Firms warn British staff of protests before G8 summit
Some of the world’s biggest hedge funds, private equity firms and banks have warned their staff in London to take precautions in the event of disruption during a protest on Tuesday planned by anti-capitalist activists ahead of the G8 summit.
The demonstrators say they will stage a “Carnival Against Capitalism” across the British capital to kick off a week of direct action before Britain hosts a summit of leaders from the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations next week at a golf resort in Northern Ireland.
Similar protests in recent years by anti-globalisation groups and anarchists have led to violent clashes with police, vandalism and buildings being temporarily occupied. Others have passed off peacefully or failed to attract much support.
Last month the StopG8 group issued a map of 100 potential targets for people to “show their anger”, identifying offices of major financial organisations such as banks, hedge funds, defence manufacturer BAE Systems and mining and energy companies including ArcelorMittal and BP.
“Traditionally, carnival is the time where the people take over the streets, the bosses run and hide, and the world gets turned upside down,” the StopG8 group said on its website.
“It is a time to celebrate our resistance and our dreams, to bring music and colour to the streets. And also to show our strength and our anger.”
The group, which described itself as an openly anti-capitalist network “made up of autonomous groups and individuals”, has refused to cooperate with police before Tuesday’s protest, meaning it is not clear how many people will attend, or where they will focus their attentions.
StopG8 has called for supporters to meet at noon at two locations in the heart of central London’s main shopping district, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly.
One banker working for a major international firm with offices in central London said the staff had received an email indicating some 500 people would attend the protest.
The email said there would be enhanced security checks at its building as there was a possibility it might be a target.
The private equity firm Carlyle Group said it was increasing usual building security measures. “Staff have been advised to take whatever measures they deem necessary,” a spokeswoman said.
One large hedge fund, which asked not to be identified, said it had advised its staff to be especially alert to the protests.
“We’re clearly aware of it,” it said. “Our guidance is to be careful and don’t draw attention to yourself as obviously being a hedge fund manager. We’re not expecting a riot on our doorstep.”
Recent demonstrations against the British government’s austerity measures have been marred by rioting anarchists, while many Britons angered by bank bailouts and bonuses during tough economic times blame the financial sector.
In 2009, police made more than 100 arrests after protests by tens of thousands of people to coincide with a G20 economic summit in London turned violent.
There were also clashes between anti-globalisation demonstrators and riot police in Scotland when Britain last hosted a meeting of G8 heads in 2005.
“We’re aware of the chatter that’s going on out there on the Internet. We are going to ensure that we’ve got the resources that we can move around to deal with whatever occurs,” a London police spokesman said.
He said they had done a lot of work to prepare businesses for the event and help them to minimise disruption.