Police fought mobs of masked thugs who pelted officers with ammonia and fireworks loaded with coins.
The violence began as Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, addressed a TUC rally of at least 250,000 peaceful protesters in Hyde Park who had marched from Westminster to demonstrate against government spending cuts.
As he spoke, an apparently co-ordinated attack began on shops and police in Oxford Street as a mob tried to storm into shops including Topshop, BHS and John Lewis.
MPs and retailers said the scenes damaged Britain’s reputation around the world.
The move was the first of a string of actions by anarchists in which:
• There was violence last night in Trafalgar Square, with protesters setting banners ablaze and throwing missiles including broken bottles at police officers. As police contained protesters around Nelson’s Column, there were running battles in Strand. Close to Charing Cross railway station, a fire was started near shops;
• Fortnum and Mason, the department store, was occupied by 200 “anti-cuts” protesters who smashed windows and knocked over displays;
• A huge fire was started in the centre of Jermyn Street, the Ritz hotel was attacked with dustbins and a “Trojan horse” set on fire in Oxford Circus;
• Banks were broken into, their windows smashed and daubed with graffiti reading “smash the bank”;
• Windows were smashed in New Bond Street and running scuffles took place on Piccadilly, where a Porsche car showroom was attacked.
Let's be clear: these people are the enemy of humanity. They hate our prosperity and they hate liberty. They are spoiled children of an overly-generous welfare state and they do not fear the police, the judicial system or any authority whatsoever. If they are not put down they will bring poverty, chaos, killing, oppression and finally totalitarianism.
The Brits should be concerned; they haven't even started with the pain that will be necessary to avoid bankruptcy because of decades of overspending and deficits. And they have hitched their wagon to the failing European Union and will suffer for the sins of others as well as their own. The future looks rather bleak for broken Britain. Having brought so much enlightenment, prosperity, peace and order to the world, it is sad beyond words to see Britain on her collective knees being beaten up by thugs.