Police tear down protest tents in London's Trafalgar Square
Police tore down tents pitched by anti-capitalist protesters who had briefly set up camp in London's Trafalgar Square on Wednesday.
Activists moved into the historic square in an offshoot protest of the "Occupy" movement whose supporters have been camping outside St Paul's Cathedral in the capital for weeks.
They pitched around 25 tents during a march by thousands of students against cuts to university funding, but said their main aim was to express solidarity with a public sector strike against pension reforms on November 30.
However, policemen patrolling the student march soon moved in, hauling protesters out of the tents which officers then folded up.
"This is what democracy looks like," screamed one protester with a trickle of blood running down his forehead, as police led him away in handcuffs.
Another protester, Glyn Jukes, told AFP the demonstrators were allied to the "Occupy London Stock Exchange" movement, whose supporters have been camping outside St Paul's in London's financial district since mid-October.
Occupy LSX said on its Twitter feed: "We are now occupying Trafalgar Square! *victory dance*" and called on supporters to move in with tents and supplies.
"We've chosen this very public place at the centre of London to serve as a beacon for the general strike on the 30th to help communicate with people," Jukes said, referring to a planned major walkout over pension reforms.
They set up blue and green tents near the lion statues at the foot of Nelson's Column, which honours British admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated the French and Spanish navies at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Jukes insisted the encampment was not aimed at provoking the police, who have been on high alert after student protests last year erupted into violence, and after major riots on the streets of the capital in August.
"This is not a provocation, it's very symbolic. We are a peaceful organisation, what we seek to promote is a dialogue. I think it will give us a great opportunity," he said.
© 2011 AFP