Massive May Day protests, violence

Chris Doss itschris13 at SPAMhotmail.com
Mon May 1 15:01:07 MDT 2000


Peaceful May Day protests turn violent

LONDON-- Colorful protesters
peacefully engaged in a little "guerrilla
gardening" outside Britain's
Parliament building on Monday, but
London's streets later erupted into
May Day violence as masked activists
trashed a fast-food restaurant and
clashed with riot-geared police.

Violence marred other May Day
commemorations around the world,
including Hamburg, Germany, where
12 police officers and 25 protesters
were injured when leftists and police
clashed just after midnight.

London's demonstration began quietly
near Parliament, where protesters in
colorful costumes planted seeds to
add more green to Parliament Square.
But a group broke away from the
protest and trashed a Whitehall
McDonald's restaurant, smashing all
the windows and tearing down the
golden arches sign.

Police pressed the demonstrators -- who pelted them with rocks, bricks,
bottles and anything else that could be thrown -- toward Trafalgar Square,
where the demonstration cooled.

Assistant Police Commissioner Mike Todd, who called the attackers
"mindless thugs," said one officer was badly injured by a brick in the face
and seven people were arrested.

"It does prove there are a small minority of people intent on violence," he
said. "This is not protest. This is criminality, and these people need to be
held to account."

         German police prepared for violence

In Hamburg, police said more than
100 people were arrested.
The protesters threw rocks at banks,
broke shop windows and set fire to
cars in the center of the city before
police charged into the crowd, using
water cannon and armored vehicles to
clear the area. One officer suffered a
broken arm in the melee.

Berlin was also the scene of clashes
when police intervened to break up
fights between neo-Nazi marchers and
anti-fascist counterdemonstrators in
the east Berlin district of Hellersdorf.

About 300 neo-Nazis, many of them skinheads, carried anti-immigrant
banners to the Hellersdorf rally, where they listened to right-wing speeches
and music.

Worried about violence, which has become a mainstay of May Day
celebrations in recent years, Berlin police massed 2,500 officers to watch
over the situation. Hundreds more officers were posted across the rest of
the city.

                              Injuries in Philippines
Police also employed water cannon in the Philippines, where demonstrators
threw rocks while trying to break through police lines keeping them from
Malacanang presidential palace in Manila.

                              Labor groups claim President Joseph
                              Estrada has sided with employers in
                              labor disputes, despite campaign
                              promises to back labor's struggle
                              against poverty.

                              Several protesters and one firefighter
                              were injured, and seven members of a
                              labor group were arrested.

                              Violence also erupted in South Korea,
                              where police tried to keep students
                              from joining a worker rally in Seoul.

                              Some 7,000 police officers kept watch
                              over a worker march in Colombo, Sri
                              Lanka, where Tamil Tiger rebels have
                              waged a bloody battle for an independent
homeland. A rebel assassinated then-President Ranasinghe Premadasa at a May
Day rally in 1993.

Poland's Baltic port Gdansk -- birthplace of Poland's modern labor
movement-- also saw police move in to quell violence. According to private
Radio Zet, riot police stopped dozens of skinheads who were pelting leftist
marchers with eggs filled with red paint.

               Less violence elsewhere

                              Elsewhere, May Day gatherings were
                              more peaceful. Pope John Paul II, a
                              laborer in World War II Poland, warned
                              that basic human rights must be
                              protected as economic and trade
                              policies are globalized.

                              "New realities which are forcefully
                              affecting the productive process, such
                              as globalization of finance, of the
                              economy, of commerce and of work,
                              should never be allowed to violate the
                              dignity and centrality of the human
                              person or the democracy of peoples,"
                              John Paul said at a Vatican Mass for
                              the world's workers.

In Russia, attendance at the Communist-led May Day march was low in
Moscow and half-dozen other cities.

                   In other areas:
Paris: French far-right parties staged traditional marches, targeting
non-French nationals.

Turkey: Tens of thousands demonstrated against the International Monetary
Fund.

Lebanon: Workers marched through Beirut, demanding better pay and job
security.

Japan: More than 1,000 rallies nationwide drew nearly 2 million people.

Hong Kong: Protesters smashed rice bowls -- the traditional symbol of the
worker's livelihood.

Beijing: Most Chinese took the day off and marked the occasion at parks or
at visits with friends and relatives.

Cambodia: More than 1,000 garment industry workers demanded higher
wages and better working conditions.

Cuba: President Fidel Castro called for millions to focus on 6-year-old
Elian Gonzalez, the subject of a bitter custody battle between his Cuban
father and Miami relatives in the United States.

Slovakia: Supporters of former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
demonstrated against high unemployment and a criminal investigation that
resulted in Meciar's arrest last week.

Zimbabwe: Labor unions told workers to stay home and called for an end to
the land reform violence that has swept the country in recent weeks.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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