Media Whore | 30.04.2003 16:39
Europe on guard for May 1 protests
Wednesday, April 30, 2003 Posted: 1605 GMT (12:05 AM
BERLIN, Germany -- Security was being stepped up in major European capitals as tens of thousands of peace and labor activists prepared to take to the streets Thursday for May Day protests.
Large demonstrations are expected May 1 in the major European capitals -- Berlin, Paris, London, Rome, Athens and Madrid -- with protests against the U.S.-led war against Iraq being added to traditional trade union demands for workers' rights.
In Athens there are to be antiwar protests outside the U.S. Embassy, while Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar's support for the war in Iraq is expected to draw large numbers to marches in Madrid.
Spain's two main trade unions are to march to the banner: "For peace, for work. No to war." A joint statement says their May 1 demonstrations will be "another rejection of those who are proud of having conducted an unjust and illegitimate war."
In a similar move, several political parties -- led by the Communists -- are marching in Moscow in favor of "freedom against the war and against exploitation by big business and the powers of control, particularly in Russia and the United States."
In Berlin, 7,500 police backed by water cannons were to be drafted into the Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg districts which in the past have seen street rioting.
One potential flash point is a march by members of the far right which could bring clashes with left wing counter-demonstrators.
What began as marches to mark the achievements and strength of trades unions have increasingly been used by the far left as an opportunity to spark pitched street battles.
Berlin has suffered more than most with criminal damage, looting and cars set ablaze. On Wednesday night, shop windows were being boarded up and vehicles moved to safer parts of the city.
In London, police said that after a spate of anti-war protests -- including one in which a million people walked the streets of the capital -- they expected the numbers to be down for this year's May Day marches.
But they were leaving little to chance with previous May Days in London bringing chaotic violence, riots and mass arrests with offices and businesses attacked.
In the worst riots in 2000, masked demonstrators ransacked a McDonald's restaurant and trashed other buildings.
On Thursday, oil and arms companies -- firms with connections to Iraq and government buildings are all being targeted by protesters -- with the event going under the banner "Mayday 2003 Weapons of Mass Construction -- Our Day."
Up to 60 firms are on an Internet so-called "Hit List" for protesters, according to one report quoted by the UK's Press Association.
The London Mayday Collective is also organizing a demonstration at the offices of United States arms firm Lockheed Martin and then at the headquarters of oil giant Shell.
About 4,000 police will be on duty and Scotland Yard has canceled all leave for May 1.
In Paris, 35 years after the student-led revolt of May 1968, aside from the May Day rallies, trade unions are planning three days of protest and strikes to halt what they say is a smash-and-grab raid on state pensions, civil servant jobs and other pillars of the public sector.
"It begins with marches and lilies of the valley," the weekly Journal du Dimanche said of the flowers sported by the left on the May 1 rallies that have kicked off past protests. "After that, it's anyone's guess," it said.
In the Czech capital Prague, protests have been organized by antiwar, anti-capitalist, anti-EU and pro-EU groups.
Though in Warsaw, Poland, the main left-wing trades union OPZZ is boycotting the demonstrations for the first time since the collapse of communism in protest against rising unemployment and the cost-of-living.
May Day originated as "workers' day" in Europe -- similar to Labor day in the U.S. and Canada, held on the first Monday in September -- when in 1889 the International Socialist Congress designated May 1 as a day in support of workers.
In some countries, May Day subsequently came to be marked by parades and ceremonies noting the contributions of labor unions.
After World War II, in the Soviet Union and the Soviet-bloc countries of eastern Europe, May Day parades became important political and military observances -- notably the annual Soviet parade of troops, tanks and missiles in Red Square, Moscow.
After the fall of Communism these shows of military strength became less important.
May Day protests confusion
Wednesday April 30, 2003
Confusion yesterday surrounded plans for the first demonstrations since the end of the Iraq war, with neither the police nor demonstrators having a clue how big or how militant this year's May Day protests will be.
The police were playing safe, cancelling leave for 3,000 officers and warning businesses to board up windows and expect trouble tomorrow.
But although anti-capitalist and anarchist websites are exhorting people to demonstrate in large numbers on international workers' day, there is little coordination of protests and few signs that "autonomous" groups intend to wreak havoc in the City or the West End of London.
Apart from the annual TUC march, which is expected to attract 3,000 people to a rally in Trafalgar Square, the majority of demonstrations are expected to be small.
Some activists invited police to tell them where the action would be. "They must have better intelligence than us," said one. "Some people will always be up for a scuffle, but we don't expect anything on the scale of 1999 or 2000."
However, some protests during the Iraq war suggested militancy is rising and groups had put aside traditional differences to work together. This year students and schoolchildren are expected to join the protests.
Protesters have this year called for "pre-emptive strikes" against war makers. A map of 50 suggested targets, including multinationals, arms dealers, oil firms and government departments, is being prepared, but yesterday people were still being invited to send a stamped addressed envelope for it.
Business braced for Mayday attacks
The Cenotaph and other danger points are being protected
Security has been stepped up by the big businesses being targeted by May Day demonstrators.
While some companies are planning to carry on as usual, others have told staff to stay away for fear of being attacked.
All have been working closely with the police to prepare for the demonstration.
Defence companies such as Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems are among about 70 business and government targets listed on a website set up by organisers of the anti-capitalist march on Thursday 1 May.
We're very much hoping it will be business as usual
Bianca Ruakere, Shell
In past years marches have become violent with the more extreme demonstrators smashing windows and forcing their way into buildings.
This time the organisers have decided to concentrate their efforts on companies in the defence industry and the oil business.
Extra security measures
Offices of the US aircraft and weapons group Lockheed Martin have been chosen as the starting point for the demonstration even though its work in the UK is in systems integration projects rather than defence.
We have increased our existing operation to approximately 4,000 officers
Andy Trotter, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner
The company has told its staff to work from home rather than run the gauntlet of demonstrators.
It is one of a number of tenants in its central London building and the landlord has made security arrangements.
The oil giant Shell has been chosen as the end point for the march.
Shell spokeswoman Bianca Ruakere said the company had reviewed its security but would not give any details of extra measures.
"We're very much hoping it will be business as usual, we're not planning to close down," she told BBC News Online.
Lockheed Martin, Shell and all the other companies being targeted along the route, have been advised by the Metropolitan Police.
The businesses thought to be most at risk have been briefed at New Scotland Yard and have been visited by officers.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter said the Met was prepared to deal with any eventuality.
"Key to keeping London running smoothly will be our mobile teams of officers who can respond to incidents and spontaneous demonstrations.
"We have increased our existing operation to approximately 4,000 officers to help us keep London and Londoners safe and disruption to a minimum."
MAY DAY PROTESTS 2003
Preparing for May Day
Corporations fear targeting
The costs to business
Police presence beefed up
GUIDE TO THE DAY
Map of the key events (open window)
Protest groups profiled
Why I protest
One of the organisers explains why he will be on the streets.
The politics of anti-politics
LONDON SET FOR PROTESTS
Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets across the country for May Day demonstrations tomorrow - with London bracing itself for potentially violent protests.
A number of anti-capitalist, anti-war and anarchist groups are planning to demonstrate at events nationwide.
There are also concerns that the traditional international workers' day celebrated by trade unionists could be hijacked by groups intent on violence in London.
Previous May Days have seen violence, riots and mass arrests in central London with offices and businesses attacked.
In 2000 masked demonstrators ransacked a McDonald's restaurant and trashed other buildings in the City of London.
Tomorrow, oil and arms companies, firms with connections to Iraq and government buildings are all being targeted by protesters, with the event going under the banner "Mayday 2003 Weapons of Mass Construction - Our Day".
The London Mayday Collective is also organising a demonstration at the offices of United States arms firm Lockheed Martin and then at the headquarters of oil giant Shell.
The TUC is planning a traditional May Day march to Trafalgar Square for thousands of workers and trade unionists.
Stop the War has also been involved and thousands of first-time May Day protesters are expected to use the day to register their opposition to military action in Iraq.
The Metropolitan, City of London and British Transport police forces have spent months preparing everything from road closures to riot control, if necessary.
About 4,000 officers will be on duty and Scotland Yard has cancelled all leave on May 1.
30 April 2003
London braced for May Day protests
London is preparing itself for the now traditional May Day protests, with tens of thousands of anti-capitalism marchers expected to sweep into the capital's financial and commercial centres.
Over 50 sites have been targeted by protesters, beginning at 10.30am and finishing at around 10pm. One protest organiser, has billed the march as a "pre-emptive strike" against the "real weapons of mass destruction" – that is, oil companies, arms manufacturers, multinationals corporations and banks.
Police have advised people to expect disruption to transport, commerce and retail businesses and "potential disorder".
A Met spokesperson said: "We will have a policing operation in place with sufficient resources to be able to deal with whatever it occurs."
The Met have published an advice list on their website, http://www.met.police.uk/campaigns/mayday.htm , and asked employers to ensure that their staff are "informed not alarmed".
The police say keyholders should check that: fire exit doors remain closed and only opened in an emergency; alarm system is fully working; no rubbish be left outside premises, this can be used for missiles.
Protest groups have adopted somewhat revolutionary language to describe what is planned for tomorrow.
One wrote: “In order to create a future worth building we must, collectively, together, as one, destroy that which enslaves, suppresses and hinders us. Mayday is simply a glimpse of that possibility. Our energy is awe-inspiring, extraordinary, limitless. This is still our day.”
Police have developed a certain amount of expertise in dealing with anarchist/anti-globalisation marches, and more than 1,000 officers are expected to be on duty tomorrow.
London Police Boost May 1 Force by a Third on Company Hit List
By Angus Whitley
London, April 29 (Bloomberg) -- London police increased by a third its force to combat anti-capitalist demonstrations on May 1 as a protest group published addresses of 60 companies targeted ``for inspection.''
The city will mobilize 4,000 officers, said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Trotter, adding that companies can call a phone line for advice. The London Mayday collective, an anti-capitalist group, published the list called ``Sites for Inspection,'' naming oil company BP Plc and defense contractor Lockheed Martin Co.
The Metropolitan Police said last week it had already offered guidance to some businesses, encouraging them to tighten entrance security and close alternative routes into buildings. Two years ago, anti-capitalist protesters smashed windows of Tesco Plc supermarkets and McDonald's Corp. hamburger restaurants.
``There are some very simple steps that can be taken to protect your building, such as ensuring that everybody knows their responsibilities in the event of any action being taken in your vicinity,'' Trotter said.
Most of the May 1 events, including demonstrations against prison labor and student tuition fees, will be peaceful, Trotter said last week. Still, police are preparing to contain protesters by using riot gear such as batons and shields and mounted officers, as they did during the 2001 event.
Mayday's list of businesses also includes Kellogg Brown & Root, which last month won a contract to extinguish oil-well fires in Iraq. The company is a unit of Halliburton Co., formerly run by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
Rolls Royce Plc, the world's second-largest aircraft-engine maker, also features. Company spokesman Martin Brodie declined to comment on security arrangements.
Mayday, which helps organize the protests, also offers legal advice to anyone who may be arrested during the protests. It suggests the demonstrators wear padded clothing to protect themselves from the police.
``Mayday is a chance for us to connect our struggles with the struggles of others globally, a day when we can collectively voice our opposition to exploitation to create a new world, a world without capitalism,'' the Web site says.
Mark Brown, 39, who funds campaigns with his inheritance, and 25-year-old Alessio Lunghi, leader of anarchist group the Wombles, are helping plan the anti-capitalist protests, London's Evening Standard reported earlier. The newspaper published a photograph of Lunghi at a demonstration outside BP's annual meeting last week.
Last Updated: April 29, 2003 09:57 EDT
Thousands prepare for May Day demonstrations
Story filed: 14:13 Wednesday 30th April
Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets across the country for May Day demonstrations.
There are concerns that the traditional international workers' day celebrated by trade unionists could be hijacked by groups intent on violence in London.
A number of anti-capitalist, anti-war and anarchist groups are planning events nationwide, including demonstrations in Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leicester and Bradford.
Previous May Days have seen riots and mass arrests in central London with offices and businesses being attacked. In 2000, masked demonstrators ransacked a McDonald's and trashed other buildings in the City of London.
Tomorrow, oil and arms companies, firms with connections to Iraq and government buildings are all being targeted by protesters, with the event going under the banner "Mayday 2003 Weapons of Mass Construction - Our Day".
Up to 60 firms are on a so-called internet 'Hit List' for protesters, according to one report. The City of London and the centre of the capital are expected to be the main targets for attacks, as in previous years. Last year there were 54 arrests.
The Metropolitan, City of London and British Transport police forces have spent months preparing everything from road closures to riot control, if necessary. About 4,000 officers will be on duty and Scotland Yard has cancelled all leave on May 1.
Events planned include a Critical Mass cycle ride, meeting at Waterloo Bridge before heading for the Home Office buildings in Westminster. The London Mayday Collective is also organising a demonstration at the offices of US arms firm Lockheed Martin, and then at the headquarters of oil giant Shell.
Guy Taylor, from anti-capitalism campaign group Globalise Resistance, said: "There has been a hysteria, it is a media myth. I don't think there is anyone bent on trouble. There will only be trouble from people wearing blue uniforms."
The TUC is planning a traditional May Day march to Trafalgar Square. Stop the War has also been involved, and thousands of first-time May Day protesters are expected to use the day to register their opposition to military action in Iraq. Others, protesting against everything from the fur trade to student tuition fees, are expected to join the demonstrations.
London braced for May Day riots By Jimmy Burns, Social Affairs Correspondent
Published: April 28 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: April 28 2003 5:00
Defence, oil, banks and multinational retail companies are stepping up their security this week amid fears that Thursday's May Day protests could develop into violent "direct action" against them by hardcore demonstrators.
Following discreet briefings by police, numerous businesses linked to specific sectors have been advised to board up windows, restrict non-essential deliveries, and increase general vigilance by private security staff. Construction sites have also been told to take special precautions with any building material that could be used by rioters.
With all leave cancelled for 3,000 police drawn up on potential riot control duty, most businesses will attempt to remain open on Thursday, hoping that the extra security will deter any planned physical attacks.
Unlike many other European countries, May Day is not a holiday in the UK and both police and the business community have agreed to try to keep disruption to a minimum.
With the capital struggling with the impact of an extended economic downturn and the continuing uncertainties created by the war against Iraq and its aftermath, police chiefs and business leaders are publicly urging shoppers and tourists in the West End, as well as employees in the City of London, to go about their normal activities on Thursday.
The London Chamber of Commerce warned that May Day would have a negative impact on business even if it passed off peacefully because of the costs of extra security and the inevitable disruption to traffic in parts of central London.
"The small trader running a corner shop is going to be hurt proportionately just as hard as the multinationals. At a time when three-quarters of retailers in central London have seen their takings fall year-on-year, the last thing they need is to be squeezed yet again," said Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce.
Senior police chiefs expect protests by organisations ranging from animal rights and anti-globalisation activists to hard-left supporters and anarchists whose militancy was regenerated by opposition to the war in Iraq.
Over the last two years, a May Day of overwhelmingly peaceful action by thousands has ended in violent scuffles between fewer than 500 individuals and riot police.
One group of agitators has formed an action group called "Weapons of Mass Construction".
Their website proclaims: "With the war drums beating and the state imposing even harsher forms of internal control, Mayday 2003 will be our chance to seize the moment and fight back. Mayday is our weapon of mass construction: let's use it!"
From the news weeklies
Saturday April 26, 2003
The New Statesman (April 28) also moved away from the war, with a cover story about the anti-globilisation movement in anticipation of May Day anarchy. "For the British press, the first anarchist riot of spring is as sought after as the first swallow," wrote Paul Kingsnorth, "but beyond the radar screens of the media... something is massing... something that is beginning to look like a genuine, global revolution." Kingsnorth travelled through "epicentres of resistance across the world" and discovered the shared "rallying point for this new international gathering force of dissidents" was that freedom is not about the right to vote but is "about the right to decide your economic, as well as your political, destiny: and this is precisely what globalisation - in other words, the spread of neoliberal capitalism to all corners of the earth - is removing from people all over the world". He returned home believing the anti-globalisation movement "could turn out to be the biggest political movement of this century; possibly the biggest ever".
More police for May Day
By Emma Griffiths
BBC News Online, London
Policing last year's demonstration cost nearly £1.8m
Despite months of planning, police are still making last-minute changes to preparations for May Day.
The number of officers on duty this Thursday has been increased by a third, to 4,000, in the light of new information received by police chiefs.
An anarchists' website has published the names of 60 offices in central London which could be targeted on the day.
Although police stress that the majority of the thousands of protesters who head to central London are there for legitimate demonstrations - they have spent months preparing for the worst.
"It is difficult to plan because, if the people involved do not cooperate, then we don't have any estimates of numbers or locations, " said Deputy Assistant Commander Andy Trotter, who is in charge of the police operation this year.
"We have just upped our numbers to 4,000 because of concerns about the number of premises that might be targeted."
Our feeling is it will be the standard anti-capitalism protests and there will be an element about oil and armament production
Deputy Assistant Commander Andy Trotter
Ever since Winston Churchill's statute was defaced and a McDonalds branch vandalised during the chaotic protests of May Day 2000, the Met has been under pressure to prevent a repeat of the violence.
"I think people were shocked about the damage to national monuments and were surprised that 1 May, a day of workers' celebration across the world, was used to damage memorials and attack police officers," said Mr Trotter.
"As a result we had to increase the numbers of officers and change our tactics to deal with that."
By 2001 police were invoking special powers allowing riot officers to hem in thousands of protesters and aggrieved bystanders in Oxford Circus for eight hours.
Even last year's relatively peaceful May Day Monopoly demonstrations ended in a stand-off between activists and officers in Soho's Old Compton Street.
Troublemakers have been known to change their own tactics - last year they kept moving around the West End in small groups to prevent being hemmed in by riot police.
But although police say rioters are not great organisers, they are not taking any chances.
Some officers will be patrolling the streets while others watch for troublemakers from mobile CCTV vans and helicopters.
'Reserve' groups will also be on standby to respond to events as they occur.
Demonstrations are expected in the City, the West End, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly and Park Lane.
Police are currently expecting smaller 'desegregated' groups of protesters but say there is no definite theme.
"Our feeling is it will be the standard anti-capitalism protests and there will be an element about oil and armament production," said Mr Trotter.
May Day is not the Met's biggest challenge of the year.
Last year the price of policing the event (£1.8m) was dwarfed by the Notting Hill Carnival's £5.4m cost to the police purse.
The force says it deals with 3,500 public order events each year and is ready for whatever May Day has to offer.
But while it is gearing up for a "difficult and challenging day", Mr Trotter says they will be supporting the majority of demonstrators who come for a legitimate day of peaceful protest.
"Anyone who was here for the Stop the War march or the Countryside Alliance could see that hundreds of thousands of people could express their views with the full involvement of the police," he said.