By Brian Lysaght and Thomas Penny
April 2 (Bloomberg) — Police sealed off the Group of 20 summit meeting in London with a ring of barricades after clashes yesterday between protesters and police led to 111 arrests. One man collapsed and died.
Police erected barriers about half a mile (0.8 kilometers) from the Excel Centre, where world leaders discussed ways to end the global economic decline. Today’s demonstrations, involving around 600 people at the center in east London and around 150 at the Bank of England, were smaller and quieter than yesterday’s.
Those protests, dubbed “Financial Fools Day,” drew about 5,000 people to the streets around the Bank of England. Demonstrators and police scuffled, and some protesters broke into a Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc branch. The cause of the man’s death is under investigation.
This week’s operation, involving 10,000 officers, may be the biggest for the U.K. capital’s police since the hunt for failed suicide bombers in July 2005. About 5,000 officers were deployed in November 2003, when then-President George W. Bush came to London for a state visit.
Many protesters blamed the economy’s decline on bankers and politicians. The World Bank is warning of an “unemployment crisis.” In Britain, the economy has contracted the most since 1980, and the U.S. Labor Department reported today that the nation’s jobless rate is now the highest since 1982.
Young Hit ‘Hardest’
“Unemployment is hitting young people hardest, and we don’t see why young people should be paying for the losses of the banks,” said Becci Heagney, 21, a student at the University of Leicester, in central England. She was among about 100 people on a Youth and Jobs march to the Excel Centre.
The area around the exhibition center is being guarded by hundreds of police in riot gear, officers on horseback and others in boats at the Royal Victoria Dock adjacent to the site.
Members of a noisy and peaceful crowd ranged from anti- nuclear groups to Ethiopian opposition activists.
The G-20 leaders “are coming here to decide how to carve up Africa without the consent of African people,” said Likay Nkongo, a 29-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who was outside the Excel Centre. “They need to find a way to solve the crisis and one way out is to carve up Africa.”
A climber dressed as Spiderman scaled the Lloyd’s of London insurance market building today, and unfurled a banner before returning to the ground and being questioned by police.
Around 150 protesters returned to the Bank of England at 1 p.m. and criticized the police for the man’s death yesterday. They shouted “shame on you” at officers.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission said in an e- mail it would begin an official investigation into the incident. Police said in an e-mailed statement they were pelted with bottles as they tried to give the man first aid.
At yesterday’s demonstrations outside the Bank of England, protesters blew whistles, banged on drums and carried signs reading “abolish money” and “capitalism kills.” They hanged a banker in effigy from traffic lights and scrawled “built on blood” on a wall of the central bank.
Many workers in the financial district, known as the City, dressed casually, spurning business suits and heeding police warnings that they should avoid becoming targets for protesters.
Military Personnel Carrier
Officers raided two buildings they suspect were being used by squatters who took part in the violence yesterday, the police said. There were 21 people arrested today, 86 yesterday and four on March 31. The figures also include 11 people found wearing police uniforms inside a modified military personnel carrier near RBS’s London headquarters in Bishopsgate, police said.
Twenty-five people were arrested for violent disorder, and police are reviewing videotape of yesterday’s protests to identify suspects who caused violence, said police Commander Simon O’Brien.
RBS was rescued by the U.K. government, and former chief executive Fred Goodwin was widely criticized for accepting a 703,000-pound ($1 million) annual pension.
Officers broke up a “climate camp” outside the European Climate Exchange in Bishopsgate overnight. Protesters opposed to the market in carbon emissions had set up tents in the road yesterday.
To contact the reporters on this story: Thomas Penny in London at firstname.lastname@example.org; Brian Lysaght in London at email@example.com.
Last Updated: April 2, 2009 11:20 EDT