Battle of Seattle rioters 'may join May Day protest'

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The Independent Online

A four-day protest against global capitalism was beginning in London today as police prepared for the possibility of rioting on the capital's streets.

A four-day protest against global capitalism was beginning in London today as police prepared for the possibility of rioting on the capital's streets.

Numerous organised and unofficial events were expected to take place today and over the Bank Holiday weekend culminating in what is expected to be a mass demonstration on May 1.

And anti-capitalist protesters from the riots in Seattle and Washington are planning to take part in the demonstrations, Scotland Yard has warned.

Nearly 15,000 officers will be on duty in the capital to police the protests during the three-day bank holiday demonstrations in one of the biggest operations of its kind.

The Metropolitan Police said yesterday that they believed a hard core of 200 to 300 "troublemakers" would attempt to cause disruption. "There's some good evidence to say that people from Seattle and Washington will be in London," a senior police source said.

The police are expecting between 5,000 and 10,000 protesters to take part in the London rally organised by a variety of anti-capitalist groups, including Reclaim the Streets.

In response, the Met has drafted in an extra 5,500 officers, who will join the 9,000 on normal duties. Detailed plans to deal with disruption have been drawn up by the Met, the City of London Police and British Transport Police.

The most likely flashpoint is expected to be on Monday when protesters gather outside the House of Commons. As part of the Guerrilla Gardening Action, demonstrators have been told to take plants, spades and soil. They are expected to try to build "urban gardens", which could result in activists attempting to dig up the green outside the Commons.

Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said yesterday: "I support the right for lawful demonstrations, but I will not tolerate unlawful demonstrations." A senior police source added that it was "one of the biggest operations we have run for a very long time" and predicted there would be people "hell- bent on trouble and disorder". He estimated there were "200 to 300 hardcore [protesters] who will be bent on creating problems for everybody".

Commenting on the way the protesters had used the internet and mobile phones to organise the rally, he said: "They are not far away from the way terrorists work in cells."

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