RTS home

November 30 press reports from London: the Telegraph

The Telegraph also led with a flaming big picture - but the story pointed out who was getting beaten by whom. The Telegraph is normally the least inaccurate paper when it comes to reporting RTS thingies, and the most sceptical about police claims. May have something to do with the number of police and army officers reading the paper, who know where such claims come from...

Get this: too: "The idea of low-key policing is foreign to Seattle city. By 7am squads of baton-wielding policemen, some carrying machineguns and CS gas..."

Wednesday 1 December 1999

Rioters attack police at Euston

RIOTERS set fire to an overturned police van and fought running battles with officers in central London last night during a protest against the World Trade Organisation.

In scenes similar to the anti-capitalism riot in the City in June, injured demonstrators were led from the scene with blood streaming from cuts as thick smoke filled the air. The violence coincided with similar demonstrations in Seattle where the World Trade Organisation talks are being held.

An estimated 1,000 people gathered outside Euston station at the start of the evening rush hour for what was initially a peaceful demonstration. The trouble flared after hundreds of campaigners surged towards a wall of waiting riot police. A firework was thrown, in what appeared to have been a pre-arranged signal for the attack to begin.

A police car was driven back as missiles rained on officers in riot gear. Many of the protesters - some wearing masks - were determined to bring chaos to those commuters remaining at the station. A group of about 100 attacked a parked British Transport Police van and succeeded in toppling it. The mob cheered as it burst into flames.

Police with batons and shields surged forward and encircled hundreds of protesters, herding them into the station courtyard where the ground was strewn with broken glass and beer cans.

Traffic on the busy Euston Road was brought to a standstill as the protesters hurled missiles at the officers and a large group staged a sit-down in the road. Dozens of police vans lined the area as snatch squads moved in to make arrests as violence flared again.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said a decision to close Euston Station had been taken "to protect the safety of the public". She said there were about 500 demonstrators inside at the time. The spokesman said: "Shortly before 7pm outside Euston Station police officers came under unprovoked attack from a violent group of approximately 100 demonstrators throwing missiles at them.

"Police officers wearing protective clothing and equipment were deployed to the scene. No officers were believed to have been injured. Protesters have attacked and set fire to a British Transport Police van. London Fire Brigade are at the scene and dealing with that.

"Euston Station is being closed now to protect the safety of the public. Five hundred protesters were at the scene. Only a minority are involved in violence. Nevertheless, we condemn the actions of the violent minority."

Early reports indicated that six protesters had minor injuries, and one police officer had dislocated a shoulder. A line of police officers took the names, addresses and photographs of those penned in by Euston station for further investigation.

A small number of protesters were determined to stay. Many sat down while hundreds of others waited patiently to be released. Glen Smyth, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, condemned the violence. He said: "I am horrified that the right to protest has been abused by people in this way.

"The treatment they are meting out to Metropolitan Police officers is nothing short of a disgrace. This is tantamount to eco-terrorism and those responsible should face the full weight of the law. If you want to change the world there are ways to do it and this is not the way. This is a disgrace."

Protesters believed to belong to the Reclaim the Streets campaign said that the violence erupted because the heavy police presence had stopped efforts at a peaceful demonstration. They admitted throwing missiles but claimed that they had acted "out of pure frustration".


Wednesday 1 December 1999

Protesters defy riot police to halt WTO

THE World Trade Organisation was forced to cancel the opening ceremony of its meeting in Seattle last night after protesters choked the city, preventing many delegates from leaving their hotels.

Thousands of "green" demonstrators and workers' rights marchers blocked the streets around the convention centre where WTO delegates from around the world were due to meet. Riot police fired rubber bullets and tear-gas in their efforts to move the protesters but many picked up the canisters and hurled them back at the police.

The idea of low-key policing is foreign to Seattle city. By 7am squads of baton-wielding policemen, some carrying machineguns and CS gas, were on the streets round the convention centre. Two hours later a cordon of environmental protesters with arms linked had surrounded the Sheraton Hotel where the ministers are staying to stop delegates, press and non-governmental organisations getting through.

A gathering of 5,000 "green" protesters massed on the waterfront at Victor Steinbrueck Park and began marching through the city. Led by Carl Pope of the Sierra Club they intended ultimately to merge with the official demonstration numbering tens of thousands mounted by the trades union group, the American Federation of Labour-Congress of Industrial Organisations.

Protesters carrying effigies of beef cattle skeletons and whales, many dressed in masks, chanted: "WTO has got to go." There were placards calling for "China out of Tibet", "Steel workers for labour protection" and "Vegans" from Philadelphia, Seattle and Oregon. Joe Haptas, carrying a vegan banner, explained that he was protesting against the WTO's frustration of rights for animals around the world.

Masked gangs of black-clad anarchists overturned street furniture and broke windows at multi-national companies such as Starbucks Coffee, Bank of America and Banana Republic. One woman, who would not give her name, said she was against corporate power that trampled the rights of the individual. Another protester, named Becky, from Colorado, said she was against the American proposal for a "free logging agreement" that would speed up the destruction of forests.

Announcing the cancellation of the opening ceremony, a WTO official said delegates would get on with the "real work". But this was difficult, with America and the European Union so opposed that other nations were called in to moderate. An attempt by America to railroad through a paper setting out the limited round it wants backfired when Third World nations denounced it as heavy-handed.

President Clinton's demand for an agreement on labour rights, which would outlaw child labour and impose a minimum wage on some of the poorest countries, was seen by developing countries as a naked attempt at protectionism. In an attempt to head off the Americans, and bring about a "comprehensive" round of talks including a wide range of issues including environmental protection, labour rights and investment, the EU began drawing up its own agenda for the week.

This included a position on labour standards that would not make developing countries subject to WTO trade sanctions if their goods were produced using child labour or on low pay. A source close to Stephen Byers, the Trade Secretary, said: "There was a view that we needed to take the initiative."

There is also dissatisfaction among ministers that the WTO has chosen to break up the talks into four ministerial working groups concentrated on difficult issues. One EU minister said: "They don't work. But they're useful for filling up the time of ministers." The view of the British and the EU trade commissioner, Pascal Lamy, is that the only way to break the deadlock in the limited time available this week is by brokered bilateral deals behind closed doors.

Normally the EU and America come together in international negotiations and pressure everyone else to accept their agenda but this time they are so far apart that the decisive mediation may come from other countries choosing between the EU and American positions.



These words are reproduced as fair dealing for the purpose of comment and criticism: send yours. Don't try to make money out of them.