Oil brokers trade blows with eco-warriors

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Greenpeace campaigners, not a group of people unaccustomed to flying in the face of danger, were forced into a tactical retreat yesterday after feeling the wrath of angry oil traders.

Greenpeace campaigners, not a group of people unaccustomed to flying in the face of danger, were forced into a tactical retreat yesterday after feeling the wrath of angry oil traders.

On the day the Kyoto Protocol came into force, 35 eco-warriors stormed the Interna- tional Petroleum Exchange [IPE] in the City. Armed with fog horns, rape alarms and whistles they tried to stall business by creating a deafening noise that made it impossible for the traders to work. But the campaigners, who took ear plugs to hand out to traders, appear to have underestimated the hostility from their intended victims.

One demonstrator described how "all hell broke loose" on the trading floor: "We were actually getting battered. We weren't fighting back, which makes it even worse." Greenpeace's executive director, Steven Tindale, said: "They kind of pinned us into the corner, there were a couple of dozen around us. We were non-violent and peaceful and we made it clear that's what we were there for but there were quite a few blows raining down on our heads.

"They pulled a metal bookcase down on our heads. They were trying to use that to push us back out so that was the moment we decided to retreat."

He said he was shocked. "They weren't interested in our message, they just laid into us. They wereswearing at us, it wasn't very subtle. Everyone who goes on a Greenpeace action is trained in non-violent direct action, so we know not to respond, although a few swear words may have come from ourselves."

At least one person was injured and taken to hospital by paramedics. Police arrested two dozen protesters for various public order offences and took them to local police stations, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

The IPE specialises in "open outcry" trading where business is carried out in audible surroundings. By making so much noise, the protesters hoped to sabotage all trading between 2pm and 7.30pm, but a spokeswoman for IPE said all trading had resumed by 3.15pm.

Greenpeace started a second protest, at the annual dinner of the Institute of Petroleum at the Grosvenor House hotel on London's Park Lane, and ruined table settings with red wine.

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