RTS in fluffy shock!
On Wednesday morning (April 19) the Met police held an impressively over-the-top press conference at Scotland Yard. Crime journalists and other selected hacks were invited - about 45 in all. They were greeted before going in by a few people from the RTS meetings and were handed press releases about the Guerrilla Gardening Action, PGA bulletins, stickers, fliers and a packet of organic seeds!
Once inside, journos were seen to be comparing seed packets before settling down to the show. They were given an interesting talk, accompanied by a very flashy slideshow, on the what was known about the whole weekend's events - and briefed on how the police were preparing for the activities. Some very interesting and a lot of highly amusing stuff was purveyed - some wildly untrue and other bits true. A cop commented that the May day email discussion list had degenerated into an internet chat where everybody was fighting with each other.
Though the police agreed that all agitprop about the GG action was "fluffy" they still seem to think that there may be a darker plot hidden away! A lot was also made of a policeman who had suffered spinal injuries after being hit on the head by a spade at June 18th - this of course was used to warn of the dangers of guerrilla gardening and gardening tools. The sun journalist thought that trowels were as dangerous as knives - how unsurprising that that would be a Sun hack.
On leaving over an hour later, many journalists chatted to the folk outside and seemed to be in general agreement that the police were going way over the top with their plans and trying just a little too hard to woo the press.
But as far as the City force goes, the brasses' jobs depend on a big show of brave bobbies battling balaclava'd beatniks on Mayday, don't they? Jeez, there must be a better way to pay the mortgage within capitalism...
Police on riot alert
Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 11:34 GMT 12:34
Officers will prepare for a repeat of violence Police in London are planning a major operation to deal with the possibility of rioting over the May Day weekend.
The move, which is expected to lead to a cancellation of leave for all uniformed officers, is aimed at tackling numerous organised and unofficial events taking place in the capital.
It follows concerns over growing protest against global capitalism which has resulted in violence and arrests around the world.
The scale of the operation, covering 28 April to 1 May, is likely to match policing levels in place during Millennium celebrations.
Other forces, including Nottingham and Manchester, will also be on standby for similar protests by anarchist and environmental groups.
The Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner Michael Todd said: "During the May Day bank holiday weekend there are a number of events planned throughout London.
"Some of these have been arranged in consultation with local police and these include sporting events, processions and marches.
"We also believe there will be a number of events linked to anti-capitalist protests, although the organisers have not made contact with police.
"The Metropolitan Police service has been working closely with colleagues from the City of London police and British Transport police to provide a co-ordinated response to the policing of the capital throughout the weekend.
"All of London's police services have been working together for some considerable time to plan and prepare for all of these events to ensure Londoners are able to go about their daily business with the minimum of disruption."
Rioting during a protest on 18 June last year brought chaos to the City of London, leading to 101 arrests.
Some 44 people were injured during the action and one officer suffered serious spinal injury after he was struck on the back with a spade.
And on 30 November a day of protest at Euston Station, to coincide with the disruption at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle, resulted in 34 arrests.
Police out in force for big May Day protest
Evening Standard 19 April 2000
Anarchists plotting May Day riots in London will face the capital's biggest policing operation to date, writes Lucy Lawrence. Thousands of officers will be on the streets for 1 May, more than for Millenium eve and for protests lasts June and November. Up to 10,000 demonstrators are expected to attend the protest in Parliament Square and around 500 anarchists are thought to be intent on violence. All police leave has been cancelled from 28 April to 1 May. The City force and the Met faced criticism after the riot last June in the Square Mile in which anarchists caused £2 million worth of damage. This time there will be four days of protest. The highest profile will be "guerilla gardening", with participants begin urged to bring forks and spades. It is thought the "gardeners" will move from Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square.
Resistance is fertile
The Times April 15 2000
Reclaim the Streets, the group which organised the City of London protest that ended in rioting last year, has turned to gardening for the next day of protests on May 1 under the banner "resistance is fertile". The group, which plans to rally in Parliament Square, wants its supporters to plant
flowers to transform "symbols of capitalism". Similar events have been held in New York.
Anti-capitalists to target London
Financial Times 20 April 2000
Financial institutions in London are being warned by police to assess their risk of attack by protesters over the weekend leading up to May 1 when up to 10,000 anti-capitalist demonstrators are expected to converge on the city.
One of the biggest police operations in London's history is planned for the four-day event. It is feared the protest could turn violent. Last June, a riot in London's financial district led to 101 arrests and caused millions of pounds of damage.
Banks, fund managers and companies linked to environmentally or politically sensitive corporate activities, such as oil drilling and animal testing, could be singled out by protesters opposed to "capitalism, exploitation and destruction of the planet".
Police are urging institutions not to rely on a single City of London-based operation in case activists bring business to a halt. It is feared that protesters might attempt to storm buildings or hack into computer systems.
Institutions headquartered in buildings with glass frontages have an increased vulnerability to attack, police warned.
The strength of the police's warnings and the intensity of their planning reflects fears that this year's demonstrations could be bigger than last June's and sensitivity about criticisms that they were under-prepared for last year's riot.
However, police admit they have little intelligence about the event or its organisers - who are believed to be a disparate group of environmentalists, anarchists and left-wingers - except that gleaned from web sites advertising four days of "mayhem and mass action".
A range of peaceful events, including cycle rides and an "anarchists' football tournament" are planned from the evening of Friday, April 28, building towards a mass demonstration on Monday, May 1, which is a public holiday in the UK.
Police expect the majority of campaigners to be peaceful but are concerned about a hard core of troublemakers intent on encouraging violence.
They are especially concerned about Guerrilla Gardening, an event planned by Reclaim The Streets, an environmental organisation. Participants are encouraged to bring seeds and gardening equipment to "cultivate" open spaces in the capital.
Police fear it could be a front for activists to bring forks, spades and
mattocks to use as weapons. This was dismissed by Angel, a Reclaim the Streets organiser.
The joint operation between the Metropolitan and City of London police forces will be similar in scale to the one employed on New Year's Eve. Several thousand police officers will be on duty. All leave has been cancelled.
Police braced for violence at "hard core" protests
Guardian 19 April 2000
Fears that anti-capitalist rioters will disrupt May Day bank holiday in London Easter roads chaos forecast to start today Nick Hopkins, Crime correspondent Wednesday April 19 2000 The Guardian
Up to 500 "hard core" protesters are planning to disrupt the May Day bank holiday by rioting in London during a series of anti-capitalist demonstrations and marches, police sources revealed yesterday.
Three forces - the Metropolitan police, City police and British Transport police - have cancelled leave for uniformed officers because of the threat, which was identified after undercover work by Scotland Yard's special branch.
While thousands of officers will be available if trouble starts, the police fear high visibility policing on the streets could be seen as provocative.
The plan is to keep many officers in reserve and deploy them in rapid reaction units as and when violence flares.
Police "spotters" will mingle with the crowds and radio for back-up if there is a repeat of the mayhem which erupted during similar protests on June 18 and November 30 last year.
The Guardian has learned that the police increased the number of closed circuit television cameras in the City following those disturbances and there is now blanket coverage in vulnerable areas.
Millennium eve apart, sources said, the police operation to deal with the demonstrations was "the biggest in 30 years".
Police anxiety about the protests was heightened by recent riots in Washington and Seattle, and the breakdown in communication between senior police officers and some of the protest groups which are known to be involved in organising events.
There was a degree of cooperation between the police and a planning committee made up of members of Reclaim the Streets, the Socialist Workers party, and the Anarchists Federation, but the group disintegrated because of political in-fighting.
"We have tried to work with groups to organise the protests, but they will not cooperate with us," said one senior officer. "We haven't heard anything from them, but we will keep trying.
"Special branch has provided us with intelligence about some of the events that have been planned, and we have been monitoring internet traffic.
"Half the problem is, we just don't know which events will go ahead and which will fall by the wayside."
One of the biggest events is expected to be the Guerrilla Gardening Action demonstration on May 1 in Parliament Square.
It is being organised by several groups, including Reclaim the Streets, and protesters are being encouraged to bring gardening equipment to plant seeds.
Last year a police officer was seriously injured when he was hit from behind by a demonstrator wielding a spade.
The officer is still off work suffering from spinal injuries.
Earlier on May Day, the group Cyclists have a Right to Move will demonstrate at Hyde Park corner.
Both protests are considered high risk in terms of potential disruption.
Other events, including an anarchists' seven-a-side football tournament on April 29, will be monitored "with interest".
A police source added: "Ninety per cent of the people who will come to London will behave peacefully, but we believe a hard core of between 400 and 500 will come to the capital to cause mischief and have a punch-up."
The police arrested 101 people last June following violent anti-capitalist protests in the City. Another 120 rioters were identified, but not caught.