Protest bacchanalia ends in rowdyism, paralyse London Tube (Evening lead)

June 1st, 2008 - 9:37 pm ICT by admin  

London, June 1 (IANS) Police arrested 17 people and closed six London Underground stations after thousands of revellers organised a non-stop drinks party late Saturday night to protest a ban on tippling in the city’s most popular mass transit system. Four train drivers and three Underground staff were assaulted, one police vehicle was damaged and two officers assaulted and another was injured in the chaotic revelry that paralysed the underground transport system, a Guardian online report said Sunday.

Drunken partygoers began fighting and vomiting as the midnight ban on drinking drew nearer, eyewitnesses said, and added that the stench of alcohol made “sick all over the place”.

Various parties were organised by groups on social networking sites, with titles including “One final tube booze party” and “Let’s get hammered on the tube day”.

The drinking sessions mainly took place on the orbital Circle line.

They began as light-hearted events ahead of an alcohol ban imposed by the new Conservative London mayor, Boris Johnson.

At the start of the evening, partygoers of all ages, many in fancy dress, drank and sang in a boisterous, but friendly atmosphere but as the party progressed “more and more people seemed to be getting on”, photographer Desmond Fitzgerald said.

A fight broke out among five people and soon spread out, Fitzgerald said.

“The atmosphere had really changed by this point. People were ripping off adverts and maps and being sick all over the place.”

A British Transport department police said: “This was an unfortunate end to what should have been a fun event.”

The mayor said: “I’m determined to improve the safety and security of public transport in London and create a better environment for the millions of Londoners who rely on it. The ban has the full support

For Indian student Mayuri Singh, it was a crazy experience.

She told IANS: “Today I witnessed total anarchy, but there was no misbehaviour towards fellow passengers. We were all stuck together, but no one pinched my bottom, or passed lewd remarks. There was drunken singing and drunken misbehaviour - but it was directed towards generally making a fool of themselves, and cussing Boris Johnson (new mayor), and vandalising the tube.”

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