When are the people of London going to stand up to anarchist vandals? I, along with a number of my colleagues, was at Saturday's march against the Tory austerity cuts. To be perfectly honest, the day, on the whole, could be categorised as a success. The main aim of the organisers was achieved, and having Ed Miliband address the crowd of workers and their supporters was a nice way to end of the march and signal that the demonstrators' voices were heard.
In fact, organisers - throughout the march - thanked the police not only for their work on the march, but also adopted them as brothers and sisters who need better representation against austerity cuts across the nation. But, as always, the anarchists hitched a ride on someone else's cart. Even from the beginning of the march - with riot police keeping a watchful eye - the group of hooligans made their intent clear: cause damage and cause mayhem.
Towards the middle of the march, they began to splinter off from the main group of peaceful protesters. Their destination, Oxford Street, was advertised on Twitter hours before. At around 2:30pm, with police struggling to keep pace with the sprinting group, a mass of vandals converged on one of the most cherished, and historic, quarters of London.
The group, made up mostly of Black Bloc, Solidarity Federation and Anonymous weekend anarchists, ran up and down Oxford Street attempting to force their way into shops ranging from small Boots outlets to the larger stores, such as Primark and Marks and Spencer. This, according to the vandals, was in response to news many of these stores paid no UK tax over the past number of years. For this reason, Starbucks - which according to company statements didn't pay tax because it made no money in the UK - was a frequent target for the masked thugs.
Where do these kids get off? I just don't understand; do they really think tearing down a display in a branch of Boots on Regent Street is going to have any impact on the policy decisions of the main office? Do they not realise that all they're doing is making life harder for store employees who are, more than likely, far worse off than the vandals themselves. I witnessed pensioners, kids and mothers terrified by what these hooligans were doing. This behavior has no place in a civilised society, let alone in London.
I am all for the right to protest, but we as a society cannot support what these miscreants continue to do march after march, protest after protest. It is time event organisers - and the general public as a whole - take a proactive stance against this small, yet unprincipled group of bandits. Admittedly, police are already doing their best to proactively protect people and businesses from these mainly middle class yobs, but these masked anarchists should not be welcomed into any march - no matter the organisers.
Follow Liam Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/liamcbrown