Wreckage scars London riot scene

London - Wreckage, shattered glass and debris littered London's Parliament Square on Friday after student protests descended into a violent rampage.

Tourists coming to see the heart of Britain's democracy were instead taking pictures of the damage, and the statues of world leaders daubed with obscene graffiti following Thursday's demonstration over a hike in university tuition fees.

Workmen were busy cleaning up after the onslaught, measuring up the smashed windows, cleaning the iconic red telephone boxes and surveying the sculptures of statesmen like Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Abraham Lincoln.

The iconic statue of World War II British prime minister Churchill, daubed with offensive slogans by demonstrators, stood behind a pile of twisted metal fencing.

On the ground read the message scrawled in paint: "Churchill, common gangster, traitor, killer".

The square's newest statue, of former South African president Mandela, has graffiti on the plinth and a rag tied around the neck.

Homophobic slurs


Former US president Lincoln's statue has an anarchy symbol sprayed on it; that of 19th century prime minister Lord Henry Palmerston holds a placard and was daubed with "General Strike".

Homophobic slurs against British Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg are also evident among the graffiti, as is "First Greece, then Paris, now London! Insurrection!"

At the historic Westminster Abbey, where monarchs have been crowned since 1066, and where Prince William will marry Kate Middleton in April, wrecked sections of metal fencing lie in the grounds.

Members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) organisation had turned up to attempt to clean up the mess around the Churchill statue - at their own initiative.

One EDL activist, who did not give his name, was on his hands and knees with a brush and some turpentine scrubbing away at the graffiti.

"Churchill's a legend. It's disgusting," he said. "He is the best of Britain. This is an insult to our country.

"They (the protesters) are fools. If they're complaining about tuition fees, they should spend that money on getting some history lessons."

Desolate scenes

Elsewhere, the Supreme Court's front windows were smashed in, a tangle of twisted lead and shattered glass after a thug attacked them with a spade as the riots raged hours after lawmakers voted to approve the rise in fees.

On Friday, workers measured up the Treasury windows and began covering them with plywood boards.

Much of the graffiti had been hosed off the historic building, while the southern doors were still daubed with white paint, the wood chipped and scratched.

Below, the three red telephone boxes, familiar from countless tourist photographs with parliament's famous clock tower in the background, were a desolate scene, having had all their windows smashed.

At the foot of Mandela's statue, a group of fine art students from Kingston University in southwest London were preparing to stage an alternative cleaning-up performance to protest against the fees hike.

Armed with brooms, they said they planned to write messages in the debris.

Student Georgina Brinkman, aged 18, said: "We are the ones who are going to have to clean up this mess in the end."

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