Wednesday, April 1, 2009


LONDON -- Activists clashed with riot police today, and smashed into the Bank of Scotland. The violence at the G20 summit follows Saturday's peaceful march of 35,000 people demanding jobs, economic justice, and environmental accountability, kicking off six days of protests and actions.


As presidents and prime ministers (and a few royals) convene to tackle the global financial crisis, what is happening out in the streets? Will a handful of bad apples -- police and protesters alike -- give the protests a bad name? Will the media focus on the violence and avoid the issues? Who are the protesters and what do they want?

Need a scorecard? The Guardian published a cheeky "guide" to the protest here.


What was happening inside? A British official (who spoke on condition of anonymity) said the Group of 20 rich and developing countries would likely approve giving more than $500 billion to the IMF so it can increase its loans to governments struggling because of the financial crisis. Two other insiders said France and Germany had "persuaded the Group of 20 leaders to back tougher language in the final statement to avoid a repeat of the current crisis."

According to the Washington Post, leaders "were moving closer Thursday to taking broad steps to combat the global economic crisis, including the regulation of hedge funds, new transparency on offshore tax havens and dramatically boosting the cash available to hard-hit developing countries."


The best overview of the protest was probably experienced by the French daredevil Alain Robert who scaled Lloyds of London's high-rise headquarters, as office workers below snapped photos. Robert, dubbed the French Spiderman, has scaled dozens of tall structures around the world without ropes or harnesses to draw attention to global warming. He was later led away by police.

media focus: peaceful protester, or black-clad anarchist smashing windows?

London news report, March 28th, 2009


April 1st, a mass group of anti-capitalist and climate change activists clashed with riot police in downtown London, breaking into the heavily guarded Royal Bank of Scotland and smashing its windows. Earlier, they tried to storm the Bank of England and pelted police with eggs and fruit.

Green activists march past Big Ben

At least 4,000 anarchists, anti-capitalists, environmentalists and others jammed into London's financial district for what they called "Financial Fool's Day." The protests were called ahead of Thursday's summit of world leaders, who hope to take concrete steps to resolve the global financial crisis that has lashed nations and workers worldwide. Protesters marched through London demanding action on poverty, climate change and jobs.

Today's news from the G20 summit in London


The vast majority of activists were peaceful protesters but an element of self-described anarchists clashed with police and smashed windows. Sometimes civil disobedience is a necessary tactic, and sometimes it only hurts the cause.

Here is an anarchist take on G20:


Anonymous said...

Many conservative and libertarian Americans agree with the G20 protests against the financial establishment although they have little else in common with the protesters. While most of the London and European protesters are from the far left, many working Americans feel the same about Washington’s excessive bailouts for Wall Street and the banking establishment.

Washington has bailed out the banks, Wall Street & their Washington special interests and much of the cost is added to the national debt to by paid by this and future generations while real estate and investments continue to fall.

Find out how a growing repudiate the debt movement could stop Washington’s deficits, the exploding national debt and end the bailouts.

The Campaign to Cancel the Washington National Debt By 12/21/2012 Constitutional Amendment is starting now in the U.S.

Bob Rini said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Ron. I agree there is a wide range of protesters at the G20 summit, and people who stayed home who probably feel the same way. The media reduces things to sound bites, and I worry that they focus on an extreme minority who can easily be dismissed as extremists while ignoring more mainstream dissenters who might be able to hook into the average viewer. I've participated in giant anti-war demonstrations only to see disappointing news coverage after the event that somehow focuses on the one green-haired anarchist burning a flag. The entire event is simplified, reduced, and dismissed in an easy sweep of the camera. I don't think that fellow would be stopped from protesting in ways protected by the US Constitution, but I charge the media with lazy work. In the early days of the current war in Iraq, the news was terrible at showing both sides, and some major outlets (the Washington Post, the NY Times) admitted as much after the fact. Too little, too late. Instead of leading with violence ("If it bleeds, it leads") and alarmist headlines, and without handling complicated issues with a reductio as absurdem attitude, let's do it right. Report the damn news!