Letter: Riot police

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Sir: It took several minutes for about 10 protesters, during Tuesday's London demonstration against the World Trade Organisation meeting, to rock a police van on to its side and set it on fire. While this happened, police looked on, filming and taking photographs and notes. They did nothing to stop it.

Instead they chose to surround everyone in the area outside Euston Station with a line of policemen in riot gear, often two or three deep. They moved in by charging at us in lines. By 7.30pm hundreds of people were penned into a small area. The police charged us from both sides at once, using truncheons and shields.

For two hours, the police terrified us, charging forward about every 15 minutes, rarely provoked. I saw nothing thrown in this time, and heard little taunting - but a lot of pleading, and sometimes chanting, to be set free.

It took another hour, with some morale-boosting guitar-playing and singing, to be quietly and peacefully let out. I was told I was required to give my name, address and date and place of birth. I did absolutely nothing wrong that day, and neither did the vast majority of those imprisoned for three hours by riot police. We were not a "masked mob"; we were virtually all peaceful protesters who were trapped and terrified like animals.

It appals me that the police have the power to behave like this. At one point, a riot policeman said to me: "Maybe this will stop you coming back next time." Of course I will come back next time, and I will, again, protest legally and peacefully against the current path of capitalism and globalisation. The police are trying to radicalise a perfectly reasonable point of view.


London N5