Occupy Protests – The Clampdown BeginsNovember 17, 2011
It was only a matter of time.
After nearly two months of occupation by the people of New York as a protest to economic inequality, where the über rich are doing very well and the rest of us are paying for it, the NYPD, at the behest of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, made a surprise sweep of Zuccotti Park in the dead of night. Wearing riot gear, they removed the protesters and dismantled their tents. There were reports of pepper spray being used and a media blackout, as journalists tried to get into the area but were denied access. Police also cleared camps in Oakland, California, and Portland, Oregon. It looks like Blighty will follow suit, as legal action, initially taken by The City of London Corporation against the ‘tent city’ at St. Paul’s Cathedral, has been resumed after talks had broken down regarding the length of time the protesters could stay. Things could soon get very tasty.
I first went to the site of the London protest on Sunday 16th October, the day after their unsuccessful attempt to occupy The London Stock Exchange, resulting in their move to nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral. A radio presenter made a snide comment about how these people protesting about the rich and capitalism are doing it outside a church. How strange, he said.
Not at all.
A church is a place of sanctuary, is it not? The canon chancellor Giles Fraser, who, unlike that muppet, knew exactly what a church represented, allowed them to stay as long as they didn’t interfere with the daily business of the cathedral.
This woman featured on the font page of the Evening Standard the day after I took this pic. Well, they have to sell papers, so they weren’t going to put up a munter as a front-page splash, were they?
All was well until Friday, when St. Paul’s suddenly closed their doors citing ‘health and safety issues’ which were never made clear. I went the following week to see how the protesters had become such a health hazard. The steps were clear, so they weren’t in the way. They remained at the side of the cathedral and they continued to be peaceful. I was confused. Meanwhile, The City of London Corporation and St. Paul’s were looking into the possibility of legal action to evict the protesters. The canon, unhappy that violence could be the result of this action in the name of the church, resigned. And our esteemed Mayor Boris Johnson, without a shred of irony, said: “In the name of God and Mammon, go!” Quite.
By the 31st October, a 48-hour ultimatum to leave was given by Lawyers acting for The City of London Corporation. A second man of the cloth was soon to resign. The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, dean of St Paul’s, stepped down as his position had become ‘untenable’. By teatime on the 1st November, The City of London Corporation and St. Paul’s Cathedral had suspended their action against the protesters. I went down there with my crappy little camera as usual and a bag of food for their kitchen. I then wandered around taking pics and listening to debates. I had never encountered so many disillusioned and angry middle class people in my life. Things are looking bad for them too.
At the time of writing, an eviction notice had been posted on the tents urging the protesters to leave by 6pm tomorrow (UK time), otherwise the legal wheels would be set in motion and the battle of the domes (church, camp and The City) would begin. Will the tent city be gone by 6pm tomorrow? What do you think?!