Occupy London started on 15 October last year—an international day of solidarity with Occupy Wall Street in the US, which began a month earlier.
Thousands of Occupy protests erupted in towns and cities across the world. It was represented on all seven continents.
Its slogan of “We are the 99 percent” struck a chord in a world ravaged by crisis and austerity—and the growing wealth of the “1 percent”.
The movement was inspired by the protests of Tahrir Square in Cairo, and the Indignados’ square occupations in Spain which called the day of action.
In London the camp was originally planned as an occupation of the London Stock Exchange, but police blocked it.
So people set up camp outside St Paul’s, with the backing of then canon Giles Fraser.
Occupy camps in Britain began at a time when working class resistance to the Tories’ austerity assault was rising.
Occupy London began just six weeks before the 2.6 million strong public sector strike on 30 November.
The camp’s founding statement declared solidarity with the workers.
Occupiers toured picket lines. And groups of workers marched to St Paul’s, including the electricians (see page 16).
Hundreds camped, but thousands more would regularly visit and participate. The camp became a focus for a rising tide of anger against the ruling class.
Huge crowds would gather to see speakers like Tony Benn.
There were limitations to how Occupy was organised. But its message of opposition to poverty and inequality inspired many people who want to change the world.
Dani, who spoke to Socialist Worker soon after the St Paul’s camp was set up, summed it up.
“You sometimes feel like the only one,” she said, “then you come here and see there’s thousands of us.”
The mainstream media might sneer that Occupy never achieved anything—but that misses the point.
Occupy was a forum where ideas could be shared.
Campaigners, anarchists, revolutionaries, Labour activists, rank and file trade unionists and religious people could take part in discussions and protests.
Occupy London showed—and continues to show—just how sick so many people are with this rotten system.
It also showed the wealth of ideas for an alternative.
To follow the latest from Occupy London visit www.occupylsx.org or follow @occupylsx on Twitter