Police put on alert for bank holiday anti-capitalist rally

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The Independent Online

London's police have arranged the biggest combined security operation in the city's history to deal with an anti-capitalist demonstration on 1 May that 10,000 demonstrators are expected to take part in.

The authorities are concerned about a possible repeat of the riots which caused widespread damage and disruption in the City last June. A spokesmen for the Metropolitan Police said: "We will not allow a minority of people ... to place the public at risk of injury. We will also be working with the business community to ensure that anyone intent on causing damage to property will be dealt with swiftly."

The anti-capitalist group Reclaim the Streets said yesterday that they would use "Guerrilla Gardening" tactics - including digging up the streets with pickaxes or pneumatic drills - during the demonstrations.

The "Carnival against Capitalism" follows the Stop the City demonstration on 18 June last year which descended into rioting and resulted in 103 arrests and £2m-worth of damage. City Police took a lead role in controlling the demonstrators but Anthony Speed, retired assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said in a report that the City force did not have the capacity to deal with the riot once disorder began. This year the operation is split between the Met, City, and British Transport Police forces.

A Reclaim the Streets member, who denied reports that the demonstration would involve turning Parliament Square into a giant vegetable plot, said: "We won't necessarily be digging into soil. Ever heard of pick axes? In 1996 on the M41 we had people with pneumatic drills under giant carnival skirts, planting trees in the motorway."

The group's website boasts "May Day 2000 will blow the roof off the Millennium Dome". The Reclaim the Streets member, who refused to give his name for fear of attracting the attention of the police said: "There is a site that has been earmarked. Everyone knows [the Dome] is a trade fair for global capitalism. It's not a people's celebration at all.

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