Police armed with machine guns raided a Kurdish tent at the Occupy protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral tonight, Thursday.
Protesters quickly gathered around the tent to support those inside. Evahi Emanon was one of them. He told Socialist Worker, “This is a peaceful protest – guns are a bit over the top. They’re trying to find an excuse to clear us out.”
One officer said police were “responding to a call” and that the “threat warranted a police armed response”.
Kurdish protesters held up flags of Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, during the search.
After more than half an hour of searching the tent, police left having found nothing. Deniz Cetiner is a student and one of those in the Kurdish tent.
“In Turkey we live with this kind of operation every day,” he told Socialist Worker. “It’s not new to us. They said there could be a gun inside here – but they found nothing.
“We’re here because we are against the capitalists.”
Earlier in the evening, trade unionists from different unions came to the occupation to take part in an event called “Your Workplace”.
Occupiers had taken this initiative in order to link their protest with workers’ struggles, share experiences and discuss future action.
Teachers, a health and safety rep, an electrician, a health worker and lecturers all spoke at the event.
Mark Campbell from the UCU lecturers’ union announced that rank and file trade unionists had launched a statement supporting the occupation. “We support the occupation of St Paul’s,” he told the crowd.
“We want thousands, if not tens of thousands, to sign our statement. We are with you.”
Workers who spoke of taking action themselves won the biggest cheers. Ian, an electrician from the Unite union, described the militant protests electricians have held over the past few months.
He said, “We’ve had protests week on week and they are getting bigger. We’ve had public sector workers, private sector workers, students and occupy people joining us.
“The rank and file have driven this and because of that Unite has now called a strike ballot.”
To cheers he added, “We’ll be out on strike on 7 December and we’ll stay out until we win.”
Jean from Tower Hamlets Unison union told protesters, “The bosses fear this camp because it is collective. They fear unions because they take action collectively.
“The working class is a sleeping giant. The bosses fear you because you might wake the sleeping giant – and that’s what we must do.”
And new people are still joining the occupation. Norman Opie was there for the first time this evening. He told Socialist Worker, “Things like this can make a difference. I think this is just the beginning of a bigger movement.”
To sign the statement supporting the occupation go to http://www.petitiononline.com/tulsx/petition.html