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The BBC's Sian Williams
"Two cities, two demonstration and one enemy - WTO"
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The BBC's James Helm
"Bottles and sticks were thrown at police"
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Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 18:49 GMT
London's WTO riot hangover
Police riot police Police said a minority of protesters caused the trouble

Clearing up is under way in London following violent clashes between police and anti-capitalist demonstrators.

Forty people were arrested and a police van set alight during the disturbances, which were part of an international day of protest to mark the opening session of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Seattle. Seven people, including a policeman, were injured.

Violence in Seattle led the Mayor, Paul Schell, to declare a civil emergency and call in National Guard troops, just hours before US President Bill Clinton's visit to address the WTO.

A police van was set alight by demonstrators
In London, about 500 activists gathered outside Euston railway station at the height of the evening rush hour, forcing police to close the busy Euston Road and block the way for homeward-bound commuters.

The largely peaceful demonstration erupted in violence when a group of 100 campaigners surged forward towards a wall of waiting police in riot gear.

A police car was forced back as missiles rained on officers.

Public disorder

A Scotland Yard spokesman said there had been 40 arrests, mainly for public order offences, offensive weapons, violent disorder, threatening behaviour and affray.

Several people were injured in the violence
Two people are due to appear in court on Wednesday charged in connection with the disturbances.

Keith Spence, 23, of Clapham, south London, and unemployed Gareth Williams, 20, are accused of violent disorder.

Student John Williams, 26, from Brixton, south London, is charged with disorderly behaviour and will appear before the same court on 8 December. Paul Robinson, 31, from north-west London, will appear on 9 December accused of violent disorder and common assault.

One man has been released on bail to return to Kentish Town police station in connection with a common assault charge.

The remaining 35 have yet to be charged or released.

Tuesday's events started slowly, with only a few dozen people protesting at Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and Oxford Street.

But by about 1730 GMT some 500 protesters had converged on Euston, encouraged by fly posters which had appeared around the capital overnight.

Bottles, cans and sticks

Trouble flared when small groups at the front of the crowd attempted to breach lines of police guarding the station and were followed by their fellow protesters.

Riot police moved in to push the mob back as bottles, cans and sticks were hurled at officers.

A British Transport Police van was overturned by the crowd and set on fire, covering the scene with a thick blanket of black smoke as masked demonstrators fought baton-wielding police.

Protesters emerged bleeding from the melee as officers attempted to push them away from the burning van, fearing it might explode.

'A violent minority'

One policeman, PC Paul Squires, 32, was injured when he was hit over the head by a litter bin.

He was taken to St Thomas's Hospital with a suspected spinal injury.

The violence followed a day of peaceful protests
By 1900 GMT the situation had become a stand-off but 30 minutes later there were still up to 150 demonstrators outside the station, with a further 100 close by in Euston Road.

This hard core of protesters was surrounded by police. The demonstrators were systematically searched and dispersed by about 2300 GMT, said Scotland Yard.

"We condemn the actions of this violent minority which marred the otherwise peaceful demonstrations which took place," said a Scotland Yard spokesman.


Protester Beatrice Stonemore, 21, said she and fellow activists had been cornered by more than 100 officers as they protested outside Euston station.

She said: "I admit that we caused some damage but what do you expect when we were provoked by so many military-style police officers who were not interested in any form of peaceful demonstration."

Ms Stonemore, who has been on several other demonstrations, said she understood there needed to be a police presence but believed this time it had been heavy-handed and too many officers had been involved.

"This won't stop us - all this will do is force us to come out with more numbers next time."

'Bent on violence'

Commander Judy Davison, of the City of London Police, said a hard core of 150 people had started the trouble and had been "bent on violence before they got here".

Commander Davison, speaking on behalf of the three forces which policed the riot - British Transport Police, City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police - held up a spanner and said it was one of the missiles thrown at officers during the riot.

"The actions of this minority have nothing to do with expressing a point of view or lawfully protesting about an issue. This is purely yobbish behaviour - it is violence for the sake of it, unnecessary and unprovoked."

Four of those taken into custody were arrested in connection with the anti-capitalism riot in the City, London's financial heart, in June.

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