Climate protests play cat and mouse with UK police

LONDON Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:38am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change campaigners will on Wednesday launch a week of protests against financial institutions, big corporations and the government, a test for London police after criticism of its handling of G20 protests.

Organizers say more than 1,000 people will set up camp at an undisclosed location in protest at what they say is "green posturing" by politicians and business executives who talk about saving the environment while expanding airports, coal-fired power stations and other sources of planet-warming gases.

At the G20 summit in April, a newspaper seller died after being shoved by a policeman during a protest near the Bank of England.

The demonstrators plan to target 22 organizations, including the London Stock Exchange, Heathrow Airport and the finance ministry, according to organizers' plans leaked to the media.

They may force their way into offices, unfurl banners from rooftops or glue themselves to buildings in London's financial district, organizers said. They are refusing to tell police where they plan to camp because they do not trust them.

"The City of London is the epicenter of a global economic system whose obsession with economic growth is taking us to the edge of an ecological catastrophe," Climate Camp spokesman Peter McDonnell told Reuters.

The central bank is one of six gathering points where protestors will learn details of the campsite's location on Wednesday via email, text message and the Twitter site.

Other meeting points include Stratford train station, near the 2012 Olympics site in east London, and the offices of oil major BP and mining company Rio Tinto.

POLICE 'UNDER SCRUTINY'

Protesters will also meet at Stockwell underground train station in south London, where police shot dead a Brazilian man mistaken for a suicide bomber in 2005.

"Police behavior is rightly under scrutiny," said Tim French, who will join the Stockwell protest. "Environmental activists are increasingly being criminalized for our actions."

About 200 extra officers have been drafted in from across Britain to create a 500-strong force to cover the camp, which police estimate will attract between 1,000 and 1,500 activists.

The force will be stretched over the weekend by the Notting Hill Carnival, one of Europe's biggest open-air parties.

Scotland Yard's Assistant Commissioner Chris Allison said he would adopt a "neighborhood style" of policing, but he refused to rule out a controversial tactic known as kettling, where protesters are corralled and held within a cordon for hours.

"It is a contingency plan," he told reporters. "We have got no evidence that we are going to get into that kind of situation at all. There is no intelligence of any disorder."

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