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The BBC's James Pearce
"There was relief that the trail of destruction hadn't spread further"
 real 56k

Deputy Editor of Ecology Magazine, Paul Kingsnorth
"It's very difficult for them to get their message across any other way"
 real 56k

Michael Todd, Metropolitan Police
"We wanted this to be as peaceful as it possibly could"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 04:43 GMT 05:43 UK
May Day protest clean-up starts
Overturned car
Activists damaged cars and attacked shops
Central London is beginning its clean-up operation in the aftermath of the May Day protests.

Police claimed their tactics were successful in neutralising the threat of anti-capitalist rioters as thousands gathered in the capital's West End.

Most of the demonstrations passed off peacefully, although there were a handful of disturbances despite the presence of more than 6,000 police.

May Day protests
92 arrests in London
50 people injured
29 hospitalised
Three police officers hurt
400 join carnival-style protest in Glasgow
60 march in Manchester
Two arrests in Bristol
Activists criticised the decision to corral up to 5,000 demonstrators in Oxford Circus for more than eight hours, although police said this was necessary to avoid violence and damage to property.

There was a tense stand-off as police and demonstrators came to blows in a series of minor scuffles, but as night fell police drip-fed demonstrators out of the main crowd and by 2200BST on Tuesday just a few hundred remained in the Oxford Street area.

There was no repeat of last year's vandalism of monuments and widespread destruction.

Occasional skirmishes

But by the end of the day one group of militant activists was able to evade police in riot gear, smashing shop fronts on nearby Tottenham Court Road. They started to disperse shortly after 2230BST.

There had been occasional skirmishes elsewhere throughout a day of largely peaceful protest.

A supermarket in Victoria was "stormed" by 15 masked activists chanting anti-capitalist slogans and attempts were made to attack the Niketown and John Lewis stores on Oxford Street.

Police
Police made 92 arrests, mostly for minor offences
In one incident, a Jaguar caught up in the throngs of protesters was attacked.

Police made 92 arrests - including eight foreign nationals from Denmark, Poland, Belgium and the United States - and weapons seized by the police included a loaded airgun and a martial arts weapon.

Over 50 people were injured and 29 needed hospital treatment, London Ambulance Service said.

'Heavy-handed tactics'

They included three police officers, one of whom was a female officer who lost consciousness in the crush but was later discharged from hospital. One police horse was also hurt.

Protester Martin Empson was one of many who felt police tactics were "heavy-handed".


This appalling vandalism shows the decision to contain the protesters was right

Ken Livingstone
London mayor
He said: "We marched up towards Oxford Circus where we were boxed in by police for about seven hours.

"That left most of the protesters feeling incredibly frustrated and more than a little angry at what they saw as over-the-top policing."

But Metropolitan Police Authority chairman Lord Harris commended the police for their handling of the event.

"I believe they struck the right balance between facilitating peaceful demonstrations and deterring violent disorder," he said.

Loose alliance

"The police tactic of containment in and around the flashpoint of Oxford Street to avoid serious injuries to innocent people and damage to property proved to be the right one."

The London protests, joined by a loose alliance of anti-capitalists, environmental campaigners and animal rights activists, began in carnival style with mass cycle rides through the streets and chanting.

But the atmosphere became more heated after a large group gathered in Oxford Street at the climax of what the organisers called a game of May Day Monopoly, based on the board game's locations.

Protester
Protesters wanted to highlight problems within global capitalism
There were skirmishes between police and demonstrators in side streets and the worst of the trouble erupted when a large crowd of protesters tried to break through the police cordon at around 1600BST.

The protesters were contained in large groups around Oxford Circus but at around 2030BST up to 60 people broke away and focused on nearby Tottenham Court Road.

Rampage condemned

They overturned a car, smashed shopfronts with rocks and other missiles, targeting firms including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Abbey National, Barclays Bank, Coffee Republic and Habitat, and attempted to set fire to a Tesco store.

The protest is estimated to have cost London's businesses up to 20m in lost revenue as dozens of businesses were forced to shut with repair and policing costs also considerable.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone condemned the Tottenham Court Road rampage: "This appalling vandalism shows the decision to contain the protesters was right.

"The immediate turn to violence on dispersal indicates that this was the core objective of the organisers."

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