Monday, March 28, 2011

On Friday afternoon, we peacefully walked through Trafalgar Square in London and enjoyed the cool spring weather. We watched children climbing on the iconic lion sculptures. People were laughing and relaxing.
A view of Trafalgar Square in London on Friday, March 25.

On Saturday evening, violent protesters mobbed the tranquil square and other parts of the city, smashing windows in their path, writing graffiti on buildings and even spray painting the bronze lions and platform of the statue. See news images of the London protest here.
At a police precinct near our hotel in St. James Park, hundreds of police officers prepared for the
protest on Saturday morning.

Just yesterday morning, we watched the news reports from our London hotel room and saw the appalling damage that had been done across the city. According to the reports, paint, fireworks and flares were thrown at buildings, while the outnumbered police even were attacked with large pieces of wood. One of the photos depicted a policeman that had paint thrown in his face.

It’s hard to believe that we were literally blocks away when some of the damage occurred near Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square on Saturday afternoon. I was buying a shirt outside of a store when the salesman said he was closing the store in fear of the nearby protesters. A few blocks further, we saw some of the grafitti that said “fight sexism” and a smashed window. The streets were littered with trash and splotches of paint.

Earlier in the day, more than 250,000 protesters, organized by the Trade Union Congress, peacefully had marched throughout the city vocalizing against public spending costs. We could see the long line of protesters along the Thames River from our vantage point in the London Eye.

Here, you can see the protesters lined up in the streets near the Thames.

The crowd of 300+ people that broke off from the majority were anarchists and anti-capitalist protesters. Police have arrested more than 200 of these protesters that wrecked havoc throughout the city.

As an American and a writer, I fully support  freedom of speech, but this protest obviously got way out of hand by a small minority. The images I saw of the people’s behavior disgusted and angered me.

It makes me wonder:
Why do people feel the need to destroy public property, especially a historical monument, like this?

Why vandalize and destroy people’s businesses? If you’re angry at the government, why take it out on inanimate objects?

Also, most of the vandals covered their faces with black ski masks or painted faces. Have the courage to show your faces so the world can see you. It’s appalling! Shame on you!

Violence and vandalism is not the right way to make your point!

It just seems so senseless and idiotic to me that people act this way. It’s like a five-year-old child throwing a temper tantrum because he/she didn’t get their way and now feels the need to act out.

I  hope these criminals get a hefty fine or at least some jail time. I don’t know what the protocols are in London, but I hope a swift punishment is carried out.

At least the protest did not disrupt most of our trip in London. We had a great time! I’ll be posting more stories and photos throughout the week.



Julia said...

Glad you still managed to enjoy your time in London, Joy. What really angers me is that freedom of speech and the right to protest (sensibly!) is taken very seriously in Britain and there are always problems caused by minorities. There are people protesting all over the world at the moment for the liberties we have in the UK. You're right. Shame on the people who destroyed parts of London and behaved like this. It's very common unfortunately.

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