Protesters take to streets, as G20 leaders prepare for summit

April 1st, 2009 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh London, April 1 (IANS) Calling Wednesday the ‘Financial Fool’s Day’, thousands of protesters tried to block downtown London, shouting anti-capitalism slogans, as G20 leaders prepared for a crucial summit a day later to find ways out of the worst global financial crisis in six decades.
As the city police heightened its security and put blockades around central London, some 1,200 protesters managed to storm outside the Bank of England, in what has, by and large, been a peaceful demonstration so far.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is among the G20 leaders already here for the summit, so is US President Barack Obama, collectively representing economies that account for 85 percent of the world’s output and two-thirds of its population.

As helicopters hovered over the city, policemen were also seen in the thousands - some on horseback, and many others wearing florescent green jackets, in what newspapers said was the largest ever security exercise.

The London Stock Exchange and the offices and headquarters of other financial institutions were the target of the protesters, who were heard shouting: “These streets our streets, these banks our banks”.

“This is London’s largest, most challenging security operation,” said Simon O’Brien, a senior commander with London’s Metropolitan Police.

“In terms of security, I cannot outline our plans, but I can say we have the right amount of officers and expertise,” he told reporters here.

Police officials said strategic roads had been cordoned off, manholes sealed, additional men deployed at posts and snipers placed strategically on rooftops in an operation that could cost over $10 million.

In some parts of the town, especially across the Bank of England, the protests momentarily turned ugly, when people started pelting eggs and sundry fruits at the policemen. A man was also seen bleeding profusely from what appeared to be a gash on his head.

In some other parts, the demonstrators were playing drums, cymbals and ringing bells loudly. Protesters were also seen wearing black masks and hoods to avoid being identified as the police were also filming the demonstrations.

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