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London march against spending cuts marred by violence

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Violence that continued late into last night has overshadowed yesterday’s massive anti-government cuts demonstrations in central London.

While between 400,000 and 500,000 people marched peacefully in the capital, in areas of the West End hundreds of activists clashed with police.

Riot police fought protesters at high profile landmarks including the Ritz hotel, Fortnum and Mason and in Trafalgar Square.

Missiles were thrown, graffiti was daubed on walls and some attempted to damage the square’s London 2012 Olympic clock.

On Oxford Street and Regent Street the anarchists stopped traffic, smashed windows and threw paint and fireworks.

Branches of the HSBC and Santander banks were also targeted.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Officers have come under sustained attack as they deal with the disorder and attempted criminal damage.”

However, the day’s earlier march was hailed a “fantastic success” by trade unions as nurses, teachers, students, firefighters, pensioners and thousands of others walked through the city.

Union officials and Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned the “brutal” cuts in jobs and services.

The demonstration was the biggest since the anti-Iraq war march eight years ago.

But many of those walking were unaware of the violence erupting in other parts of London.

A total of 214 people have been arrested so far and there were 84 reported injuries during the day, including 31 police officers.

Commander Bob Broadhurst, who led the police operation, told Sky News: “I wouldn’t even call them protesters, they’re criminals.

“They’ve run up and down parts of central London smashing up buildings and then running off as officers try to confront them.”

Campaign group UK Uncut claimed around 200 of its supporters forced themselves into luxury store Fortnum and Mason – known as the Queen’s grocer.

A spokesman for the demonstrators said the target was chosen because “they dodge tens of millions in tax”.

Video and photographic evidence will be used in the coming days to identify anyone else involved in the trouble.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said he “bitterly regretted” the violence, adding that he hoped it would not detract from the protest.
Source: Sky News

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