Eviction starts of British parliament protest camp: police
Law enforcement officers moved in Tuesday to evict peace protesters who have been camped in front of the British parliament for almost three months, after a court ruled last week they cannot stay there.
The officers descended on the makeshift camp in London known as Democracy Village, where the demonstrators put up their tents on May 1, said police, who were providing support for the operation.
But a standoff was developing, as some of the protesters climbed up scaffolding in an attempt to stop the officers ejecting them from the site.
The activists, who are protesting against the war in Afghanistan and a range of other issues, lost an appeal against eviction on Friday in a battle with the city's mayor who is demanding they quit the site.
The green space had been transformed by the erection of dozens of tents adorned with flags and protest banners, but critics complained the area had been vandalised.
"Officers from the Metropolitan Police Service are in attendance within the Parliament Square area," said a police spokesman.
"They are there in a supporting role to High Court enforcement officers who are currently carrying out an operation to evict those residing on the grassed area of the square."
Protesters described how about 60 people turned up to try and evict them from the square and put a fence up around the area.
But some of their number were resisting attempts to move them.
"We are on some scaffolding and we want to stay here as long as possible. We want to be here for the rush hour ideally," said one of the protesters, Maria Gallastegui. "Obviously we will resist but we will be non-violent."
One protester hand chained himself to the scaffolding and another was on top of a lorry containing fencing which was meant to be put around the square, she said.
The High Court in London granted eviction orders last month sought by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, but their enforcement was delayed pending the outcome of the appeal.
In the appeal ruling Friday, Judge David Neuberger said that although the land was owned by Queen Elizabeth II, the mayor of London had been given power to act over the square.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said the protest had caused "considerable damage to the site and had prevented its use by others, including lawful protesters".
"The square will now be closed temporarily, during which time the site will be restored for the use of Londoners, visitors to the capital and responsible protesters," she said.
© 2010 AFP