Anti-G20 protesters attack banks, one dead

April 2nd, 2009 - 10:42 am ICT by IANS  

London, April 2 (DPA) Violent anti-globalisation protests overshadowed the Group of 20 (G20) summit Wednesday in London as campaigners vandalised banks and clashed with heavily armed riot police.
One fatality was reported in the wake of the demonstrations, but the cause was not immediately explained.

Some 4,000 protesters converged with chants of “hang a banker” and “storm the banks” on the Bank of England and later vandalised the London headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Police said that 24 protesters were arrested and several officers were injured in the clashes. Only a minority of the demonstrators were involved in the confrontation with police, reporters said.

Police said that a man was found unconscious in the street Wednesday evening by a person who alerted police.

The man was not breathing when two officers arrived at the scene, and they were pelted with bottles while attempting artificial resuscitation. Medics said that the man, described by witnesses as looking about 30 years old, died while being transported to a hospital, according to British media.

A handful of protesters, their faces masked by bandanas, managed to enter the RBS building and gain access to the roof. The building was empty, though, as RBS workers had been advised to stay at home because of the protests.

RBS, which reported record losses last year of 28 billion pounds ($40 billion), has been at the centre of public anger during the banking crisis.

Protesters cheered as an office chair was used to smash the large, blacked-out windows of the RBS building.

The private home of its former chief executive, Fred Goodwin, was attacked by vandals last week in Edinburgh, Scotland.

With a diverse mix of anti-war campaigners, anti-poverty groups, anarchists and climate change activists, demonstrators were penned in for hours as riot police and mounted officers were deployed.

Some accused police of “going over the top” in their efforts to control the demonstrators, many of whom were “ordinary citizens” angered by the impact the financial crisis on their lives.

Protesters held up banners proclaiming “Balls to the Banks” and “Punish the looters” while carrying effigies of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Meanwhile, bankers leaning out of office windows taunted demonstrators down below by waving 10-pound notes at them, provoking a response of shouts and cheers.

Many bankers and office workers heeded security advice to “dress down” in sweaters and jeans, rather than the customary suits and ties, to avoid being targeted.

“I am here to make sure that peace happens rather than war,” said Mirthful Merryweather, a nurse among the protesters.

Christine Hickey, 64, said: “I’m just fed up with the bankers who’ve got away with taking all this money. People are losing jobs and their homes, and I’m fed up with it.”

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