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Button Factory raided
April 1st, 2001: Police raid Button factory, Herne Hill in preparation for Mayday 2001

Two hundred police officers in riot gear carried out a dawn raid on the disused Button Factory in Wanless Road, Herne Hill Lane, south east London today. Scotland yard claimed that the building was being used as an anarchist training centre in preparation for 'violent demonstrations' in London on May Day. Anarchists from across Europe were due to gather in the disused factory this weekend for riot training and planning.

The building was empty when the bailiffs executed the early morning warrant after which police were invited in by the owners and a quantity of material removed. The owner, using his own staff and plant machinery, then set about trashing the building to make it uninhabitable.


Sir John Stevens, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, authorised the raid after undercover surveillance of the building by Special Branch detectives uncovered plans by a newly formed anti-capitalist group who call themselves Wombles (White Overall Movement Building Liberation through Effective Struggle).

From the Daily Telegraph's website: "The Wombles, formed last September, are the British arm of the violent Italian anarchist organisation Ya Basta, which hijacked an Italian train last year and tried to drive it to a summit of world leaders in Prague before setting it on fire. Ya Basta has been behind scores of violent demonstrations across the Continent and has adopted what police describe as "sinister paramilitary-style tactics".

"Their distinctive bulky white uniforms inspired the British anarchists to call them Wombles, because of their similarity in appearance to the stars of the 1970s BBC children's show, and later to adopt the name themselves. Despite being named after fluffy television characters, the Wombles form a highly trained and dedicated organisation. Many of the leaders have already been involved in actions abroad".

Urban75 regulars will also know that the Button Factory played host to some fine nights and parties as well as a cafe and will be sorely missed as vibrant local venue.

More: Wombles website
BBC news report

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