Thatcher death: Police brace for funeral protests

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POLICE are bracing themselves for protests in the run-up to Baroness Thatcher’s funeral following warnings from left-wing groups over the part state-funded ceremony.

Events have been listed on the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, including one called ‘If Thatcher does get a State Funeral We Will Riot’.

Organisers later claimed that the event was “tongue-in-cheek” but that a “picket or a demo may be in order”.

The Indymedia website, run by a Bristol-based anarchist group, wrote in a post yesterday morning: “I suspect there are thousands of people out there who think that having a party is not enough. They want to be there at her state funeral.

“They want to protest at the injustice of Thatcher parading her wealth and status through the streets of London, when so many live and die in poverty as a result of her policies.”

It finished with: “Don’t buckle under the [police] scare tactics. See you all on the streets.”

Officers are reported to be monitoring social media, internet forums and BlackBerry messaging networks – used by gangs to co-ordinate attacks during the England riots of summer 2011 – in the expectation that the funeral procession next Wednesday will be targeted by protesters.

The Metropolitan Police has made pre-emptive arrests after gathering intelligence about demonstrations, most notably before the royal wedding in 2011, when dozens of people were detained.

However, the force has only stated that a “range of appropriate tactics” will be used. Concerns were raised after impromptu street parties broke out on Monday evening in Leeds, Bristol, Brixton, Liverpool and in Glasgow.

Subsequent protests have been organised for this weekend, in Glasgow, Belfast and London, among others, according to Facebook.

The challenge of the Met, and other forces, is likely to be handling these weekend protests, including in Trafalgar Square, a part of London associated with violent poll tax protests, followed by those on the day of the funeral.

Daniel, a 26-year-old from south London who was at Monday night’s Brixton protest, told a London newspaper that he and others are attempting to organise a similar event for Saturday evening, adding: “There’s never been an event with such a publicity run-up.”

He said protests would only turn violent if officers attempted to stop people voicing their opinions.

“It would be unwise of the police to come down hard,” he said.

A Met spokesman said: “Given the nature of the event, our operation will use of a range of appropriate tactics.”