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G20 Protests: fear … and fear on London’s streets

I posted a bunch of jokey stuff this morning as an April Fool, but it is G20 Protest
Day and the live action of the G20 rally is no joke.  Based upon updates via Twitter of events through the day:

G20-meltdown

15:15

Police barricaded protesters in at Liverpool Street at 11:00 after
things got lively and there's an extreme police presence in the City
today, not surprisingly.

By 12:00, protesters converged on the Bank of England shouting: "Storm the bank", "Shame on you" and
"What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!"

Many held
banners, with some of the funnier ones saying things like: "Make Love, Not Leverage" and a fluffy toy of a (dead) canary to represent Canary Wharf.

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At 14:00, the Royal Bank of Scotland's branch in Bartholomew Lane, next to the Bank of England, had its windows broken,
with protesters entering and urinating on the floor.  Apparently a lot
of people are urinating on bank doors across the City (yuch! are they taking the a piss or what?).

Riot police now take action and some trouble ignites.

Meanwhile, a crowd has also gathered outside the US Embassy, but
police are keeping things under strict control at both Threadneedle and
US Embassy.  Most trouble is centred right now around the Bank of England however.

N0i

Picture from Ethical Man

Royal Bank of Scotland staff told to go home from Head Office (Bishopsgate).  Deutsche Bank staff locked in offices.

Whilst my capital market friends at one bank just sent this chant:

What do we want?
Derivative market reform and improved capital adequacy for the banking sector!

When do we want it?
In due course, following appropriate stakeholder consultation…

More live on the BBC and in photographs.

Also noted is the currency of the activists, as they do need money after all:

G20-meltdown note 

G20-meltdown note1 

16:30

Breaking the windows of RBS and attacking the branch.

G20-Protests-G20-Protests-001

Picture source: the Guardian

Looks bad doesn't it?

But some of this looks more "stage managed" than perhaps we first think:

I5N5 

Just look at all those photographers … and some folks have even managed to create a video:

 

There's also a bunch of police inside the branch who blow out the flames of fire as the protesters try to wreak havoc.

23 are arrested and the police create a ring fence so they cannot leave.

Some
bankers joined the protest (?) and a sign in one bank window said
"Whilst you are protesting, we are repossessing your home", whilst some
City workers apparently leaned out of windows waving £10 and £20 notes
at the protesters … nice.

More pictures from Sky News.

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15253470

17:15

Been keeping up with G20 and protests all day on Twitter and then saw this:

Is the G20 summit a turning point for Twitter?

Yep, especially as many of the pics and links I've used today came through Twitter, including many people caught up at Bank Tube where they are cordoned off by police:

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Pic from Joe the Drummer

Timely to talk about why Twitter matters, wasn't it?

18:45

Just
watched the news headlines and several thousand folks still appear to
be cordoned off around the Bank of England by police.  They are
chanting "let us out" but being ignored. 

Back to Twitter and one journalist
reports "police brutality! Attacking anyone,even those running away and
journalists.  I got a shield in the face. Patience run out."

As a result, rioting has started it's claimed:

Bear
in mind most of these people have now been blocked from leaving the
area for six hours and tempers are starting to break, even with those
who were demonstrating peacefully.

Similarly, reports are that the initial trouble flared when police blocked exits from the area.

24 arrests made so far.

Many protesters peaceful.

19:15

Police move against the climate change group.

65d6af4a-082c-49de-8d00-6e0b5ec0b279_m

Picture: Jon Purkis

Jon Purkis says: "I just saw 100s of peaceful protestors needlessly beaten by police, whilst shouting this is not a riot @climatecamp. Absoutely disgusting."

The police action was followed by the crowd shouting: "This is not a riot,
shame on you" at the police and holding their hands up in peace.

Seems a bit extreme, but this is what's coming out from ground force twitterers.

19:45

Jon Packman of the Climate Change group report that "the riot police charged us for no reason and now we're sitting in front of them after getting battered. Unbelievable."

Kuxi reckons the police are disappointed that the crowd didn't react, whilst Pete Blakemore says that it "seems like a lot
of journalists arent concerned with getting material anymore, but more
about their own safety, myself included." 

Thank goodness it seems like sanity is starting to come to the situation, as some folks are now being allowed to leave.

20:50

I
thought it would have finished by now as the police would want to get
home and see England beat the Ukraine in the World Cup Qualifiers but
no … it goes on.

Southbites says they're "in front of dozens of riot police. Bloody intimidating. London bridge."

Matt tweets "Is anyone else hemmed in by riot police on bishopsgate? Cosy isn't it?"

Tristam says "north of Climate Camp on Bishopsgate. it's completely hemmed in by police. being
a camp, they're prepared for th long haul", and posts this picture:

4517597-d4438333080ece4c2d7e1aa2ed5c9777.49d3c773-scaled

No wonder Clive Flint asks: "And now it seems the Police aren't letting the protesters leave. Do they want a riot? Seems a good way to get one.

Thanks to George Monbiot at the Guardian who has just posted this:

G20 protests: Riot police, or rioting police?

At the G20 protests in London only one group appears to be looking for violent confrontation – and it's not the protesters

22:00

Well, today is no April Fool.

Jon Packman: "Still blockaded by riot police. Never experienced anything like it. Even at millwall. Serious misuse of powers. Animals."

Keith Mannock: "Just gone past the Bank of England. Incredible number of police. So many in riot gear. Protesters throwing bottles. Oh dear."

Red Pepper Mag: "'We
didn't start the fire … No we didn't light it. But we tried to fight
it.' Climate Camp still blocked but we won't give up."

Daniel Vockins: "Just got shoved by the riot cops for standing still with my arms in the air – police were calling ppl "f***ing c***s."

23:45

OK, so I'm turning in for the night and did a quick final check on what's happened.  And yes, this is the final check and no continuation past this post.

There are about 300 people left at Liverpool Street trying to get home. 

There were rumours that a man collapsed near the Bank of England and subsequently died.  This was around 19:30, when the police surges were at full charge, and the rumours have now been confirmed.

The number arrested is now up at 63, and the official BBC summary of the day says that RBS, HSBC and other banks were broken into with windows smashed.

I find that the day is exactly what we predicted … or maybe not.

The police managed the crowd by keeping them penned in like sheep for the day with no ability to move or leave, regardless of whether they were violent or peaceful.

From my connection with the twittering crowd today, I can only say that I felt their frustration and anger on the end of the wire.

As a result, some would say, Boris Johnson, Gordon Brown and Sir Paul Stephenson … shame on you.  On the other hand, others may say that they're only anarchists and anticapitalists and we can now have a safe and secure G20 summit, so who cares?

You can take your own view.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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