Brighton braced for protesters

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Indy Politics

The Labour Party conference in Brighton could be overshadowed by a massive anti-globalisation demonstration later today. Police were last night issued with pepper spray to control demonstrators amid fears that 8,000 protesters – some of whom were involved in the riots in Genoa, Italy – planned to descend on the town.

Sussex police confirmed that the march would be going past the conference centre where Tony Blair is holding his "unity conference". But they made it clear that, in the event of trouble, the route would be moved away from the venue.

The riots in Genoa ended in chaos when one protester was killed in a skirmish with police. This will be the first time that Sussex police have been issued with pepper spray. All officers will be wearing protective headgear from the start of the march.

Police from five different forces have been drafted to contain the protesters. It is thought that among the protesters there will also be some of the anarchists who took part in riots in the Italian city. It is thought they plan to converge on Brighton, where Labour is holding its conference largely overshadowed by the response to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September.

The conference is already being held amid unprecedented levels of security. Shopkeepers have been warned to take extra precautions, and police are even worried that protesters will use the stones on Brighton beach as missiles. "There is a real arsenal down there," said Superintendent John Dransfield. "We will deal robustly with anyone who intends to disrupt the life of either the people of Brighton or to interfere with the smooth running of the conference."

Meanwhile, in Washington, anti-war protesters took to the streets. The march began peacefully, but police used pepper spray to control protesters. The Anti-Capitalist Convergence, an anarchist group, rallied hundreds near Capitol Hill to march to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank headquarters.

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