The banking hub of the UK capital lacked its usual bustle on 1 April - many of the City workers that did show up had opted for denim and dressed down ahead of the G20 protests.
What started out as a peaceful demonstration erupted into violent clashes between protesters and police by the evening. But the first impression of the demonstration was of a huge street party. With music filling the air and people dancing on the streets, only the banners punctuating the sea of faces explained the purpose of the gathering.
It was not a celebration but a non-violent attempt to protest a wide array of issues. Starting from climate change and capitalism to a call for ending war and arms accumulation; everyone brought his/her own agenda to the protest.
An English teacher from Hackney, Natasha Hodson, was protesting against capitalism. She said: “Gordon Brown said he would introduce reforms in the G20. However, no amount of reforms will improve things worldwide. In a slump, the poor get poorer and the rich even richer. Capitalism does not work.”
The gathering brought together veteran protesters and those simply enjoying the excuse for a trip out. Another group from Bristol agreed with Ms Hodson's views. They argued that the interests of people and the environment should be placed before those of the banks. As a post script, they added that it was also a beautiful day to tour London.
Protester Peter M Le Mare, who has worked with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament came from Cornwall to take part in the demo. He said: “I'm here to protest against the terrible state of the world, climate change and putting people out of jobs when they are completely capable of being employed.” He was hopeful that the G20 leaders would take notice of the people's grievances and introduce measures to redress the situation.
With one tragic death and around 88 arrests, the demonstration was still charged with emotion. Police manning the situation used brute force to contain the crowd, penning in people for hours and cutting off access to water and toilet facilities. Although, the police tactics were able to stamp out the few spurts of violence, the spirits of the protesters were still buoyant. As people called to attention the world leaders, there was hope and a willingness to climb out of the downward spiral of economic gloom.