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The BBC's Nicholas Witchell
"An afternoon of anarchy"
 real 28k

Deputy Asst Comissioner Michael Todd
"The organisers have been totally irresponsible"
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Monday, 1 May, 2000, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Violence at May Day protest
Under fire: McDonald's is targeted
Masked demonstrators fought running battles with police and destroyed a fast food restaurant during an anti-capitalist protest in London.

About 30 people were arrested and nine police officers were injured - three of them needing hospital treatment - during the attacks.

Their actions have nothing to do with conviction or belief and everything to do with mindless thuggery.

Tony Blair
A small group of protesters targeted a McDonald's restaurant in the Strand where one policeman was hit by a flying brick as the crowd smashed every window in the burger bar.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has condemned the protesters as an "absolute disgrace".

"Their actions have nothing to do with conviction or belief and everything to do with mindless thuggery," he said.

Running battles

Riot police sealed off Trafalgar Square where about 1,000 people had gathered for the demonstration.

But as police opened up a corridor to allow the campaigners to leave violence again broke out in The Strand where police faced a barrage of bottles and sticks.
Winston Churchill
Demonstrators defaced a statue of Winston Churchill

Running battles between protesters and police also broke out in Kennington Park.

The day - the end of four days of protest in the capital - had started peacefully with an almost carnival-like atmosphere.

There was a massive police presence around Whitehall but little sign of trouble early in the day.

Demonstrators dug up clumps of turf and planted seeds as part of their guerrilla gardening campaign - to return parts of urban London to nature.

But violence broke out among a minority of protesters.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mike Todd said officers were attacked with "missiles, iron bars and scaffolding".

Protester on roof
A protester climbs onto a vehicle

"One police officer had a brick thrown in his face and others were beaten to the ground," he said.

A passer-by who witnessed the attack on the burger restaurant described how protesters stormed the building armed with bricks, hammers and batons.

"A gang appeared out of nowhere and charged straight into the restaurant," said Jason Jarvis, 33.

"Within seconds it looked like a bomb had gone off inside with glass spraying out onto the street.

"Nothing inside was left untouched and people who were just in the area ran away screaming. Everything appeared to have been quite peaceful until this happened."

frightened girl
Caught up in the violence

A neighbouring souvenir shop also came under attack.

A cameraman filming the attack on the McDonald's outlet was set on by the crowd who beat him up and smashed his camera.

The Cenotaph and a statue of Winston Churchill were defaced with graffiti.

Holiday leave for the capital's police officers was cancelled to avoid a repeat of last year's demonstration in the city's financial centre.

A police spokeswoman confirmed that 5,500 officer from the Metropolitan Police, the City of London Police and the British Transport Police were on duty specifically to deal with the protests.

A further 9,000 officers were ready to be deployed if needed.

seed planting
Planting seeds in Parliament Square

Operations were co-ordinated by Scotland Yard's control centre, where 100 officers monitored CCTV cameras and passed on intelligence to police on the ground.

Last year's protest by about 10,000 people started peacefully but descended into chaos and injuries for both officers and demonstrators.

Some marchers burned cars, smashed office windows and fought with riot police, leaving a 2m pound trail of destruction.

Manchester arrests

Twenty people were arrested at a similar anti-capitalist rally in Manchester.

A demonstration by 250 people in Piccadilly gardens dispersed into small groups who then targeted shops, fast food restaurants and the city's metrolink system.

Cross city trams were halted as a result of a sit down protest on the main junction and protesters attempted to reach a McDonald's restaurant on Oxford Street.

A huge police presence, backed up by 30 mounted officers and a police helicopter, kept the protesters contained in small areas and then led them from the city centre.

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