Violence breaks out at U2 Glastonbury crowd protest

Security guards clash with Art Uncut demonstrators

Violence broke out in the crowd last night (June 24) at U2’s headline performance at Glastonbury, between security guards and a group of audience members protesting about the band’s handling of their finances.

The Art Uncut group had inflated a huge sign in the crowd with the message “U pay tax 2?” on it. They were protesting at the band’s tax affairs, which they called “convoluted”. In 2006 the band moved their business affairs from Ireland to the Netherlands, in a switch some believed was made so they could enjoy tax breaks.

The plan had been for the group to float their sign, which also depicted a bag of money, from an Irish flag to a Dutch one. Sky News reports that as the protestors inflated the sign they were wrestled to the ground by a ten-strong security team, who then deflated it and took it away.

None of the protestors were arrested, although some were reportedly pinned to a fence by the guards. One campaigner accused one of the guards of threatening to hit them.

Festival organiser Michael Eavis said he believes the protest was unfair, pointing out that the band regularly give generous amounts of money to charity.

A spokesman for Glastonbury told NME this morning that the decision was taken by the event’s stewards and not after orders from organisers. They said: “The stewards decided to stop the banner going up, but it was their decision and not under instruction from organisers. They clearly decided the banner could be dangerous and could disrupt people’s view. It was a decision taken on the grounds of health and safety, not on the grounds of censorship.”

NME.COM is coming live from Glastonbury 2011 this weekend – stay tuned to NME.COM/festivals/glastonbury for news reports, reviews and photos from Worthy Farm. Then head back from Monday for backstage video interviews.