G-20 protests rock London financial district

Anti-G-20 protesters clashed with riot police in central London April 1, overwhelming police lines, invading and vandalizing the Bank of England and smashing windows at the Royal Bank of Scotland. A banker was burned in effigy, drawing cheers. More than 30 people were arrested after some 4,000 clogged London’s financial district for what was dubbed “Financial Fool’s Day.” The protests were called ahead of the Group of 20 summit set to open the city.

The protests in London’s financial district—known as “The City”—took place as Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Barack Obama held a news conference at Britain’s Foreign Ministry elsewhere in the capital. Banners read “Resistance is Fertile,” “Make Love not Leverage,” “Eat the bankers,” and “0 percent interest in others.” Some bankers went to work in casual wear fearing they could be targeted. (AP, April 1)

Police say one man was found dead amid the protests. Officers said they moved the man behind a cordon as protesters hurled bottles at them, and attempted to resuscitate the man before he was taken away by ambulance. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. Authorities did not give a possible cause of death. (AlJazeera, April 2)

See our last posts on the UK and the econocataclysm. See also our coverage of last year’s G-8 protests.

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  1. G20 leaders pledge “green recovery”
    A contradiction in terms? From Environment News Service, April 2:

    LONDON – World leaders of the G20 industrialized and emerging economies today agreed to build “an inclusive, green, and sustainable recovery” to help the world through the current financial crisis and to restore credit, growth and jobs.

    At the close of their summit meeting in London, the 20 leaders committed to make available a $1.1 trillion program of support in addition to their national economic stimulus packages.

    The leaders agreed to repair the financial system to restore lending; strengthen financial regulation to rebuild trust; fund and reform our international financial institutions to overcome this crisis and prevent future ones; and promote global trade and investment and reject protectionism to underpin prosperity.

    In their communique, the leaders said, “We agreed to make the best possible use of investment funded by fiscal stimulus programmes towards the goal of building a resilient, sustainable, and green recovery.”

    “We will make the transition towards clean, innovative, resource efficient, low carbon technologies and infrastructure. We encourage the MDBs [multilateral development banks] to contribute fully to the achievement of this objective,” the leaders agreed, adding, “We will identify and work together on further measures to build sustainable economies.”

    In addition, the G20 leaders stated, “We reaffirm our commitment to address the threat of irreversible climate change, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, and to reach agreement at the UN Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.”

  2. London: autopsy contradicts police account
    From the New York Times, April 18:

    LONDON — The newspaper vendor who died after being struck by a police officer during the Group of 20 summit meeting earlier this month was killed by abdominal bleeding and not by a heart attack, according to an independent autopsy whose conclusions were released Friday.

    This flatly contradicts earlier assertions by the police, who maintained that the newspaper vendor, Ian Tomlinson, died of a heart attack. It also opens the door for possible manslaughter charges against the officer who attacked Mr. Tomlinson, pushing him and striking him from behind with a baton, shortly before he collapsed.

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the incident, said that because of the new autopsy, the officer in question had been “interviewed under caution for the offense of manslaughter.” That means that the officer, whose name has not been released, has been formally interrogated but not charged with a crime.

    Meanwhile, videos have been released showing police brutalizing protesters during the G20. The Metropolitan Police Authority is investigating the incidents. (London Times, April 19)