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Financial Times' coverage of J18 in London, and related

From: FT


LONDON: Anarchists attempt to paralyse the City 10,000 activists are due to join a protest in London against capitalism

writes Sathnam Sanghera

The Association of Autonomous Astronauts, whose members are dedicated to building spaceships and reclaiming space for the people, will today join hundreds of other radical groups in the City of London to demand an end to "profit-chasing, environment- destroying" capitalism.

An AAA member, dressed as an astronaut, will target a company with space industry interests and present its director with a petition calling for an end to the military-industrial monopoly of space travel.

The stunt will be one of many co-ordinated by J18 (June 18), a vaguely "anarchist" umbrella body, in a day of action timed to coincide with the Cologne summit of the Group of Seven industrialised nations.

J18 has planned protests in more than 40 countries and business capitals around the world.

Although the little-known movement operates in small cells of perhaps a dozen members, in London alone it is expected to bring 10,000 activists on to the streets.

Each of the J18 protest groups has its own demands, but the one thing that unites them all is their hatred of corporations and financial institutions, which are accused of destroying the environment and forcing millions into poverty.

They aim to bring the City to a halt and to show that the "global capitalist system is at the root of our social and ecological troubles".

An AAA member dressed in an astronaut suit will target a company with interests in space, and present its director with a petition.

"We are quite serious," says an AAA activist. "For us, the militarisation of space is a metaphor for how the world's population has been disenfranchised."

Like most of the activities, the location and time of the AAA stunt have been kept secret. But some J18 events have been publicised. They include a "carnival against capital" outside Liverpool Street station at midday, a human chain around the Treasury, a picket of a branch of McDonald's and a protest against UCI cinemas in Leicester Square.

City institutions fear disruption will spread beyond scheduled protests. Subscribers to the J18 e-mail discussion list have been proposing actions such as preventing chief executives from getting to work, sabotaging ATM machines, throwing custard pies at bankers, burning share certificates and effigies of Bill Gates and faxing long messages to directors.

Activists have been urged by J18 to target the corporate computer systems of Nike, Gap and Microsoft. The Computer Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police and the British Bankers Association have discussed the threat of hackers targeting banks and other financial institutions.

Some activists are planning to disguise themselves as City workers in an attempt to slip into offices and superglue locks, chain doors, rearrange filing systems and stage sit-ins. There have been reports of a surge in suit sales at Oxfam outlets.

While the protesters dress up, leaked internal memos indicate many City workers have been urged to dress down for the day to avoid being targeted. The Corporation of London warned businesses and householders as long ago as February.

Although protesters are not expecting violence, there are fears that police action may provoke them. A similar Stop the City campaign 15 years ago, organised by Reclaim the Streets, resulted in windows being smashed and attempts to invade dealing rooms.

A Sheffield activist, who was travelling to London this morning, said: "During one of the protests we will be trying to create a space in the city which we will have control over. The police often get stressed in these sort of situations because they feel impotent. I hope there's no violence.

"I don't see us bringing down global capitalism this week. But I think the action will be an important stage in the process," he added.

From: FT


Anti-capitalists lay siege to City of London

By Sathnam Sanghera, Michael Peel and Jimmy Burns

The City of London came under siege yesterday as thousands of anti-capitalism protesters took to the streets in a day of demonstrations which turned violent.

Police were attacked with bricks and metal pipes by groups of activists, and protesters forced the evacuation of the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange.

The protests were orchestrated by a little-known umbrella movement called J18, for June 18, which timed them to coincide with the Group of Eight economic summit in Cologne.

Separate J18 groups, including environmentalists Reclaim the Streets and London Greenpeace, said they were united in their hatred of capitalism, which they claim is destroying the environment and forcing millions into poverty.

By 3pm up to 4,000 demonstrators had converged near Liverpool Street railway station for a "Carnival against Capital" where police were attacked with bricks and concrete blocks.

Police said protesters then split into four groups. A number of officers were believed to have been injured in clashes with some of them. "Missiles were thrown at police and police vehicles were damaged," a spokesman said. A woman had hospital treatment after she reportedly fell off a police van.

The London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange had to let riot police intervene after protesters entered its headquarters and flooded the premises by tampering with a fire hydrant. The exchange had to abandon its after-hours trading system and 400 staff were told to leave the building. Trading is set to resume on Monday.

"There were a couple of smoke bombs that set the fire alarms off and then they tried to come further up the escalators to the main building," Liffe said. "They have done a fair bit of damage downstairs."

For two hours a group of around 300 demonstrators were blocked by police on Southwark Bridge 200 yards from the Financial Times' entrance. A Mercedes car dealership on the north end of the bridge had its windows smashed, and several of the cars were vandalised.

Activists daubed pink paint on the main door of the London Metal Exchange, the world's largest non- ferrous metals market.

Demonstrators campaigning against the international arms trade entered Lloyds TSB Bank in Cheapside and chained themselves inside.

The bank said about 10 demonstrators had spent just over three hours in the building before leaving of their own accord.

"It's obviously disruptive to both customers and staff," said Lloyds TSB. "I think any customers who tried to get into that branch would have turned round to go to another one."

Lord Mayor Peter Levene, who followed the protesters, said he had been appalled by their actions. "It started off in a very good natured way, but it descended into alcohol-fuelled gratuitous violence," he said. "I think the public will have lost any sympathy they may have had for the protesters." The protests forced many offices to add extra security, stationing guards in the street and advising employees to dress casually to avoid becoming a target.

Five Tube stations were closed. Massive traffic disruption compounded commuters' misery.

From: FT


PROTEST: City Carnival turns to near-riot

By Michael Peel and Sathnam Sanghera

A young man dressed as a fly stood silently near London's Southwark Bridge amid broken glass, beer bottles and burnt copies of London Evening Standard supplements.

The contrast between his appearance and his surroundings illustrated how the event billed as the "Carnival against Capital" had turned into a much less savoury occasion.

It left a bitter taste for many after the good-natured start to the event, which was organised by protest groups attempting to disrupt business as part of a global campaign targeting more than 40 countries. As Lord Levene, Lord Mayor of London, said: "The day just got worse and worse."

Earlier in the day, the demonstrators seemed to be laying most emphasis on having a good time. At Liverpool Street station in the north of the City, bankers and management consultants watched from the upper concourse as demonstrators banged out drum rhythms on the level below.

Most protesters indulged in nothing more threatening than banter. City workers mingled with the activists, who jokingly asked bankers and share traders to phone in sick and join them in their carnival later in the day.

By mid-afternoon, the mood had changed markedly as stones, bottles and other missiles were thrown at City police at London Wall.

A City police spokesman said: "They [the police] were reversing slowly out of the crowd and it is thought that a female demonstrator climbed on the back of one of the vans and then fell off and went under the vehicle."

By 6pm, the streets around the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange resembled a riot zone. A car showroom had had several of its windows put out, and people had daubed the intact panes with anarchy symbols and anti-police slogans.

Many demonstrators said the trouble was caused by a minority, with drink a contributary factor. A number of protesters criticised the police for making the situation worse through over-aggressive behaviour.

The police gradually pushed the crowd back, with some officers using their batons and shields. Some protesters threw debris, or fake banknotes like those tossed earlier through the doors of City institutions.

By 6.30pm, the protesters had been trapped by police on either side of Southwark Bridge. For many, a day that had started as a fine summer outing had turned irredeemably sour. "First it was a good party and then some drunken idiots started rioting," said Andre, who had come over from Switzerland for the event.

From: FT


EVE GROUP: City protest is no barrier to growth

By Thorold Barker

The busiest time of year for Eve Group's crowd barriers business kicked off yesterday with the engineering and services group supplying 400 barriers to control protesters demonstrating in the City of London.

As the Square Mile braced itself for an influx of protesters, Chris Wigg, Eve's finance director, followed the example of numerous City workers and headed for morning analysts' meetings in a polo shirt and jeans to avoid being identified as a capitalist by demonstrators

Commenting on trading, he said: "There was a honeymoon period after the last election [with hardly any demonstrations]. We are now entering a phase when there might be more action." The Metropolitan Police account for half the usage of Eve's 18,000 barriers.

The company made about half its £3.78m (£3.03m) pre-tax profits for the year to March 31 from Eve Trakway, the division that hires barriers and portable roadways.

Alan Robertson, chief executive, said the next month - with the Royal wedding, Wimbledon and the Glastonbury festival - would be Eve Trakway's busiest period of the year.

However, events in the City were not all to the group's advantage. Its shares fell 37½p to 285p on news of "slower than expected" trading in the first quarter.

The group also helps maintain cellular phone networks, and won a contract with Cellnet last year. With its Vodafone, Orange and One-2-One contracts, it now maintains more than 7,000 sites in the UK.

Turnover fell to £85.7m (£87.1m) because of the sale of its construction division last July. The final dividend of 5.33p makes a total of 8p (7p), payable from earnings per share of 24.2p (19.5p).

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