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The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Despite nightfall, the stand off continues"
 real 56k

Protestor Martin Empson
says protestors are angry at the over the top policing
 real 56k

The BBC's David Shukman
"The message was there is another way to do things"
 real 56k

Paul Kingsnorth, editor of The Ecologist magazine
"It is absolutely fascinating how organised they are"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 1 May, 2001, 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
London May Day stand-off continues
Police and protesters
Police adopted a policy of containment
Riot police are slowly dispersing about 1,500 anti-capitalist protesters penned in on London's main shopping street.

Some of the 6,000 police drafted in for the demonstrations are still containing protesters at Oxford Circus.

But officers are "gradually" allowing people to leave the area in an attempt to minimise the risk of the group reassembling.

Police and demonstrators have come to blows in a series of minor scuffles during the day, but there has been no sign of the extensive rioting of a year ago.

More than 40 people have been arrested, more than 10 injured and BBC correspondents say the situation in Oxford Street is still tense.

South Korean workers on the march
World protest: South Korean workers march
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said protesters would remain contained until it was "appropriate and safe to disperse them".

Earlier, there were violent demonstrations in Australia and Germany as May Day prompted protests against multinational corporations and trade bodies around the world.

Buildings were blockaded in Melbourne and Sydney and dozens were arrested as police moved in with water cannon in Berlin.


Schools and a library in Westminster were closed on May Day and dozens of London businesses lost millions of pounds after being forced to shut.

Fifteen activists, masked by balaclavas, stormed into a Sainsbury's store in central London screaming anti-capitalist chants, while others hurled concrete slabs at police.

Officers exchanged blows with demonstrators at several points around Oxford Street as crowds surged earlier in the day.

At one stage demonstrators staged a sit-down protest outside the Niketown and H&M shops at Oxford Circus.

There were reports of fighting between the protesters themselves, the Met spokesman said.

Protester with a nosebleed
A handful of protesters have been injured
"There is still a hardcore of almost 1,000 protesters within the demonstrators that are preventing the police from dispersing the crowd at present," said the spokesman.

"These people are involved in causing disorder, throwing missiles and are not involved in a lawful process," he added.

There are fears that other actions could break out around the city as night falls.

But as yet there have been no reports of major trouble and most of the arrests - which include eight foreign nationals from Poland, Denmark, Belgium, and the United States - have been for relatively minor offences.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said that while the situation "could still get worse", there was a marked contrast between London and other capitals where violence had flared.

The Met said two officers had been injured during the day's events. One received a minor back injury and was treated at the scene, while news of the second officer, who was taken to hospital, is still awaited.

Early protests 'peaceful'

The day's demonstrations began with a 500-strong go-slow cyclists' protest, disrupting morning rush-hour traffic on some of London's busiest routes.

Police held up several hundred cyclists in a side-street at Euston Square to try to prevent further traffic problems.

Other organised events such as bird feeding in Trafalgar Square and a demonstration outside the Queen's bank, Coutts in The Strand, have passed peacefully with police heavily outnumbering protesters.

Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Mike Todd denied police had over-reacted by predicting widespread violence.

Naked protester
Rain and cold did not deter protesters
He told the BBC the aim was to deter violence and the peaceful start to the day had "vindicated" the Met's strategy.

Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe has called for any acts of violence or vandalism to be taken "very seriously.

"If anyone really causes a disturbance or serious damage then they must not be treated lightly by the courts and they must not be eligible for Jack Straw's early release schemes," she said.

This year's event is described as "May Day Monopoly" after the board game with some 240 targets for protest likely to be capitalist organisations chosen from streets in the game.

Protesters are demonstrating against a variety of issues including the fur trade, global capitalism and the World Bank.

Police forces elsewhere in the UK were dealing with smaller anti-capitalist demonstrations in Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

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