Boris Johnson dismisses anti-war protest as 'vandalism'
THE 'DEMOCRACY VILLAGE' peace camp on Parliament Square was ripped down by police last night, an early victim of new laws that aim to limit the public's right of protest in central London.
Officers from the Met and staff from Westminster council cleared all but a couple of the 30 or so tents pitched on the pavement of Parliament Square, having cleared tents from the square itself last July.
One tent occupant who started legal proceedings against the eviction was left alone by the police.
"The police action follows the clear will of the people, expressed through Parliament, to remove this encampment," said Westminster Council chief Colin Barrow.
Barrow was referring to a controversial new law passed last September which gives the police more powers to tear down protest camps, as well as severely limiting the right to protest in the Whitehall area, the seat of government.
Beginning in 2001 as a demonstration against Britain's involvement in the invasion of Afghanistan and moving through the subsequent war on Iraq, the peace camp achieved iconic status, particularly when veteran campaigner Brain Haw was still alive.
London Mayor Boris Johnson welcomed the police action, calling the protest "vandalism".
"I think it was high time that a world heritage site was properly protected from what was basically vandalism," said Johnson.
"It had become an eyesore."