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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 02:12 GMT
From carnival to chaos
protest Lie-down protest: A protester dozes at Euston

By BBC News Online's Jonathan Morris at Euston Station

The carnival turned to chaos without warning.

Salsa rhythms from a group of drummers were replaced by the sound of hundreds of people running for the police cordon.

adrian Adrian Peacock: Calm before the chaos
Suddenly, what had been a peaceful protest at Euston station, descended into violence.

The protest had been peaceful all day and by the evening families and old and young people had gathered outside the front entrance of the north London railway station.

People tapped their feet to the drumming, dozed off in the flower pots, sold magazines and mingled in an atmosphere light years away from the violent protests which hit the City of London in June, dubbed J18 in demo speak.

This protest had been billed as N30 by demonstrators, sister to J18.

Family protest: Christian, Ruben and Josephine
The aim was to highlight the plight of nations adversely affected by the policies of the World Trade Organisation which is meeting in Seattle.

Thousands of other protesters from around the world joined in the protests which were co-ordinated partly via the internet.

The police, who were caught out at J18, were making no mistakes this time.

Helicopters hovered overhead and officers in riot gear and shields contained the area around the station.

Despite the heavy police presence, the protesters, who numbered around 1,000, were able to move freely.

degan Dave Degen: "Message is getting across"
Magazine seller Adrian Peacock from London, said that the protesters had had a successful day.

"The protests were organised on a global scale and this is the first time that has happened.

"From that point of view it has been a success."

Dave Degan of Watford said: "The message is getting across - a lot of people are starting to show their support and consider the issues."

Christian, who was with his son Ruben and partner Josephine said he would have liked to have seen something to draw attention to the protest.

He said: "You can cause major disruption with a peaceful protest - we could have all sat in the road."

A commuter is caught up in the trouble
What followed was to make headlines that Christian craved, but not in the way he would have liked.

A 150-strong wave of hard-core protesters surged towards the police lines at the southern end of the station.

Officers without any protection other than their truncheons formed a line against the mob who began throwing bricks, bottles and sticks.

Riot police in vans parked along the Euston Road immediately grabed their batons and shields and marched fast in single file to back up their colleagues.

Van torched

But before they could act, a group of protesters swung west, towards the Railtrack offices.

For about an hour the police struggled to contain the mob, which lurched in one direction and then the other.

Then, perhaps in frustration at being penned in, protesters torched a transport police van.

As smoke filled the air the police attempted to push them away from the burning van, fearing it might explode.

Individual clashes with protesters continued but the mass surges that had sparked the initial confrontation with subsided.

danny Danny Birchall: "Disruption makes a point"
By 9pm the situation had calmed to a stand-off with up to 150 demonstrators outside the station.

Riot police moved in to split the demonstrators and a line of police officers took the names, addresses and photographs of those penned in.

Protester Danny Birchall said that he approved of the protesters' actions.

"Disruption makes a point. People can walk way from a sit-down or demonstration, but disrupting the mechanism is much more effective at getting the attention of the people that have the real power.

"Those that run the WTO will probably take no notice of what happened at Euston station on its own - but the combined effect of N30 on a global scale might just make them think."

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See also:
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