- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2009

LONDON (AP) - Here’s some advice for next week’s G20 summit. To Londoners: Be patient. To bankers: Dress down.

Police say the April 2 meeting of the world’s major economies will be an unprecedented challenge, as London plays host to President Barack Obama and a score of world leaders, as well as thousands of protesters determined to focus attention on the victims _ and culprits _ of the global recession.

Police say intense security measures will shut roads and subway stations, and the London Chamber of Commerce has issued advice to finance-sector workers that includes the suggestion staff “consider wearing more casual clothing” to avoid demonstrators’ ire.

“Canceling unnecessary meetings may have to be considered,” the chamber said in a statement.

The group estimated disruption from summit-related protests could cost London 5 million pounds ($7.3 million) a day, and a senior police officer said protesters were intent on shutting down London’s financial core, the City.

“That is the aspiration, to get in and clog up these City institutions as best they can,” Commander Bob Broadhurst, who is in charge of the policing operation, told reporters last week.

Protesters on Monday accused police of exaggerating the potential for violence.

“They are using a few Web sites to create the impression there’s going to be mass disorder so they can deploy thousands of riot police,” said Andrew Burgin of the Stop the War Coalition, which plans to protest outside the U.S. Embassy on April 1.

Police fear scenes like those seen at May Day anti-globalization protests in 2000 and 2001, when small groups of anarchists broke away from peaceful marches, smashing shop windows and daubing graffiti on war memorials.

Class War, a small anarchist group that has been taunting Britain’s elites since the 1980s, is encouraging supporters on its Web site to “burn a banker.”

More typical of the majority of protesters, if past summits are any indication, will be peaceful, photogenic spectacles. A group called G20 Meltdown says demonstrators will converge from four London subway stations on the imposing edifice of the central bank, the Bank of England, led by multicolored figures representing four horsemen of the economic apocalypse _ war, climate chaos, financial crimes and “land enclosures and borders.”

Other planned actions include a “Put People First” march through central London on Saturday, an environmental “climate camp” and a march to the convention center in London’s Docklands where leaders of the world’s biggest economies are meeting.

Broadhurst said the protests were driven by “a coming together of anarchists, anti-globalization groups and environmentalists.” He said Internet social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter made it easier for protesters to organize and change their plans at short notice.

London police said there would be 1,000 officers at each of the major protests. The force expects to spend 7 million pounds ($10 million) policing a week that also includes two major international soccer matches, the Oxford-Cambridge boat race on the River Thames and a pomp-filled state visit by Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Police say there will be road closures and other transport disruptions, as a result of both the protesters and the visiting dignitaries. A spokeswoman acknowledged it would inconvenience many Londoners, “but we’re saying to people, it’s one day out of your lives.”

“You can’t have dignitaries from all around the world and not expect some security,” she said on condition of anonymity in line with force policy.

On Monday, an influential group of lawmakers accused police of increasingly using heavy-handed tactics against protesters, including anti-terrorism legislation and the “intrusive” filming of demonstrators.

“The right to protest is a fundamental democratic right and one that the state and police have a duty to protect and facilitate,” said Andrew Dismore, chairman of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights.



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