remove demonstrators.

Yesterday, Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti attacked the arrests which took place before the Queen's Speech.

"We are very sad to see that on a day that is supposed to celebrate British democracy, peaceful dissent is also shut down," she said.

"The new coalition government has promised to restore the right to non-violent protest. Attempts to clear Parliament Square are not the most promising."


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