Who are the G20 protesters?

Al Jazeera English – THE 2009 G20 LONDON SUMMIT – Who are the G20 protesters?

Who are the G20 protesters?
By Jacqueline Head in London
A range of protests are taking place ahead of and on the day of the G20 summit [AFP]
A range of protests are taking place ahead of and on the day of the G20 summit [AFP]

Thousands of people from a large range of groups including anti-capitalists, environmental activists and those angry at the global economic downturn are protesting in London in advance of Thursday’s G20 summit.

Many are using social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to drum up support and organise events, as well as broadcast their messages to the wider public.


Anti-capitalist protesters have harnessed the recession as a vehicle to promote their ideology to people disillusioned with the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

The “G20 meltdown”, which is planning “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” processions through the city, aims to protest outside banking institutions, winding up at the Bank of England on Wednesday.

Follow Al Jazeera’s correspondents at the G20 Summit

Its campaign points to the collapse of world markets as a sign that “capitalism is not working”, and adds free markets have been “heating up our world for years, melting the icecaps, burning up the rainforests, pushing the planet to tipping point”.

Another group, the Government of the Dead, suggests Wednesday is the day to “dance on the grave of capitalism” with a “Financial Fools Day Party”.

These groups, once viewed as traditionally anti-establishment, could be joined by those with more moderate views, including workers and those hit by the economic crisis.

The “Youth Fight for Jobs Campaign”, which will take place on Thursday, is a sign of added social unrest due to the recession.

The campaign calls for a “bailout for the rest of us” with better pay and conditions for young workers, along with an end to university fees.

Environmental activists

Groups urging action on climate change have also linked their campaigns to the current economic crisis.

In depth

The Climate Camp, which blames the “failed economic system” for looming environmental catastrophe is planning to protest outside the European Climate Exchange.

Kevin Smith, a participant from the group, told Al Jazeera they had chosen the spot because “carbon trading hasn’t worked, and it’s not going to work”.

The group believes carbon trading is used by wealthy industrialised nations to avoid reducing their emissions by trading carbon credits amongst themselves.

Smith said the group, which plans to set up a 24-hr camp outside the exchange, “hopes to provoke a critical awareness that the type of measures G20 are going to propose won’t work” to solve climate change.

“The type of measures G20 are proposing are essentially at odds with getting back on track on climate change. We want solutions to come from the real people, the public,” he said.

A global “Fossil Fools Day” will also have a large presence at G20 protests, which aims to “end of the fossil fuel empire” and begin a “more just and sustainable world”.

An “ice-berg demo” is also planned to take place outside the Excel Centre, where the G20 summit will be held, with participants encouraged to bring ice cubes to highlight the rise of global warming.

Anti-war groups

A “jobs not bombs” protest is being planned outside the US embassy on Wednesday, followed by a march to Trafalgar Square, organised by Stop the War Coalition.

Protest groups on Saturday urged G20 leaders to ‘put people first’ [ GALLO/GETTY]
The economy is also being used as a tool by anti-war campaigners, with anger over the amount of money being spent on war and saving financial institutions.

David Wilson, from the coalition, told Al Jazeera there is a stronger trend towards activism this year “because people are fed up”.

“There’s always money for wars and bankers but no money for civilised society,” he said. Protest groups on Saturday urged G20 leaders to ‘put people first’ [ GALLO/GETTY]

The group are calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, self-determination for Palestine, an end to nuclear weapons, along with a call for jobs to be created instead of bombs.

Alternative summit

A summit that aims to promote alternative ideas and strategies for politics, the environment and the economy will be held a day ahead of the G20 conference.

The summit, launched in direct response to the meeting of world leaders, will include a number of well-known speakers including Ken Livingstone, former London mayor, and Tariq Ali, novelist and political campaigner.

The Alternative London Summit says it is for “everyone who thinks that the bankers and politicians in their pay have been making a mess of things and need to be sacked and replaced”.

A number of anarchist groups are also expected to join protests, calling for a change in society and an end to the rich elite.

Some British press have highlighted concern that anarchist groups secretly plan to storm banks or cause protests to turn violent, while others are pointing to an increased police presence.
Source: Al Jazeera

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