Australia:Riot police wade into anti-globalization protest : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sep 12, 12:17 EDT

Riot police wade into protest

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Police armed with batons and riot shields waded into anti-globalization protesters outside a major economic forum today, injuring many in the crowd in the latest outbreak of violence to stem from the demonstrations.

Protest organizers said scores of demonstrators were injured and 22 hospitalized. They warned that the police action could rebound in stronger protests.

In the early-morning raid, hundreds of police surprised demonstrators who had staged an all-night vigil outside the Crown Casino, the venue for the Asia Pacific Economic Summit of business and government leaders. The police, some on horseback, charged the demonstrators to break a blockade that was preventing delegates from entering a hall for the summit. They broke through long enough for several charter buses carrying conference delegates to speed through.

Organizers said about 50 demonstrators were injured in clashes during the charge, mostly with cuts and abrasions. Police said one officer was taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties.

''We were just linking arms and enforcing the blockade when the coppers came over the top of the barricade,'' said protester Frank Vanwierst, blood pouring down his face as he sat in a first aid tent outside the casino. ''I had my back turned, but I was told a copper with a shaved head whacked me on the head with his baton.''

Later Tuesday, when delegates began to leave the hall in buses, police charged about 150 protesters at one blockage to clear the way for the fleet of buses.

Protest organizers accused police of using excessive and heavy-handed tactics. Police said the measures were appropriate.

''We've had a whole pile of protesters attacked by police on horseback,'' said protest spokesperson Stephen Jolly.

''There's batons flying left, right and centre.

''It's way out of line. I'm telling you they're asking for it. There's a hell of a lot of workers coming down here today and this is going to heighten emotions something terrible.''

On Monday, thousands of anti-capitalism protesters who oppose globalization of the world's markets and economies surrounded the complex for the opening day of the conference, stopping about 200 of the nearly 900 registered delegates from entering.

Protesters clashed with police several times. In the worst violence, dozens of protesters surrounded and climbed over Western Australian state Premier Richard Court's car, slashing its tires and spray-painting it with anti-capitalism slogans before a police baton-charge cleared a path.

Five protesters and five police officers required hospital treatment. One organizer described the protests as ''Seattle without the tear gas'' - a reference to violence that marred last year's World Trade Organization talks there.

The conference is being hosted by the privately-funded, Switzerland-based World Economic Forum. Its most high-profile delegate, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, said the protesters were mistaken if they were opposing global trade on social grounds.

-- Carl Jenkins (, September 12, 2000

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