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Police arrest 50 people in London during protest described as “anti-capitalist” by computer hacking group ‘Anonymous’

The actions were part of its annual “Million Mask March,” with a broad theme of opposition to “corruption, censorship, inequality and war”

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An effigy of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is burned as part of Bonfire Night celebrations in Edenbridge, England, Nov. 5, 2016. VOA

Washington, November 6, 2016: British police arrested nearly 50 people in London Saturday during a protest they described as “anti-capitalist,” organized by the computer hacking group known as Anonymous.

A similar demonstration in Washington, said to be “anti-corruption,” resulted in two arrests for defacing or damaging public property.

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The Anonymous group said the actions were part of its annual “Million Mask March,” with a broad theme of opposition to “corruption, censorship, inequality and war.” Scattered reports of small-scale demonstrations in other cities have appeared on social media.

Many demonstrators were disguised as Guy Fawkes, wearing masks with a stylized image of the 17th-century revolutionary who plotted to blow up the British Parliament. Anonymous has adopted the Guy Fawkes visage, which first appeared in the cult film V for Vendetta, as a symbol of its anti-establishment stance.

Britons traditionally remember Guy Fawkes each year on November 5, known as Bonfire Night, by celebrations in towns and cities throughout the country, usually with large public bonfires commemorating the foiled Gunpowder Plot in 1605.

London crowd spreads

The largest crowd for Saturday’s Million Mask March demonstration was in London. The Independent newspaper said several thousand people turned out in central London and began marching toward Trafalgar Square, ignoring restrictions imposed on the event. London police had issued a public warning beforehand that “masked criminals seeking to run amok” were expected.

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The march began peacefully, with the crowd chanting “Whose streets? Our streets,” and “One solution: revolution” as police officers walked beside the protesters.

When the crowd reached Trafalgar Square, fireworks were set off, several demonstrators climbed onto the base of a tall stone column that honors the British naval hero Lord Nelson, and others split off in groups marching along routes that had not been approved by police.

Officers wearing protective helmets and carrying riot gear moved into the crowd, demanding that protesters remove their masks and identify themselves, and detaining those who refused. By late evening, 47 people had been arrested — many for drug offenses, others for obstruction, criminal damage and other infractions.

Incidents in U.S.

In Washington, meanwhile, police reported protesters spray-painted graffiti at FBI headquarters, midway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol, as well as at the nearby Trump International Hotel. A city police car was damaged at some point, and two men were arrested.

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In what appeared to be an unconnected incident, the U.S. Secret Service said officers arrested a man who was walking near the White House carrying a firearm. The executive mansion was briefly placed on lockdown, but President Barack Obama was not present at the time.

Obama was enjoying the sunny autumn afternoon by playing golf at the time at an Air Force base outside Washington, when the security incident occurred downtown. (VOA)

Next Story

Pence Criticizes Europe For Iran, Venezuela, Russia Links

The atmosphere this year is one of apprehension, according to analyst Florence Gaub of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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United States Vice President Mike Pence briefs the media during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. VOA

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence strongly criticized European allies Saturday for their stance on Iran and Venezuela, in a speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“The time has come for our European partners to stop undermining U.S. sanctions against this murderous, revolutionary regime. The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal,” Pence told delegates.

He also called on allies to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela. More than 20 European states have done so, but the European Union has stopped short of fully recognizing Guaido as president. Disputed president Nicholas Maduro is widely accused of vote-rigging to win last years’ election, while the country is mired in poverty and hyperinflation.

“Once more the Old World can take a strong stand in support of freedom in the New World. Today we call on the European Union to step forward for freedom and recognize Juan Guaido as the only legitimate president of Venezuela,” Pence said.

China repeatedly was singled out by the vice president as a threat to the United States and its allies.

“The United States has also been very clear with our security partners on the threat posed by Huawei and other Chinese telecom companies, as Chinese law requires them to provide Beijing’s vast security apparatus with access to any data that touches their network or equipment.”

Pence repeated Washington’s calls for European NATO allies to do more to meet their military spending targets — and cautioned against developing economic links with Moscow, such as the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline currently under construction between Russia and Germany.

United States Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
United States Vice President Mike Pence delivers his speech during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. VOA

“We cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on the East,” Pence said.

Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took the stage later Saturday, and said Europe was losing out because of its stance on Russia.

“At a time when the Europeans allowed to draw themselves into a senseless standoff with Russia and incurred multi-billion-dollar losses from the sanctions pushed for from overseas, the world is rapidly changing. Actually, the EU has lost its monopoly on the regional integration agenda,” Lavrov said.

China’s senior delegate did not respond directly to the accusations made by Vice President Pence, but instead he offered a defense of multilateralism.

“Our world stands at a crossroads and faces a consequential choice between unilateralism and multilateralism, conflict and dialogue, isolation and openness,” Yang Jiechi, a senior member of the politburo and a former Chinese ambassador to the U.S., told delegates.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes United States Vice President Mike Pence, left, for a bilateral meeting during the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. VOA

Those sentiments were earlier echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who strongly criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s claims that Europe was taking advantage of America on trade.

The Munich Security Conference is seen as a key annual forum for world leaders to discuss global security concerns and conflicts — both in public and in private — in dozens of closed-door meetings taking place inside the venue.

The atmosphere this year is one of apprehension, according to analyst Florence Gaub of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

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“There is still a lot of grief over the old order being gone where everything was much more predictable, or at least appeared to be more predictable. So that’s slowly setting in,” said Gaub.

The tone of the conference speeches suggests that even among allies, tensions over a changing world order are no closer to being solved. (VOA)