LONDON – Tens of thousands of people marched across central London
Saturday to demand jobs, economic justice and environmental
accountability, kicking off six days of protest and action planned in
the run-up to the G20 summit next week.
More than 150 groups
threw their backing behind the "Put People First" march. Police said
around 35,000 attended the demonstration, but there were large gaps in
the line of protesters snaking its way across the city toward Speaker's
Corner in Hyde Park.
The marchers are pushing for a more transparent and democratic economic recovery plan.
"The whole economic meltdown ... There's a really good opportunity for
governments to get together and invest in a sustainable future," said
unemployed Steve Burson, 49, marching with the protesters.
biggest groups backing the demonstration include the Stop The War
Coalition, whose supporters marched under the slogan "Jobs Not Bombs,"
Friends of the Earth, and the Trades Union Congress, an umbrella group
of British trade unions, which is calling for Britain's crisis-hit
manufacturing base to share in country's banking bailout.
should be solving (the crisis) in the interest of working people," said
Andy Bain, the president of Transport Salaried Staffs' Association.
"All the money is going to the rich.''
Protesters whistled and
booed British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's 10 Downing Street office –
with one shouting: "Enjoy the overtime!" as they filed past.
Security was tight around a small group of people waving anarchist
flags Saturday. Anarchists and others have promised violence before the
G20 meeting Thursday, and the British capital is bracing for a massive
police operation as representatives of the world's 20 leading economies
fly in for a summit on the financial crisis. More protests are planned
Wednesday and Thursday, while left-leaning teach-ins, lectures, and
other demonstrations are scheduled throughout the week.
Other demonstrations aimed at the G20 summit took place in Europe on Saturday.
Berlin police estimated that around 10,000 people gathered in front of
the capital's city hall and more than 1,000 in Frankfurt, Germany's
banking capital, for similar demonstrations under the slogan: "We won't
pay for your crisis.''
Some demonstrators in Berlin sported
headbands reading "pay for it yourselves" and carried placards
demanding: "make capitalism history.''