Following the killing of 4 UK soldiers in one day, Stop the War called a demonstration opposite Downing Street on Friday. They were joined by the Democracy Village who staged a sit down on Whitehall. London, UK. 16/07/2010
Following the killing of 4 UK soldiers in one day, Stop the War called a demonstration opposite Downing St on Friday. They were joined by the Democracy Village who staged a sit down on Whitehall. London, UK. 16/07/2010
Opinion polls show that only a small minority - less than one fifth in one recent poll - of the UK public now support the continuing engagement of UK forces in Afghanistan. Earlier in the week the news that three had been killed by one of the Afghan army they had been training shocked us all, and led Stop The War to call a demonstration at short notice to call for an end to the killing and bring the troops home.
There were perhaps around a hundred Stop the War demonstrators chanting vociferously opposite Downing Street watched by a few rather bored looking police when around twenty Democracy campers from Parliament Square came marching down with their long banner "Soldiers Come Home Alive'" and began to protest on the pavement outside Downing St.
After a short address by Chris Knight, Dean Puckett took the megaphone and called for the Stop The War demonstrators to leave the permitted area for demonstrations on the opposite side of the road and join their protest outside Downing St.
After a while two of the demonstrators came across the road, and then others followed them. But one of the Democracy Camp decided on more radical action, walking out with a peace flag and sitting down in the middle of the south-bound roadway. Police quickly moved in to try and persuade him to get up, but by then the others were moving in to join him.
The rush hour traffic was brought to a standstill at around 17.45pm for around 15 minutes before the protesters decided to move off. Police then threatened them with arrest unless they kept to the pavement, which seemed rather pointless as they were only walking for a couple of hundred yards before stopping traffic again as they crossed Parliament St and made their way back to Parliament Square.
Just after they arrived back at Parliament Square we heard the siren as a police van full of Territorial Support Officers screamed up towards Downing St to deal with those protesters who had already left.
Earlier in the day the Democracy campers had lost their court case to stay in Parliament Square. They were refused leave to appeal to the supreme court, although the case may well go to the European Court, where they would appear to have a very good chance of success. In the meantime the court order that they must leave the square is likely to be enforced, most probably in the early hours of Monday morning.
Although the court decision should not affect Brian Haw and his Parliament Square Peace Campaign, there since June 2001, it seems quite likely that police will use the occasion to further harass Mr Haw and his fellow demonstrators, as happened recently on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament.
The few recent showers have greatly improved the state of the grass in Parliament Square, which now looks fairly green again. It has never been in good condition in the past five years or so, and will certainly soon recover to its previous state in a month or two if left untouched, assuming we get a decent amount of rain. However it looks from the comments in the press as if the Mayor will insist on dishing out a very lucrative contract to a gardening firm just to try and make a point over the occupation of the square. It will of course be a total waste of Londoner's council tax.