Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Obama can expect a week of protests ahead of G-20

British bankers won’t wear ties as groups threaten violence ahead of the economic summit in London.

By Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor / March 29, 2009

Demonstrators gather at a rally in Hyde Park in central London on Saturday. Thousands of people marched in Britain, France and Germany to protest about the global economic crisis and urge world leaders to act on poverty, jobs and climate change at a G20 summit next week.

Toby Melville/Reuters



Saturday's protest march by some 35,000 people went off peacefully here, in fact there was a carnival atmosphere, complete with brass bands and clowns.

Skip to next paragraph

But British authorities are preparing for a difficult week in the run up to Thursday's Group of 20 meeting of world leaders. Many fear that protests planned could spill over into the type of street riots not seen here for years.

Bankers and others working in London's financial heart have been advised by the authorities to dress down and swap suits for casual wear. On Wednesday (April 1), a disparate collection of activist groups plans to occupy the city for what they bill as a "Financial Fools Day."

Why no ties?

Last week, anonymous individuals vandalized the Edinburgh, Scotland, home and car of Fred Goodwin, the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, whose bank received a government bailout and who has become a focus for public anger over his refusal to return a $24 million pension.

More than 10,000 shifts will be worked by police this week in London by officers from all over the country as part of a security effort estimated to cost $10 million.

All time off for London police has been canceled, and reinforcements have been brought in to bolster the ranks of more 3,000 officers on the day of Wednesday's protests, which senior officers have predicted will be "very violent," according to press reports.


Potential flash points include an event called "G-20 Meltdown," which will see groups converging on the Bank of England for spontaneous live music, street theater, and the hanging of effigies of bankers.

One of the organizers, Chris Knight, was suspended last week from his post as a lecturer in anthropology at the University of East London after telling the BBC that real bankers could also be "hanging from lampposts."

In a separate newspaper interview, Mr. Knight warned, "If they [the police] want violence, they'll get it." He went on to advise bankers that on April 1 "if you're thinking of coming in, my advice is don't."

At the same time as the Bank of England protests, at least 1,500 ecological activists will march on the European Climate Exchange carrying tents and other supplies needed for a 24 hour occupation, while left-wing groups, British Muslim organizations, and thousands of members of the public will march on the United States Embassy in London.

In addition to the publicized protests, police are on the alert for sporadic occupations of banks and public buildings, attempts to block the movement of G-20 delegations, and vandalism by various fringe anarchist groups.


Leading protest organizers have publicly rejected suggestions that they are out to spark violence.