London braces for G-20 protests

A man protests against climate change while a British police officer stands by in London before the start of the G-20 summit.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: World leaders are gathering in the British capitol today ahead of the G-20 economic summit. President Obama spoke at this hour at a news conference alongside Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He says he knows the world must come together to get a handle on this economic fallout.

President Barack Obama: History shows us that when nations fail to cooperate, when they turn away from one another, when they turn inward, the price for our people only grows. That's how The Great Depression deepened. That's a mistake that we cannot afford to repeat.

President Obama just moments ago.

Let's bring in our European correspondent Stephen Beard, who's in London. Stephen, I can imagine there's quite the security operation taking place there.

Stephen Beard: The biggest, actually, that Britain has ever seen. For obvious reasons -- I mean we will have here the world's top 20 leaders, representing two-thirds of the world's population and 85 percent of the world's global activity. So an enormous concentration of foreign leaders and other dignitaries. London is heaving with police, Steve. And the whole operation, very expensive in London policing terms, it's going to come to about $11 million. Mmm.

Chiotakis: But Stephen, the summit's tomorrow. So why so much security today?

Beard: Because today is a day that's been set aside for protests. And these protests will match the diversity of the diplomatic occasion. I mean, there's at least 20 different protest groups representing a wide variety of concerns: poverty, unemployment, there's an anti-war group, anti-climate change, there are groups demonstrating against capitalism. So there's going to be a sort of massive protest fest today. And the police are hoping that because they've got so many people deployed that this is going to pass without too much trouble. But of course, the big fear is it's going to be hugely embarrassing if there is a major riot. And of course, the ultimate nightmare, what happened at the G-8 meeting in January in 2001, where a protestor was killed and hundreds were injured. So that's clearly what they're very keen to avoid.

Chiotakis: I can't imagine Londoners are happy about all this hassle though, Stephen, right?

Beard: No, there's bit a lot of complaining. Small businesses are upset about the potential disruption, and there's a big demonstration in the financial district today called "Financial Fools' Day" Rally." That has encouraged some of the banks to tell their workers to dress down today -- not to dress so that they look like bankers or well-heeled financial workers, so that as they walk around in the street, they'll be unrecognizable. As you can imagine, many people in central London may decide that they're better off taking the day off today.

Chiotakis: Oh my. Stephen Beard joining us from London. Thank you, Stephen.

Beard: OK, Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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