St Paul’s Cathedral has been accused of “betraying” Occupy London activists after giving the City of London police permission to remove protesters from its steps and end the four-and-a-half month camp.
The cathedral’s decision, coupled with a previous high court decision obtained by the City of London, meant police successfully removed the entire Occupy London Stock Exchange camp from the square outside St Paul’s.
Police said 20 people had been arrested by 4.30am in the “largely peaceful” operation.
Police and bailiffs moved in to begin clearing the Occupy London encampment in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Activists protesting against the financial and banking elite were told by bailiffs that they had five minutes to pack their tents and leave or they would be obstructing a court order.
Dozens of activists started clearing away tents and belongings, but others began building a barricaded enclosure using wooden pallets and debris.
Hundreds of police officers with riot helmets ready by their sides and dozens of bailiffs in yellow vests waited alongside rubbish lorries and watched the eviction. [more]
City of London Police have sparked controversy by producing a brief in which the Occupy London movement is listed under domestic terrorism/extremism threats to City businesses.
The document was given to protesters at their “Bank of Ideas” base on Sun Street – a former site of financial corporation UBS. City police have stepped up an effort to quell the movement since they occupied the building on 18 November, with the document stating: “It is likely that activists aspire to identify other locations to occupy, especially those they identify with capitalism.
“Intelligence suggests that urban explorers are holding a discussion at the Sun Street squat. This may lead to an increase in urban exploration activity at abandoned or high profile sites in the capital.” The Occupy movement is listed alongside threats posed by the (FARC), Al Qaeda and Belarusian terrorists.
“Just the words themselves are enough to deceive the public opinion and this is what we see at the moment,” Occupy spokesman Spyro Van Leemnen told Yahoo! News. “We are clearly nothing to do with extremists or terrorists, we are a peaceful group and we do use direct action to raise our point but definitely not terrorism.
“The building has been abandoned for a good few years now and we think it is crazy for a bank to have it empty and not used when we know at the same time there are so many family homes that have been repossessed. Occupying that building and giving it back to the community is definitely not a terrorist act,” he added.
Commenting on the document, City of London Police said:
“[We] work with the community to deter and detect terrorist activity and crime in the City in a way that has been identified nationally as good practice.
“We’ve seen crime linked to protests in recent weeks, notably around groups entering office buildings, and with that in mind we continue to brief key trusted partners on activity linked to protests.”
The undeserving rich are now in the frame, and the rest of us want our money back.George Monbiot
On OccupyLSX and the global Occupy movement generally:
For a long time British politicians have treated the world of business with something like religious veneration. The last Labour government was always trying to make the public sector more entrepreneurial and consumer-focused. They loved it when management consultants and financiers told them that they had to modernise the state through the ever-greater use of market mechanisms.
Their child-like faith in market forces would have been touching if the consequences hadn’t been so disastrous.
[…] For decades, the advocates of free markets dominated public discussion, but the rest of us are now talking among ourselves. More than that, we are talking in ways that are becoming increasingly audible.
In the coming months, I hope that many more people join this conversation, on their own terms, in ways and in places that seem right to them. Certainly, we have a lot of work to do. But it is surely time we put more faith in each other than in markets. And perhaps we shouldn’t pay too much attention to the ex cathedra pronouncements of the experts and commentators, who have been so plausibly and so confidently wrong.
This moment of direct democracy in the heart of the City of London will not last forever, any more than the occupations in hundreds of other cities around the world will. But while they are happening, if you can, I strongly suggest you visit, chat to one or two people, and perhaps join the discussions, working groups and assemblies.
You will find people talking about things the powerful either don’t understand or desperately want us to ignore. It is particularly important that those with proposals for change make the case for them in the context of the assembly. The assembly outside St Paul’s is a social medium that has considerable potential.
At some point, the occupations will stop, but the conversation is only getting started.
The City of London Corporation and St Paul’s Cathedral will seek injunctions to evict the anti-capitalist protest camp from the grounds of the historic building, as clergy prepared to celebrate its reopening with a lunchtime service.
A statement from St Paul’s, issued moments before it opened its doors to the public after a week’s closure on health and safety grounds, said legal action against the Occupy the London Stock Exchange camp had “regrettably become necessary”.
"The Chapter has previously asked the encampment to leave the cathedral precinct in peace. This has not yet happened and so, following the advice of our lawyers, legal action has regrettably become necessary. The Chapter only takes this step with the greatest reluctance and remains committed to a peaceful solution.
"At each step of the legal process the Chapter will continue to entreat the protesters to agree to a peaceful solution and, if an injunction is granted, will then be able to discuss with the protesters how to reach this solution."
"Theirs is a message that the Chapter has both heard and shares and looks forward to engaging with the protesters to identify how the message may continue to be debated at St Paul’s and acted upon."
The cathedral is still reeling from the departure of its canon chancellor Giles Fraser, who stepped down because he could not sanction the cathedral using force to remove protesters.
After four weeks of focus on Wall Street, the fast-moving campaign against the global banking industry is coming to the UK this weekend, with the biggest event aiming to “occupy” the London Stock Exchange.
Organised by Facebook and Twitter pages which between them have picked up more than 15,000 followers, campaigners are to gather outside St Paul’s Cathedral at midday on Saturday before marching the short distance to Paternoster Square, the business development housing the London Stock Exchange, as well as the UK HQ of investment bank Goldman Sachs.