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Deputy Assistant Commissioner Michael Todd
"They did a damn good job"
 real 28k

The BBC's Roger Harrabin
"It started peacefully enough"
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The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Monument after monument has been daubed"
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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Police defend May Day tactics
police officers
Police say a minority of protesters caused problems
Police have defended the way they dealt with the May Day anti-capitalist protest in London.

Ninety-five people were arrested after violence broke out during the demonstration.

Nine police officers and more than 20 members of the public were hurt.

Paint was also daubed on the Cenotaph and a statue of Sir Winston Churchill.

Shops were looted, car windows smashed and bricks and bottles hurled through the air.

Sir Winston Churchill
Statue of Sir Winston Churchill was defaced
Police were criticised in some national newspapers for not intervening earlier when demonstrators started tearing up the grass in the centre of Parliament Square and defacing the monuments.

But Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mike Todd said he was satisfied with his officers' performance.

"They handled this in a professional proportionate manner. They put up with enormous provocation from a small minority of protesters. I think they did a damn good job," he said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the attacks on the memorials as "mindless thuggery".

Beneath contempt

"To deface the Cenotaph and the statue of Winston Churchill is simply beneath contempt," he said.

"It is only because of the bravery and courage of our war dead that these idiots can live in a free country at all."

The people that committed this damage will be held to account for those crimes

Metropolitan Police

Mr Todd said he regretted the damage but promised that the culprits would be brought to justice.

He said: "We did all we could to protect people. People had to come first.

"We had an operation designed to gather evidence and the people that committed this damage will be held to account for those crimes."

McDonald's attack
A McDonald's restaurant in Whitehall was trashed by protesters
It is thought the bill for repairing the damage and paying for the emergency services could come to 500,000.

Many of those arrested have been charged with violent disorder, criminal damage, rioting and being drunk and disorderly. More arrests are expected.

The policing of the demonstration was the biggest operation of its type for the Met in 30 years.

More than 5,500 officers from the Metropolitan Police, the City of London Police and the British Transport Police were on duty specifically to deal with the protest.

Tear gas

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

Mr Todd said if police had tried to protect specific monuments the crowd might have moved off and attacked other monuments in the area

"What we had was a professional, proportionate response to make sure we could respond as flexibly as we could," he said.

He contrasted the London demonstration with others around Europe where police were forced to resort to using tear gas and water cannons.

'Mindless thugs'

Home Secretary Jack Straw also praised the Met, saying: "The police showed exemplary professionalism. Londoners and the whole country should be proud of them for dealing with these thugs and criminals."

Mr Straw contrasted a peaceful march organised by the TUC in London on Sunday with the behaviour of the anti-capitalist protesters.

He said: "At one end of the The Strand we had a peaceful demonstration by people who in a dignified way were protesting about the future of their jobs.

"At the other end we had mindless criminal thugs intent on destruction in pursuit allegedly of some political agenda."

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See also:

01 May 00 | UK
May Day mayhem
01 May 00 | Europe
May Day riots erupt in Germany
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