Socialist Worker

Occupy London camp defiant over eviction threat

Issue No. 2275

Martin Smith of Unite Against Fascism addresses the general assembly on Sunday afternoon (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Martin Smith of Unite Against Fascism addresses the general assembly on Sunday afternoon (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The row over attempts to remove London's main Occupy camp intensified as the dean of St Paul's, Graeme Knowles, resigned on Monday afternoon. The Occupy the Stock Exchange camp outside St Paul's Cathedral is still going strong, but now faces legal proceedings to evict it.

There are about 150 tents. A sizeable population is permanently based there. Press stories that it was deserted at night have since proved to be lies. Many more come to show support and take part in discussions through in the daytime.

The camp is run by teams of volunteers who arrange everything from recycling to a library. Twice a day a general assembly meets to debate what needs to be done.

Chris is a student at London South Bank University and is part of the camp's night watch. He told Socialist Worker, 'This is an outburst of anger at the system. It’s very broad, from anarchists and socialists to social democrats and even some people you could describe as conservative.'

The camp has launched its own paper, The Occupied Times, which promises to reflect the diverse range of opinions in the camp. One article states, 'Everyone within the movement agrees on at least one thing: the system as it is cannot go on.'

Dave works right by the camp. He said, 'Despite what the media says the camp has not really affected us, but came down because I wanted to see what people have to say. I share the frustration.'

More than 1,000 people attended a 'Sermon on the steps' of St Paul’s Cathedral to show support the camp on Saturday afternoon.

The canon chancellor of St Paul's, Giles Fraser, and the Rev Fraser Dyer, a chaplain at the cathedral, have stepped down over the decision to take legal action to remove the camp.

The Corporation of London was due to start eviction proceedings on Tuesday, demanding that the camp is removed in the following 48 hours.

The bishop of London Richard Chartres and the Dean of St Paul's Graeme Knowles came and talked with protesters on Sunday morning. But Chartres is still supporting moves to get it removed. He said, 'I don't myself subscribe to the idea that it's instantly going to lead to violent confrontations.' But he was worried that 'the camp could be taken over by people who are very different from the ones who are in charge at the moment'.

Jay, from New Cross in south London, who visited on Sunday, said, 'The media has been quite negative, but this is important. I came down to judge for myself. I appreciate what people here are trying to do.'

Martin Smith from Unite Against Fascism spoke at the site's tent university on Sunday afternoon and later addressed the general assembly. He was invited after threats to the camp from the thugs of racist English Defence League.

The St Paul's Institute was due to publish an apparently hostile report on City pay last Thursday—the day Fraser resigned. Now its publication has been indefinitely postponed.

The way the upper ranks of the church have closed ranks only emphasises the importance of not relying on the establishment for reform and keeping up support for the camp.

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