14 April 2009
As the storm over last week's G20 protests continues to rage, another major demonstration, over the fighting in Sri Lanka, has been going on in London.
So how have these other, far less high-profile, protesters been policed this week, in the wake of Ian Tomlinson's death and the furore over kettling and other police tactics?
On Thursday 10 April, in London's Parliament Square, I found around 300 Tamil protesters; it was day four of their protest.
Two students were lying under plastic sheets in the light rain as friends and paramedics gathered round them.
Sivatharsan Sivakumaraval, a 21-year-old computer science student, and Parameswaran Subramaniyan, 28, were on a hunger strike; they had not eaten since Tuesday morning.
That was the day they were demonstrating on Westminster bridge until, they claim, police hit and dragged protesters back to the square.
"We started on Monday on a peaceful protest," Sivakumaraval said, his voice a whisper.
"But the police used force to push us here [into Parliament Square] and beat us. The police said we were disturbing people. We don't want to cause a disturbance so we chose to go on a hunger strike. I'm doing it for my people who are being killed by the Sri Lankan government."
The demonstrators are calling for an end to what they say is a "Tamil genocide".
Currently 100,000 civilians are trapped in the war-torn north of Sri Lanka as the government battles the Liberation Tigers of Eelam.
The protesters insist they cannot leave while their relatives are being bombed, and are in need of medical and food supplies.
Frustrated that earlier protests had not resulted in action, on Monday afternoon thousands of demonstrators blocked Westminster bridge.
Janani Paramsothy, 18, from east London, said she spoke to police beforehand.
"The chief inspector told us if we kept things peaceful they would not touch us. They said, 'If you trust us, we will trust you.'"
Although many protesters left during Monday night, by Tuesday morning the bridge was still blocked.
As the stragglers slept, the police changed their tactics, with officers forcibly removing the activists, according to Raguram Raveendramany: "They told us we had to go. We weren't fighting, but we were arguing with the police, so they forced us to move. They grabbed my belt and then one pushed me in the back and one kicked me in the chest. A police officer hit my eye and I got a black eye."
Kethees Yogarasa was also on the bridge at 9.30am. He said: "The police were using violence so we held hands. They just pulled me up. They stamped on my head."
Santhi Moorthy, a 50-year-old housewife, said she was terrified as the demonstrators fell over in the rush away from the bridge.
"They were pushing everyone, even those with pushchairs and babies. I didn't hear any warning. I was frightened and shaking."
Despite the scuffle they all chose to remain at the protest, sleeping in Parliament Square overnight and planning a march through central London this weekend.
By Thursday afternoon, after days of press criticism over police tactics at the G20, a softer approach from police was obvious.
Officers were chatting in groups of two or three, with a line of police behind a railing in front of the protesters.
When a young man took out a can of spray paint, an officer merely checked that he was only using the paint to make a banner, before strolling away.
The demonstrators themselves looked tired and dishevelled, as they held placards and chanted calls for an end to the war.
Chief Inspector Russell Taylor, who was on the scene, said he could not comment on the events of Tuesday morning as he was not at the demonstration.
But he said: "The crowd is extremely compliant. No one will tell us how long it will go on for and we are in discussion with the coordinators. Not all the officers [available] are being deployed - we are trying to keep things balanced and proportional".