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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 July, 2005, 14:22 GMT 15:22 UK
Opinions on Edinburgh G8 policing
A war of words has followed violent clashes in the centre of Edinburgh during anti-G8 protests.

The officer in charge of policing during the summit has defended the tactics, but protesters accused officers of being heavy-handed.

Here are extracts from what those who witnessed the clashes said.

CHIEF CONSTABLE PETER WILSON, HEAD OF G8 POLICE CO-ORDINATION CENTRE

It's local policing, front-line policing the way we do business round here.

That was achieved on Saturday at the very happy event because the organisers co-operated with us.

On Monday, the difference was that we had no-one who wanted to co-operate and we needed to make sure we made the city safe.

From my viewing of the pictures, Lothian and Borders Police seem to have co-ordinated an effort which kept most of the traffic out of the city, kept a safe environment.

Although I'm sure people may have been scared by the size of the operation, it was designed to ensure public safety and largely that's what we've achieved.

G8 ALTERNATIVES

Yesterday G8 Alternatives organised the hugely successful and entirely peaceful Alternatives Summit, which attracted 5,000 people to the biggest political discussion meeting Scotland has ever seen.

G8 Alternatives condemns the 'over the top' policing in Edinburgh on Monday, of what was understood to have been a festival of fun.

People have a right to protest without violence and intimidation.

According to eyewitness reports, police from at least seven different forces were involved. It is clear the police have engaged in 'over the top' intimidatory policing, which seems to have been out of all proportion to the protests mounted in Edinburgh.

Police tactics seem designed to distract attention from the real issues facing humanity and the planet - war, poverty and climate change.

SCOTTISH GREEN MSP MARK BALLARD

Police officers were letting people, including innocent bystanders - but also groups of young people drinking alcohol - into the areas where there were disturbances, but they were not letting anyone out.

We thought that the safest route would be through Princes St Gardens but once in there we found ourselves trapped between two lines of police.

The police gave no clear instruction regarding what they wanted the protesters - and bystanders who had found themselves caught up in it - to do. We moved into Princes St where we were pushed up and down the street . The police seemed to lack a clear plan about how to defuse the situation and there was no clear communication, for example by an officer with a loud-hailer.

Police were rushing into the crowd and antagonising them. It was the most surreal and bizarre policing I have ever seen.

Police seemed to be inflaming the situation by letting innocent bystanders wander into the areas of trouble, then not let them exit.

Today has sadly marked a departure from the good-natured and calm atmosphere of Saturday's march and I urge police and protesters to work to restore that calm ahead of Wednesday's summit.

JUSTICE MINISTER CATHY JAMIESON

Apologists for the individuals who brought violence and intimidation to our streets will argue that the way public safety and order was maintained stifled legitimate protest.

There is nothing legitimate about hurling a park bench in the middle of Princes Street.

Nothing spontaneous about threatening a police officer with a three-foot stave. A yob is a yob whether doing it for kicks, or doing it for politics.

Above all, we must not let this small minority deflect us all from what G8 in Scotland is all about.

DOUG KEIL, SCOTTISH POLICE FEDERATION

Nothing I saw yesterday in Edinburgh could be described as 'heavy handed'.

Police actions have been proportionate to the circumstances. Two hundred thousand Make Poverty History campaigners on Saturday got it right.

Their impressive and dignified protest focused attention on their cause.

The anarchists who created mayhem on Monday insulted, threatened, intimidated and assaulted police officers, had no legitimate cause, were threatening public safety and were appropriately dealt with.

SCOTTISH SOCIALIST LEADER COLIN FOX

I have witnessed some of the most violent policing of my entire life. I witnessed squads of riot police clear Princes Street Gardens by charging and attacking anyone who got in their way, including innocent Edinburgh people sunbathing after work.

The day started with a carnival atmosphere which was completely destroyed by heavy-handed and violent policing.

AAMAR ANWAR, G8 ALTERNATIVES

There's a hardcore group of officers here who seemed hell-bent on causing trouble and seemed to be enjoying causing trouble.

I have real difficulty with some of the English officers who have clearly come up here for fun and seemed to be enjoying what was going on around them.

No concern for innocent people, no concern for pensioners or for children and people who were quite honestly terrified by the actions of police officers.

DR MIKE ROW, LEICESTER UNIVERSITY

In terms of the tactics and the level of force used, it seems to have been fairly minor.

If what happened yesterday was the extent of the trouble we are likely to see around G8 then we'll look back and think things have been carried off fairly successfully from the point of view of police and protesters.

Compared to some of the violence we've seen at G8 summits in the past few years, then what happened yesterday was pretty small beer really.

MALE PROTESTER

You'll probably find the vast majority of people coming up the street are not from England, Germany, Italy or anywhere else.

They're from Edinburgh. I've never seen anything like it in my life and it made the miners' strike look like Disneyland.

FEMALE PROTESTER

We were innocent protesters who had nothing to do with it and we were rammed by police with their shields and I was saying 'chill out police, I've just been caught up in the wrong situation'.

NANCY DICKSON, EDINBURGH RESIDENT

It was dreadful. I was coming back to Morningside after visiting my friend in a hospital in Liberton and they were fighting.

I have nothing but praise for the police. They did a marvellous job considering what they were up against. The behaviour of those protesters was terrible. I saw tourists crying in the street. Everyone was so frightened.

Bob Geldof should be made to foot the bill for this. What he is calling for is good, but the minute you try to attract a crowd you get other elements who want to start trouble.



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