Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boarded-Up London; BUSINESSES CLOSE AND POLICE DRAFT IN 4,000 OFFICERS AHEAD OF MAY DAY PROTESTS

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Boarded-Up London; BUSINESSES CLOSE AND POLICE DRAFT IN 4,000 OFFICERS AHEAD OF MAY DAY PROTESTS

Article excerpt

Byline: NIGEL ROSSER;ROB MCNEIL;ROSS LYDALL

BUSINESSES were boarded up in London today as the capital braced itself for potential May Day violence.

As thousands of anarchists and antiwar demonstrators prepared to descend on targets across the city, the total cost in terms of lost business and time off work was expected to be at least pound sterling6 million reaching as high as pound sterling20million if there is serious trouble.

Police began deploying before dawn in an operation that will cost the taxpayer around pound sterling2million. About 4,000 officers were standing by as Scotland Yard cancelled all leave.

Defences went up across the City and the West End with an army of workmen toiling through the night to erect fibreboard cladding over glass shop and office fronts and around statues and memorials in Whitehall.

In Mayfair and Park Lane, Prada, Dunhill, De Beers, TAG Heuer and BMW were all boarded up.

In Parliament Square, the statue of Sir Winston Churchill - defaced with paint, graffiti and eggs during May Day riots in 2000 - was carefully protected, as was the Cenotaph in Whitehall and statues of Second World War leaders Viscounts Montgomery and Alanbrooke.

Many of the companies included on a hitlist of "sites for inspection" on the main anarchist website promoting the protest have told their staff to stay at home.

The High Holborn offices of Lockheed Martin - the world's biggest arms manufacturer and one of the main focal points for protesters will remain empty apart from security guards.

Oil companies, employment agencies and even the BBC World Service were also on the anarchists' hitlist along with Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.

Niketown in Oxford Circus was flagged up on the website under the heading "corporate scum" accused by the anarchists of using production sweatshops.

Staff at the store were believed to have been given the option of staying at home, and one said: "I'm not coming in - I saw what happened in the City in 2000. I don't want to get my head kicked in just because I work here."

The store will stay open but Lindsey Sexton-Chadwick, Nike communications director, said: "We are ready to respond with appropriate action should we be advised to do so by the Metropolitan Police. …

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