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Police Trying to 'Smear' Peaceful G20 Protests

Brendan Bourne

Thousands of demonstrators march through central London. Tens of thousands of trade unionists, environmental campaigners and anti-globalisation activists took to the streets of London to start five days of protests before the G20 summit. (AFP/Shaun Curry)

LONDON - Organisers of some of the protests planned in London over the next week to coincide with the G20 summit have complained that police briefings have given the impression that demonstrations will be mounted by anarchists intent on causing trouble.

Thousands of police will be on duty next week for the run-up to the summit on Thursday and to deal with any violence.

Events start today with a march for "jobs, justice and climate", organised by an unprecedented alliance of more than 150 unions, environment, charity, faith and development groups.

Tens of thousands from across the UK and abroad will join a rally in Hyde Park, which will hear calls for action to save jobs, support a low-carbon economy and stricter control of the finance sector.

Organisers have rejected claims that the event will be anything other than peaceful and law-abiding as "smears".

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Council (TUC), said there had never before been such a broad coalition with a clear message for world leaders.

"The old ideas of unregulated free markets do not work, and have brought the world's economy to near-collapse, failed to fight poverty and have done far too little to move to a low-carbon economy," he said.

"Of course the G20 will not solve everything in a day's work, but leaders must sign up to both boost the world economy and govern it better, and show us that they are trying to build a better world," he added.

Other protests planned over the next week include the Alternative London Summit - billed as a popular assembly or "teach-in" at the Docklands campus of the University of East London on April 1, a day before the official summit opens at the ExCeL centre nearby.

Speakers will include Tony Benn, the veteran campaigner, Ken Loach, the film director, Ken Livingstone, former mayor of London, John McDonnell Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington who has led a campaign against Heathrow expansion, and Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green party.

Camp For Climate Action, a national network of climate activists who have organised high-profile eco-action camps at Drax power station in Yorkshire in 2006, Heathrow in 2007 and Kingsnorth power station in Kent last year, is planning a 24-hour "flashcamp" in the City of London Square Mile, expecting thousands of people to converge at 12.30pm on April 1.

Campaign Against Climate Change will stage a "climate emergency ice-berg demo" outside the ExCeL centre on the afternoon of April 1, followed by an evening rally. The group says it will bring a giant ice block and is encouraging supporters to bring their own ice blocks and dress in white to highlight the rate of melting of the polar ice cap because of global warming.

The broad coalition of protestors also includes: G20 Meltdown, which is calling for G20 ministers to admit that their global dominance is the problem, not the solution to the current economic, ecological and political problems:People and Planet, a student network campaigning on world poverty, human rights and the environment, is encouraging members to protest against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) on April 1, which could include actions in London. The group is also targeting RBS's annual general meeting in Edinburgh on April 3: Rising Tide, a network of groups and individuals taking local action on climate change. Activists have dubbed April 1 "Fossil Fools Day", and are planning secret protests at fossil fuel targets around the country: Stop The War Coalition and CND, anti-war groups which have organised major protests against military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan are organising a rally at the US embassy in London on April 1, as well as a protest at the summit on April 2 at 11am, calling for troops to be withdrawn from the two countries: Youth Fight for Jobs, a campaign highlighting the lack of jobs for young people. A March for Jobs, in the tradition of the Jarrow Marchers, will be held on April 2, passing through some of the poorest boroughs in London.


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