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14 Dec 2010
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British Home Secretary Theresa May said on Monday that student protests in the country over the past month have been "infiltrated by hard-core activists and street gangs."

May told the members of parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons that a series of large-scale demonstrations by students since Nov. 10 had resulted in violence and criminal damage in central London.

She was speaking in the wake of a demonstration on Thursday which saw thousands of police confront over 10,000 protesters outside parliament, and which saw statues defaced, windows of the finance ministry building broken, and fires started.

May said: "It is quite clear that these acts were not perpetrated by a small minority but by a significant number of troublemakers. Some students behaved disgracefully but the police also assess that the protests were infiltrated by organized groups of hard-core groups of activists and street gangs bent on violence. "

She added that an urgent investigation into security around the heir to Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, had been started in the wake of an attack on a car carrying him and his wife to the theater through the shopping district of central London by a small group of protesters who had broken away from the demonstration.

Protesters smashed a window on the car, poked the prince's wife with a stick through a window, and kicked the car as well as daubing it with paint. The investigation will report this Friday.

May said there was evidence showing that "many of those causing violence were organized thugs as well as students."

She added: "The blame for the violence lies squarely and solely with those who carried it out. The idea that police tactics were to blame when people came armed with sticks, flares, fireworks, stones, and snooker balls is as ridiculous as it is unfair."

During the march and demonstration last Thursday, tens of thousand demonstrators marked about two kilometers through central London. As they passed Parliament Square on their way to their final assembly place, protesters clambered over fencing to occupy the square.

May said: "We have a culture of policing in this country that is based on popular consent and that must continue. The government is determined to protect peaceful protest but violence is unacceptable."



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