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by Eric Hammer | FTMDaily Contributing Writer
TEL AVIV, Mar 28 – A largely peaceful demonstration which featured hundreds of thousands of people marching through Central London to protest planned cuts in the welfare state turned violent Saturday evening. While the mass rally passed peacefully if noisily through London, a small group of a few hundred protestors showed up later determined to do more to show their distaste for British policy than simply give speeches.
The main rally had been organized by a number of large labor unions with the intention of protesting the massive cuts that Prime Minister David Cameron has pushed through Parliament recently. Mr. Cameron had justified those cuts by explaining that Britain could no longer afford the so called welfare state. The cuts affected tens of thousands of working class Britons, sending many of them scurrying to the unemployment rolls and prompting a massive outcry on a scale similar to the protests that engulfed Madison, Wisconsin a few weeks ago.
The protestors also seemed to feel, as many Tea Party activists in the United States do, albeit from a completely different perspective, that their leaders did not go far enough in pressing their demands. Labor leader Ed Miliband was heckled by a number of protestors when he allowed during a speech to the main rally that “some cuts” were needed but that they still needed to “struggle to fight to preserve, protect and defend the best of the services we cherish.”
Interestingly, a number of the rioters seemed especially incensed by the recent deployment of British airmen to Libya to help in enforcing the now NATO led no-fly zone in that country. The feeling seemed to be that at a time when Britain couldn’t afford to keep her own people fed, they had no business getting involved in wars in other countries.
After the largely peaceful rally started to wind down, a group of what most mainstream labor organizers are describing as “hoodlums” came onto the scene, most of them masked and all determined to do as much damage as they could. They attacked the Ritz hotel and an upscale department store in an effort to strike at the rich.
According to local police reports, some 211 people were arrested in the melee that ensued after the main rally dispersed. They were charged with crimes ranging from vandalism and destruction of public property to setting off firecrackers in the middle of the street.
Speaking to reporters after the riots had been put down, Commander Bob Broadhurst of Scotland Yard, which had been in charge of security at the rally praised the protest organizers for having kept things largely peaceful throughout the event.
Regarding the rioters, he told the Guardian newspaper that, “Unfortunately we’ve had in the region of 500-plus criminals – people hiding under the pretence of the TUC march – who have caused considerable damage, attacked police officers, attacked police vehicles and scared the general public. Unfortunately, because of their mobility and the fact they are aware of some of our tactics, we have been unable to contain them and so we have had these groups wandering around the central London area.”
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