G20 LIVE: Protests hit the capital
A total of 86 people were arrested yesterday after a day of occasionally violent protests in London. Review the day as it happened here.
Follow progress throughout the day on politics.co.uk as the capital is hit by several simultaneous protests.
The main protest took place at the Bank of England, where the afternoon was dominated by low-level scuffles between demonstrators and police officers. Follow events there – and see video footage from the ground – here.
The Climate Camp in Bishopsgate quickly calmed down after an initial burst of unrest. A carnival atmosphere is reported from this event. Follow developments there here.
They may have arrived a day early, but demonstrators outside the Excel Centre in London called on G20 leaders to focus on the environment. Listen to our interview with protestors here.
Finally we had the Stop the War march from Grosvenor Square to Trafalgar Square, which took place peacefully this afternoon. Pictures and updates are available here.
G20 LIVE: Updates below.
Thursday 08:040 – Video footage from Wednesday’s protest:
23:30 – The Met said a total of 63 people had been arrested by 21:15. Among them were 11 for possession of police uniform, one for arson on the RBS building and ten for wilful obstruction.
20:55 Protestors outside the Bank of England have started to be let out of the police cordon one by one, our correspondent says. But tensions are are still flaring up and some protestors have been charging the police lines in frustration. Even when they are let out protestors must give their name and address to police officers before being let go, including members of the media who have been penned in with the protestors.
19:40 – Climate protestor claims the mood at the Climate Camp in Bishopsgate is de-escalating thanks to a “samba band and music” with riot police looking disappointed that they will not rise to their provocation.
19:23 – In the last half hour demonstrators penned in around the Bank of England charged the police, but apparently to no avail. From the perimeter, there’s a lot of smoke, the smell of which is pervasive. Police say the demonstrators are setting things on fire. Current police estimates say the protestors will be penned in there for some hours yet. One riot policeman has told our correspondent they would be allowed out once they stopped throwing things at the police, although protestors would of course counter that they will stop throwing things if the police let them out. There’s very few people around the perimeter now – most demonstrators having given up and gone home. The majority of people out here are journalists hoping to find a way in to the action. There are occasional cheers and shouts from the crowd trapped inside.
19:00 – The Metropolitan police have just held a press briefing confirming there were between 4,000 and 5,000 protestors at the City at the peak of the demonstration. In total 5,000 officers were deployed across London, Commander Simon O’Brien said, admitting the police were “no way confident that this is in any way over”. The Met claims at times through the day “juvenile and puerile behaviour escalated into quite provocative behaviour”.
Three plate glass windows were confirmed to have been broken at RBS, with protestors entering into the building and attempting to steal things. Only two have been arrested so far after this incident. Cmdr O’Brien said officers would wait until a later time before deciding to “knock on their doors and say hello”.
On the ground, our correspondent near the Bank of England writes: “Police have formed a sterile zone around the first line of riot police. So there is a small group of demonstrators trapped around the Bank of England. Then 100m away there is a second line of officers blocking off all entrances to the square. There really is no way in or out, regardless of media accreditation.”
Bjorn Twachtmann, 30, web developer
18:00 – Another update from Scotland Yard. There have been 24 arrests so far today.
- 1 x possession of class A drug
- 11 x possession of police uniform
- 1 x in connection with threatening behaviour
- 3 x violent disorder
- 1 x obstruction of highway
- 2 x breach of the peace
- 2 x section 5 Public Order Act
- 1 x criminal damage
- 2 x aggravated burglary on RBS building
At least one demonstrator in the City has said he has been struck on the head with a police baton. At least it’s relaxed in Bishopsgate. “There is a really relaxed atmosphere; people coming and going as they like,” our correspondent said. “People are on top of bus stops and up lampposts. There are banners and slogan-spattered tents everywhere.”
17:00 – A turn for the worse on Queen Victoria street, where police have started pushing protestors away from HSBC. There are people covered in blood and the police are being quite aggressive, according to our correspondent. He said: “The police are dressed in black and are very imposing.” At the Climate Camp things remain rather domestic: our correspondent’s reports are filled of kitchens serving cake and tea rather than confrontation.
16:30 – Police have blocked off all minor roads leading off Bishopsgate, meaning protestors at the Climate Camp are only able to leave or enter at the top and bottom of the main street. Near Bank, the anthropology expert from the University Of London suspended last week for allegedly inciting criminal action against bankers is getting euphoric.
“We’ve won the revolution,” he told our correspondent. “If nobody believes in the government it doesn’t exist.”
16:00 – Bottles have been thrown near the Bank of England. It is now unclear whether the police will be able to maintain the line they have established there. But overall their strategy appears to be partially successful – demonstrators are being divided into smaller groups. At the Climate Camp things are much more calm. “We want to make sure people realise we’re here for something serious, not a party,” a girl with a microphone says. Trafalgar Square is now filling up with the Stop the War demonstrators, who have arrived on their march from Grosvenor Square.
15:30 – An uneasy truce has developed at the Climate Camp protest. That’s according to two legal observers, who told our correspondent on the ground they fear this will be broken later when the City begins clearing itself of office workers.
The crowds have been shouting “shame on you” at HSBC workers popping their heads out of windows in the City. Meanwhile a standoff is continuing around Queen Victoria Street.
15:00 – The situation remains unstable at the Bank of England. On the corner of Queen Victoria Street and Queen Street riot police have started pushing people around following the start of an unexpected march. They succeeded in pushing two separate groups apart, however. Our correspondent says: “It’s all gone a little bit crazy.”
It’s relatively quiet around the ExCel centre, the venue for tomorrow’s G20 summit. Things are due to kick off later but we spoke to some of the protestors getting there early:
Nick Haines, 22-year-old student
14:30 – The last half-hour has seen the police line completely break down at the Bank. Different protests join together, but the police attempt to regain control by pushing the demonstrators back. “A man just got punched in the face by a police officer as protestors continue to try and break the line,” our correspondent reports.
“On the corner of Queen Victoria Street and Queen Street riot police started pushing people around.
“An impromptu march started and the police panicked and started pushing the protestors back and managed to separate two groups of demonstrators.
“There are hundreds of officers in one big block.”
14:00 – Riot police arrive at the Bank of England. Their blue helmets and truncheons pose something of a threat. In response an anarchist wearing a black balaclava and a black hooded top shimmies up a column and erects a number of banners. “Edgy and nervous security guards look on, not sure what he’s going to do next,” our correspondent says. Elsewhere, the Stop the War march sets off from outside the American embassy in Grosvenor Square.
13:30 – Increasing violence at the Bank in the last half-hour. A female was punched in the face and a police officer set upon. The situation calmed down, however – dialogue is the order of the day, for now.
The Climate Camp quickly overtakes it as the main trouble spot. Protestors break out from the main tented area and clash with police. A series of fights break out. “One man was taken away, vomiting,” our correspondent says.
13:00 – Members of the Camp for Climate Action set up their own protest in Bishopsgate. Tents of all shapes and sizes are pitched, with a strong party atmosphere. A samba band leads the musical accompaniment. Only a column of police passing by break the relaxed mood.
It’s changing at the Bank of England, however, as our correspondent reports a sense of “growing irritation”. This is partly because we are “completely blocked off. stopped from getting in and getting out.” Some are beginning to say they are not being allowed their right to peaceful protest.
12:30 – Police form a border around the edge of the Bank of England protest as the situation remains essentially peaceful. But the lack of friendliness to the financiers of the City remains. “Whenever businessmen or bankers look down from their windows they are greeted with cries of “jump”, our correspondent reports. Russell Brand is spotted among the protestors:
12:00 – The demonstration is joined by the Black Bloc, a group of hardcore protestors. Bankers don’t exactly help the situation by waving banknotes from their wallets at the protestors. But they haven’t gone completely mad – they’re doing so from their office windows.
Among the crowd outside the Bank are communists, anarchists, ordinary members and elderly people. “We’re not all anti-capitalists or anarchists,” Andy, a former IT worker, said. “We’re just over 50, out of work and living on our savings. And I can’t get a job for love or money.”
11:30 – Crowd in the City heads off towards the Bank of England. Our correspondent initially tells us there is a “party atmosphere” with a “minimal police presence”, but this soon changes as the first scuffles break out. At least 1,500 people gather.