London: 202 arrested, 38 injured after militant street protests against budget cuts

From Capitalist Media:

202 people have been arrested and 35 people have been injured including five police officers have been injured as thousands protest in central London over spending cuts by the British government.

The protests were largely peaceful but a breakaway group became involved in scuffles with the police.

Around 4,500 police were deployed onto the streets of the city for what had been the biggest demonstration in years with union sources saying that up to 500,000 people had taken to the streets.

Public sector workers, students and pensioners are among those taking part.

British government ministers say the reductions are necessary to fix the public finances and have urged their critics to come up with an alternative.

The main group of the marchers demonstrated peacefully and walked along the pre-planned route from Embankment to Hyde Park.

Steel bands, choirs, performers and dancers performed while the mass of people, many with their children in tow, blew horns and whistles as they passed alongside Parliament.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told a rally in Hyde Park that the government was wrong to make such deep cuts in public services.

He was heckled by a number of protestors when he said that ‘some cuts’ were needed.

He said: ‘Every one of us knows that today the country faces difficult times. But we know too there is a different way.

‘We hold to some simple truths: We need jobs to cut the deficit. Unemployment is never a price worth paying. The next generation should never have their hopes sacrificed on the altar of dogmatic deficit reduction’.

Widespread disruption in London

A couple of hundred activists, some with their faces covered, used paint and bottles to attack shops, banks and the Ritz Hotel in London’s West End.

They had taunted and scuffled with the the police and violent incidents are continuing

Fireworks and flares were set off and a handful of activists.

Scotland Yard said light bulbs filled with ammonia were thrown at officers.

Commander Broadhurst with Scotland Yard said that the demonstrators, dressed head-to-toe in black and covered their faces, were in small groups and ‘quite mobile.’

He added that video evidence would be used in an attempt to make arrests in the coming days.

Paint, fireworks and flares were thrown at buildings, while the outnumbered police were attacked with large pieces of wood.
Scotland Yard said lightbulbs filled with ammonia were also thrown at their officers.

The police often had to step aside as the activists continued their destruction.

Four officers were treated for minor injuries and one was taken to hospital with a groin injury.

The Ritz, a Porsche showroom and a Lloyds TSB branch also suffered damage which continued into the night.

A spokesman for civil liberties group Liberty said that ‘the demonstration appeared to have been infiltrated by violent elements who periodically separated from the main route in order to attack high profile commercial properties and the police before melting into the demonstration once more.

He continued, this minority presented significant challenges for the police and trade union stewards alike and at times jeopardised both the safety and ability to protest of those with peaceful intent.’

Meanwhile, in Belfast trade unionists and supporters marched through the city centre to demonstrate against spending cuts.

6,000 people took part in the protest which culminated in a rally at Belfast City Hall.

The Assistant General Secretary of ICTU, Peter Bunting, told the crowd that spending reductions in health and education would hurt the vulnerable.

He also said that cuts in public services were ‘an attack on the security of women’ as ‘most of the jobs under threat’ are carried out by women.

The Northern Ireland Executive recently passed a four year budget to take account of a £4bn reduction in the block grant from Britain.

There are also fears that up to 30,000 public sector jobs in Northern Ireland could be axed as a result of cuts announced by the British government.

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