Police expect wild May Day weekend protests in London
Similar protests last year
LONDON (AFP) - - Guerrilla gardening, anti-capitalist protests in London's financial district and a bicycle rally to combat auto pollution are among the events expected to vex London police during the May Day weekend.
Anarchists, environmental activist and anti-globalization demonstrators started to gather Friday in London after widespread calls for protests were sent out by various groups via the Internet.
"All leave has been cancelled for London police officers over the weekend, including mine," said a harried spokeswoman from Scotland Yard.
Police sources refused to divulge the number of officers that would be deployed in London's streets over the weekend, but the British press speculated that it would be one of the biggest mobilizations of the 20,000-strong force.
Some 10,000 demonstrators are expected Monday to fill the City, London's financial district and to protestors, symbol of the capitalist success that they bitterly resent.
Scotland Yard hopes to avert a scene similar to one caused last June by anarchist demonstrators protesting the "exploitation of the Third World" in the City, which left 44 injured, 101 arrested and the City with millions in damages.
"We will not allow a minority of people, who may wish to use these events for their own aims and objectives, to place the public at risk of injury," said London deputy police commissioner Michael Todd.
Reclaim the Streets, an extremist ecological movement, has called upon supporters to participate in "guerrilla gardening" to protect the "destruction of the planet".
Armed with pickaxes, spades and rakes, supporters plan to plant impromptu wild gardens throughout the center of London, notably in Parliament Square, in front of the Houses of Parliament.
"I think Monday will be a glorious day," a group organizer told the British daily The Independent.
One group promised "a gathering of revolutionaries" that would "blow the roof off the Millennium Dome", a giant conference and expo center whose builders have been under fire for its inordinate cost.
Smaller events scheduled for the weekend include an anarchist parade, an independent soccer tournament, an anti-pollution cycling rally, seminars on the disadvantages of globalization and the distribution of vegetarian sandwiches in front of McDonald's resturants in London.