Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Clashes in Parliament Square squatters' protest

At least 12 people were arrested after protesters staged a demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament over plans to criminalise squatting. About 150 people gathered in Parliament Square in Westminster shortly after midnight, according to reports.
A number of scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators, with officers using batons and loud-hailers in an attempt to disperse the crowds, according to the BBC.
The majority of protesters moved away from the scene peacefully, but about 50 people refused to leave, claiming they were holding a Halloween picnic, it was reported.
A police cordon was set up and a number of people were arrested before the area was cleared by about 3am, eyewitnesses said. Scotland Yard confirmed that 12 arrests had been made in connection with the incident, but said the number could rise.
Politicians are due to debate the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill on Tuesday, which proposes that squatting be made a criminal offence.
Under section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (Socpa), organising or participating in an "unauthorised" demonstration within 1km of parliament is a criminal offence.
Demonstrators claimed they were attempting to stage a "mass sleep-out" on Parliament Green over proposals to criminalise squatting in residential buildings contained in the bill.
The campaign group Squatters' Action for Secure Homes (Squash) said hundreds of police officers were deployed on the streets of Westminster and used "kettling" tactics against those involved in the protests.
Television footage shows a number of officers grappling with angry demonstrators and some being carried into the back of police vans.
It is believed the majority of those arrested were detained under Socpa.

taken from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/01/parliament-square-squatters-protest

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