Thursday, June 19, 2008

London protests Bush visit

SEVERAL thousand demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square last Sunday evening at short notice to protest at George Bush’s last state visit to Britain as he arrived in Downing Street to meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
A huge police operation, involving 1,200 officers – some on horseback, some with shield in full riot gear and steel barriers – barred any entry into Whitehall.
The protest began peacefully but as Bush arrived at about 6.30pm there was a surge towards the barrier and some clashes with the police. There were 25 arrests.
One protester, Suzanna Wylie, 29, was left bleeding from a head injury after being hit by a baton. She had been linking arms with protesters at the front of the crowd, trying to stop demonstrators surging forward.
She said: “I’ve been on lots of demonstrations before and every one of the Stop the War demonstrations has been peaceful.
“This time because Bush is here, specifically because Bush is here, because of his own security arrangements, they won’t let us demonstrate. If they let us demonstrate, there would have been none of this.”
Behind the surge traffic police promptly stopped any attempt at managing traffic around Parliament Square or in any streets in the area – which were congested with traffic.
Some drivers were hesitant to plough through the moving crowds of demonstrators, others were not. Eventually it was left to bus inspectors to intervene in a potentially very dangerous situation and direct the traffic.
Meanwhile the traffic police just looked on. They had clearly been given orders that only George Bush’s safety was of any importance.

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