The Met put on a display of force in Trafalgar Square yesterday (may 1st), severely wounding several unarmed demonstrators. We were dancing to a sound system set up at the corner of the Strand and Trafalgar Square when the police began announcing that everyone had to leave by 7:05pm. A group of demonstrators and a samba band attempted to move away up the Strand at approximately 6:45, but we were met by a line of police who tried to stop people leaving. A large number of people then attempted to run down Craven Street but were chased down and beaten with riot batons. The rest continued to try and move off up the Strand but police reinforcements began pushing the crowd back towards the Square. A young man was grabbed by anofficer an punched in the face. Another line of police were pushing more people away from the square and the two groups met at the corner of the Strand. We were held here by the police and more officers arrived to contain the crowd. Tis was at about ten to seven. Some people told the police that we had been told to leave by five past seven, not quarter to, and they were told "You should have left earlier then.". Several people were savagely beaten, including women. An old Sikh man disappeared under a solid mass of police, who kicked him and laid into him with truncheons. Several people attempted to aid him and they too were assaulted by the cops. A man who asked to be allowed to leave was called a "black cunt" by a policeman. I managed to escape the growing police cordon and got away up the Strand. Dozens of police vans were disgorging armoured riot police, who moved into position to protect corporate buildings. Police with attack dogs were closing off the side streets. Over a hundred officers clad in black riot gear and helmets ran towards the crowd. The crowd was then contained within a ring of these armoured thugs, and a line of "normal" police armed with truncheons was formed about 100 yards further up the Strand to prevent bystanders from approaching the crowd. I repeatedly requested information from various police officers and was told either "No comment", "I don't know" or "Fuck off". Several people who got too close to the line of police were violently thrown away. Allthe while, more vans were arriving and riot squads were running towards Trafalgar Square. I walked around to Northumberland Avenue where over a hundred police vans were parked. I was prevented from entering the Square from the end of Northumberland Avenue by an armoured policeman who yelled "You've had your final warning now FUCK OFF!" before hitting me with his Plexiglass sheild. I eventually got back to the Strand where things were pretty much as they had been when I left. The crowd was invisible behind the ring of black uniformed riot cops and most of them had fallen silent. I asked an officer what the point of this huge display of force was and he said "Maybe you'll think twice before you demonstrate against the Government again" before shoving me away. Is this democracy? After several hours of police coming and going, and a crowd of interested onlookers asking questions, reports filtered through of people being released. I met up with my friends who had been trapped in the circle of armoured police who told me that several people had been beaten up and then arrested, and also that everyone had been photographed and their name and address taken as they were released from Trafalgar Square.
All in all a successful day for brutality and repression and another starck reminder that freedom in this country only extends to those who don't ask questions or stand up for their beliefs.