Trend spotter | 01.11.2002 20:01
Two independent sources have reported overhearing police officers saying "it's the two at the front we want" and "get the leaders" with respect to the large student contingent during the protest after the demonstration in parliament square had moved off along whitehall.
One eye witness report of an arrest just after 9pm outside the London School of Economics (where the student section of the protest march ended) seems to confirm this:
"At that time the protests were over, the last student demonstrators dispersing and the majority of the police getting back into their vans when a snatch squad rushed into a small crowd on the pavement and forcefully grabbed a student stop the war activist as he stood chatting to others. He was bundled into a police van. Understandably the remaining protestors were angry about this, but the situation was inflamed by the arrival of some very aggressive police. Soon and a young woman was arrested, dragged by her hair and carried by several officers and also thrown into a police van. The police were constantly pushing people and being abusive, they prevented people photographing or filming as much as possible then threatened and assaulted people with cameras."
Others reported many instances of the police concentrating on harrassing or trying to provoke other activists at what was a very peaceful protest indeed. Despite Trafalger Sq being a virtual building site complete with cobblestones and site equipment and despite several macdonalds being 'unguarded' nothing got trashed, no windows broken. A Rolls Royce corniche (sp? VERY expensive) soft top, even passed through the middle of the march without a single incident. The point was this was an anti-war event with marches and direct action but not something which warrented the levels of targeting seen on the streets.