LONDON (Reuters) - About 100 activists rallied in the shadow of London’s Canary Wharf financial district on Friday, encircled by police, in a protest against capitalism before next week’s G8 summit in the United Kingdom.
Environmentalists, anti-poverty campaigners and women’s rights groups waved banners reading “Capitalism = Crisis” and “Power to the People” in the Wharf, home to major banks such as Barclays and JP Morgan.
London has seen several demonstrations ahead of next week’s summit of leaders from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations in Northern Ireland, but they have, so far, not matched the mass rallies of past years.
Police and security officers have outnumbered protesters at most events this week.
Canary Wharf, whose glass skyscrapers housing offices and shops now dominate the formerly derelict dock area in east London, is a privately owned estate and security is usually tight. It has never seen any major demonstrations.
Large numbers of police looked on as protesters unfurled their banners, but the demonstration went on peacefully with speeches and a band playing music.
One activist, Lianna Etkind, said governments had failed to take action against large companies dodging their tax responsibilities five years after the start of the financial crisis and public bailout.
“It feels like ordinary people are paying for the financial crisis whereas banks are getting away with it,” said the 28-year-old worker for a disability charity.
On the low turnout, she said: “It’s part of a wider movement. Things like this keep the momentum going.”
Canary Wharf is also home to HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.
“The businesses and banks of Canary Wharf are deciding on, funding and profiting from projects that created the economic crisis and the climate crisis,” Emma Wilding, from They Owe Us, said in a statement.
“We have come to this pinnacle of capitalism to resist and challenge this because this is where the decisions are made that ruin our lives.”
On Tuesday, riot police clashed with around 200 anti-capitalists during a day of cat-and-mouse chases through central London which brought traffic to a standstill on some of the busiest shopping streets.
Almost 60 arrests were made.
In 2011, anarchists attacked banks and luxury stores in central London following a large union-led protest against government spending cuts.
And in 2009, police made more than 100 arrests after demonstrations by tens of thousands of people to coincide with a G20 economic summit in London turned violent.
Editing by Andrew Heavens