Violence flares in London as protesters overturn police van
Wednesday 01 December 1999
The much-anticipated trouble broke out at Euston station in central London, where a crowd began attacking police and destroying bus shelters. At one point, rioters overturned and set fire to an empty police van - to roars of approval from bystanders.
The violence, which began shortly after 6.30pm, came after a day during which protesters had supported campaigners protesting at the World Trade Organisation summit in Seattle in the United States, by marching through the streets of London and distributing leaflets condemning the WTO.
The well-publicised day of demonstration had started at 9.00am when just a handful gathered at Euston Station before starting a ramshackle march around the capital. However, by early evening the crowd had swollen to several hundred, overflowing the concourse of the station. The campaigners were initially happy to listen speeches and dance to drummers. But then a number began to incite others to violence. "Will you pledge to kill a pig," shouted one speaker.
The mood appeared to change and at around 6.30pm the crowd, now estimated by police to be 750-strong, moved out of the station and confronted a line of uniformed police who were trying to turn them back. It was at this point that demonstrators began attacking officers using placards and hurling cans.
Rapidly, police chiefs ordered in riot officers who arrived at the scene within seconds, equipped with shields, helmets and batons. A series of running fights with demonstrators ensued, as police attempted to move them back with charges.
Just how many of the original demonstrators where involved in the violence was unclear, but there seemed to be a hardcore of no more than 100 who were bolstered and cheered by hundreds of onlookers.
Having confronted the rioters, police withdrew and surrounded the demonstrators who congregated beneath buildings outside the station. Then an empty police van was overturned. Its windows were smashed and attempts made to set it alight using burning placards. Onlookers chanted "Burn it, burn it" and cheered as one man carrying a flaming sign eventually managed to ignite the van, which exploded.
Riot police encircled the rioters, hemming them in to a small area in front of the station where "snatch squads" of officers grabbed people they had identified in the crowd. As the evening wore, on people were only allowed to leave the cordon after they had been searched and photographed. Scotland Yard said 15 people were arrested for public-order offences while seven people were hurt, including one police officer who suffered head and neck injuries.
There had long been fears that yesterday's planned demonstration would end in violence, repeating the summer's incidents in the City which erupted into mayhem and caused millions of pounds worth of damage.
As a result, many City institutions had organised special security measures. News International, publishers of The Times and The Sun newspapers, had sealed off their Wapping headquarters and hired 420 extra security guards against possible attack.
The policing of yesterday's demonstrations was the first time a new joint operation involving three forces was put into action. Set up in the aftermath of June's riots, Operation Benbow was co-ordinated by a 50-strong team of officers based at police headquarters where officers from the Metropolitan Police, the City of London Police, and British Transport Police, followed events on video monitors.
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 Sussex couple die in suspected Christmas Day 'suicide pact'
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...