Bring the war home
38 arrested at Parliament protest
By Martina Smit
(PICTURE CAPTION: Scuffles broke out every time the protestors tried to break through the police line. (Picture: Martina Smit))
POLICE have arrested 38 people during a protest outside Parliament today.
The demonstrators planned to stop politicians from entering the Palace of Westminster. But only about 50 people, mostly teenagers, turned out for the event dubbed State of Emergency - Sack the Parliament.
About 300 police outnumbered the protesters by at least six-to-one. Earlier, officers linked arms in a massive circle in the middle of Parliament Square to stop the protesters from getting close to the gates of Westminster.
Scuffles broke out every time officers entered the circle to arrest a protestor.
"You never know who they are going to take next, once they are on the other side of the police line you don't know what happens to them," one protester told Local London. "Welcome to Parliament Square. Welcome to democracy."
A 20-year-old wheelchair-bound French woman, who identified herself only as D, helped to shield another protester from being arrested. "Cops don't charge people in wheelchairs, I hope," she said.
Of the 38 arrests, most were for breaching a ban on protests within one mile of Parliament Square. One person is being held on suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon, and another for possesing an illegal substance, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.
A photographer was taken to hospital by ambulance with ashtma after being pushed to the ground by a policeman. At least one protester claimed he was hit in the face.
Anarchists - some dressed like punks, others with their faces hidden behind scarves and hoodies - waved placards saying "No state. No war. No leader and no hierarchy," and "Tony Blair, war criminal."
Every so often they chanted: "This is not democracy, this is hypocrisy".
An unnamed protester said: "The police make it all worth it. If it was just the demonstrators here you would not notice the difference between them and the tourists."
(PICTURE CAPTION: A photographer was taken to hospital by ambulance after he was pushed to the ground by a policeman. (Picture: Martina Smit))
Another, who called himself Hassan Equality, said: "I don't mind if I get arrested, because there are people that are dying (at war)."
Up to 800 officers were on stand-by to stamp out any trouble.
Commander Bob Broadhurst said those planning the demonstration had been asked to be cooperative, but police were never contacted.
He said that without permission for the protest, they were breaking the law.
"The Met will always facilitate lawful protest, and in fact has a long history of doing so," Commander Broadhurst said.
"What we will not tolerate is people breaking the law, attempting to disrupt Parliament and disrupting the normal life of central London.
Police photographers gathered evidence at the event, filming the protestors.
A website promoting the campaign said: "Despite repeated mass protests parliament has ignored those it is supposed to represent and consistently sided with continuing wars and further authoritarian legislation.
"We have only one option left: Sack Parliament."
But amidst all the action, one man spent the entire afternoon juggling three balls. "I am not quite sure what all this is about," he said.