Violence breaks out during march

Violence breaks out during march

The rioters, whose faces were also covered, went on the rampage in the heart of the city, prompting swift arrests as some 50 policemen in riot gear intervened. Demonstrators were forced to the ground and then bundled into vans, a witness said. The rest of the march — the centrepiece of protests planned in 130 cities across the world — remained peaceful although tension was building as protesters condemned the violence, the reporter said.

The heart of the Danish capital was taken over by environmentalists and anti-capitalist demonstrators on a six-kilometre march that would take them to the venue of the ongoing UN conference.

“We put their number at around 30,000 but this is just an estimate,” a police official on duty said. The Danish TV2 News channel put the crowd strength between 30,000 and 100,000. Organisers of the rally had repeatedly asked the crowd to remain calm and friendly before the march began, dominated by calls for social justice and against capitalism.

“Copenhagen is in the eye of the storm. Each year 300,000 people are dying because of climate change. This is not about adaptation, it is about survival,” Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, said in a speech.Nigerian Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: “We cannot allow carbon traders to damage the world. There is no such thing as clean coal or clean crude. Leave the oil in the soil, leave the coal in hole.”

The demonstrators included a group from China sponsored by businessman James Hong, a designer and clothing manufacturer from Fujian province, who paid out of his own pocket for 15 of his employees to come to the Danish capital.

Central Copenhagen was in virtual lockdown, with thousands of police deployed or on standby ahead of the march. Other demonstrators sported banners that read: “There is no planet B,”  “Change the politics not the climate,” and “Nature does not compromise”.