Wednesday, October 19, 2011
In solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street and other “Occupy” protests, activists set up camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Saturday, and they plan to remain indefinitely. The protest thus far has been described as “largely peaceful” by a police spokesman.
On Saturday, an estimated thousand or more people attempted to protest in Paternoster Square, the site of the London Stock Exchange, but were blocked by police enforcing a High Court judgment. Julian Assange from Wikileaks also joined the protest to address the activists. A flag flies over the occupation showing the ‘Anonymous’ logo of a headless man in a black suit.
At around 9:30am Wednesday, many campers were still asleep, but around 30–50 people were listening in solidarity to trade union representatives from the National Shop Stewards Network, while 20 to 30 officers from the City of London police watched on. On the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the speakers spoke about a variety of struggles including strikes by electricians that started in August against Balfour Beatty, one of Britain’s largest construction firms. Solidarity was expressed with the travellers at Dale Farm, and speakers described how the media and others were trying to “divide” workers, students and elderly people. One of the speakers said that while today they are occupying the square in London, “tomorrow we will be occupying universities and colleges” and spoke of the suspension of Vik Chechi, the Unison branch secretary who has been suspended by Queen Mary University. By 9:45am, the trade union talks had finished and the sound system was reactivated and reggae music started playing.
After the talks peter out, activity begins to resume on the site: people sorting out tents and serving food, under signs and banners playfully mixing politics (“The London Stock Exchange: Britain’s Biggest Casino”) with Internet memes (a Reddit cartoon man depicted saying “Y U NO JOIN US?”).