Rogue protestors caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage on Saturday after separating from a peaceful protest in London.
A “small minority” of vandals attacked high profile sites in the West-End, including the Ritz hotel, banks and the Oxford Street branch of Topshop, hurling paint bombs and smashing windows as well as confronting riot police.
Shortly before an attempt to smash a window of John Lewis, one protestor was heard to announce: “We need to do something now, or people will start to leave.”
The Education Activist Network (EAN), a group which gained a lot of publicity during last year’s student protests, held a feeder march which joined the main event at a later point. Around 50 members of the Kingston EAN were present at the march.
Alastair Farrow, of Kingston University EAN, said : “I was near to the Ritz at the time. I didn’t see the acts of vandalism, I did see police officers harassing people who hadn’t been involved.
“Protesters are being victimised with pre-emptive violence and then condemned for reacting; I don’t necessarily think that smashing a window is the right thing to do, but I definitely know that beating someone is the wrong thing to do.”
The action group UK Uncut staged a peaceful occupation of luxury store Fortnum and Mason, spending several hours inside while other protestors climbed onto the façade of the building and rioters and police battled outside.
They had planned a 3.30pm occupation of several stores on Oxford Street accused of tax-avoidance, including Topshop, Vodafone and Boots, and banks that had been bailed out by the UK government.
This plan was disrupted by the violence which erupted in the busy shopping precinct, leading many of these shops to close before the appointed hour.
The events were in sharp contrast to the main protest organised by the TUC as a protest against government spending cuts. The official march passed through the streets with a rather carnivalesque atmosphere, before culminating in Hyde Park with several speeches including Labour leader Ed Miliband and performances of live music.