EVICTION OF OCCUPY LONDON February 29, 2012Posted by wmmbb in Democracy, Human Rights, Peace, Social Environment.
Why is it that democratic governments at all levels do not facilitate debate and protest?
Governments choose, more often than not, to ignore public demonstrations and protests, the traditional form of political participation. The most egregious example of ignoring world-wide marches occurred prior to the invasion of Iraq. The business of government is something for the insiders, and perhaps the expert publics, to engage in. It is no longer the question of asking the elector where does the shoe hurt, but we do not care whether you are wearing shoes or not, especially if the topic is not covered by the media. The classic case, admittedly from the US, when the human cost of the foreclosure crisis has to my knowledge been ignored.
In this mass media-political environment, the Occupy movement has been able to cut through into the political conversation, and to change the terms of the dialogue. At the same time Occupy sites have proven easy pickings for co-ordinated State repression. The underclass within any society is mostly invisible.
James Ball and Ben Quinn reported for The Guardian:
Among those protesters was Jonathan Bartley, director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia, who claimed he was kicked repeatedly by police and dragged away from the cathedral.
“What happened is a great sadness – it is exactly as Giles Fraser warned might happen,” he said.
“The tragedy is that while Christians were praying on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, the cathedral gave permission for them to be forcibly and violently removed. The cathedral has backed and colluded in this eviction.”
By 4am, no protesters or camping equipment remained in the square.
No one from St Paul’s Cathedral was available to comment.
A City of London statement said: “We regret that it has come to this, but the high court judgment speaks for itself, and the court of appeal has confirmed that judgment. High court enforcement officers employed by the City of London Corporation are undertaking the removal with the police present to ensure public safety and maintain order. We would ask protesters to move on peaceably.
“The City of London Corporation is ensuring vulnerable people are being helped and supported to find appropriate accommodation in partnership with Broadway, a charity for the homeless.”
An Occupy London spokesperson said its School of Ideas in a disused school building in Islington, north London, had also been evicted.
Supporter Kai Wargalla, a 27-year-old student from Germany who has been camping at St Paul’s since the occupation began on 15 October, said: “It’s really sad what’s happening today but I think we can be proud of what we’ve achieved. Our community is being attacked here, but we’re going to reconvene and come back stronger.”
Wargalla, one of several trained “legal observers” who were monitoring the eviction on behalf of campaigners and reminding them of their rights, said many of the campers planned to go to one of the group’s other sites in Finsbury Square instead, and extra tents would be put up following the unexpected eviction from the School of Ideas.
“We hadn’t expected to be evicted from the cathedral steps because previously the church has said it would give us sanctuary when there’s a violent eviction,” she said.
The medieval notion of the church providing sanctuary is interesting as a reflection of the residual of an alien culture, but the failure of the authorities and the law to recognize fundamental democratic rights is more relevant. Nonetheless in the absence of faith and charity, hope apparently remains undaunted:
- St Paul’s eviction a sad day, says clergyman who quit (independent.co.uk)
- Occupy London says St Paul’s Cathedral colluded with eviction effort (boingboing.net)
- Occupy London: the eviction and the backlash (newstatesman.com)
- Evicted St Paul’s protesters remain defiant (independent.co.uk)
- Occupy London eviction: in pictures (newstatesman.com)
- National News: St Paul’s eviction a ‘sad day’ (coventrytelegraph.net)
- Occupying or Not, London Protesters Say the Movement Will Continue (newsfeed.time.com)