Visions of apocalypse - financial and environmental - hung over London on Wednesday as protesters gathered in the streets of the city's financial district on the eve of the G-20 summit of world leaders.
Police stand guard as protesters march behind a giant "Horseman of the Apocalypse" puppet.
But the worst fears of those who had predicted an explosion of rage against the Bank of England and other symbols of capitalism largely failed to materialize due to a heavy police presence and the peaceful intentions of a large majority of protesters.
Around 4,000 anti-capitalist and environmental campaigners, loosely organized under the umbrella group G-20 Meltdown, followed four giant "Horsemen of the Apocalypse" puppets from four London railway stations, converging on the Bank of England at around 11.45 a.m. local time (6.45 a.m. ET) for a demonstration billed as a "mass street party."
"Justice! Peace! Climate!" the crowds chanted, and "Revolution!" Some carried banners reading "Abolish money," "Balls to the bankers," and "Capitalism isn't working."
There were sporadic clashes between police and protesters clad in black hoods and masks as one of the marches approached the bank from Liverpool Street Station. Several police helmets were thrown in the air and officers were forced to retreat to the steps of the bank as some protesters threw pink paint and smoke bombs. Windows were also smashed at a nearby branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Police quickly moved to shut down the area, trapping thousands of protesters outside the bank and deploying extra offices in riot gear and on horses.
But the mood inside the cordon remained mostly good humoured with a jazz band, drummers and street theatre groups keeping the crowds entertained throughout the afternoon and many sitting in the road enjoying the warm spring sunshine, or chalking slogans on walls and pavements.
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