Today, the Occupy movement and allied groups launch a series of actions and occupations on the first anniversary of the launch of the Indignados movement in Spain, which, along with the revolutionary movements in the Middle East — and Tunisia and Egypt in particular — inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement, which began last September and soon spread across the US and around the world.
In London, where protestors occupied the land outside St. Paul’s Cathedral for over four months until their eviction on February 28, the day’s events will begin at 1 pm outside St. Paul’s, although no attempt will be made to reoccupy the site. Instead, there will be speeches followed by something of a magical mystery tour, as protestors will be led — or directed — to various banks, other financial institutions and lobbying forms, identified on a “Meet the 1%” map, published above. Speaking to the Guardian, Ronan McNern of Occupy London said, “It’s time to hit the financial targets. If we’re evicted, fine, but we’ll come back. There will be comparison with what happened before, but we’re in a different time and a different place.” Please click on the map above to enlarge it, and also on the key to the map, posted below.
As I explained in an article yesterday, since January, Occupy activists, representatives from the Take the Square movement and other groups in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, have been working together on a “Global May Manifesto,” a self-identified “work in progress,” which, yesterday, I described as “hinting at a Universal Declaration of Human Rights for here and now, when we face an existential threat from the unreformed elites who bankrupted us in 2008 and since then have been making us pay.”
McNern described the manifesto as listing “social justice demands ranging from everyone having ‘access to an adequate income for their livelihood,’ to a financial transaction tax and the enforced separation of banks’ retail and investment arms.”
Protests are also planned for May 15, and, in London, will focus on the headquarters of the British Bankers’ Association in the City of London.
Below is an article from the Guardian, written by Naomi Colvin of Occupy London, and for full details of all the planned activities see the “Occupy May” website, where there are also some very informative pages, explaining in greater detail aspects of the ongoing financial crisis and the corruption of the institutions that created it — Bad Apples, Banks, Central Banks, Crisis Profiteers, Financial Services Firms, Government, Hedge Funds, Lobbyists, Rating Agencies, Stock Exchanges and Tax Dodgers.
Spring is finally here and the streets are filling with those demanding change. Last Tuesday, thousands were involved in actions across the US, with Occupy Wall Street standing in solidarity with trades unions, students, community and immigrant workers’ groups, forging a new coalition of collective action.
In London, Occupy crossed an item off the “to do” list by spending an afternoon outside the London Stock Exchange, making good on the original call-out for the 15 October. With that out of the way, the serious fun and games can now begin. The 12 and 15 May mark the two international days of action called to mark the one-year anniversary of the indignados taking to the squares of southern Europe, with actions planned as far afield as Rio and Wellington.
In Europe, Spain’s squares will be occupied once more and Occupy Frankfurt plan to “blockupy” the European Central Bank. Two big events are planned in London: the second will be a day of direct action against the lobbying power of finance on 15 May, with events at the British Bankers’ Association and a Dinner for Democracy that, unlike those cosy private suppers at Downing Street, you won’t have to find a five-figure donation to secure a place at.
On 12 May, this Saturday, Occupy London strikes back as we invite you to the centre of the city to Meet the 1%. You have a pressing interest in doing so, however well you think you know them already. Of all the OECD countries, in the UK inequality has increased fastest over the past 30 years. We’ve seen an increasing concentration of wealth while the burden of taxation has shifted down the income scale. Our economy is disproportionately reliant on a financial services industry. We hear over and over again how finance represents 7% of the UK economy, but manufacturing actually provided twice the oft-mentioned 6.8% of total government tax receipts between 2002 and 2008 — without, of course, requiring the kind of bailout we are all obliged to make good on for the foreseeable future.
The problems Occupy draws attention to are systemic and complex. That’s why Meet the 1% will be a day of education, discussion and creative action that explores the links between different actors and shows where each reside: this is a London you may not see every day, but it’s the one you’re paying for. Getting on first-name terms with the 1% is an essential step towards deciding what to do about them — and finding a solution requires that as many people as possible are involved in the discussion.
Meet the 1% starts at 1pm at St Paul’s churchyard — former site of Occupy LSX and our spiritual home — where Tent City University will be holding a special teach-out to explain just why the 1% are so deserving of our attention. Speakers will be talking about the operations of global finance, the international dimensions of the crisis – including what is happening elsewhere in Europe and beyond to mark this international day of action. Needless to say, we’ll also be taking a good look at the impacts of austerity here in the UK.
With the agenda set, we’ll be distributing our map. This identifies 49 separate targets, located all over central London — all implicated, in some way, with the financial crisis. Our targets range from the notorious to the undeservedly obscure; they include lobbyists, hedge funds and organisations profiteering from the creeping privatisation of the NHS. No longer will they be able to hide in the shadows.
Once the teach-out at St Paul’s is concluded, we’ll be heading off to one of those targets where another event is planned — the next of several to take place over the course of the day. We’re not going to reveal in advance the route we’re going to take, but you will be able to check our latest movements via Twitter: by texting “follow @occupymay” to 86444 you will be able to receive all the latest via text message. We can promise some surprises along the way — and you’re very welcome to bring a tent with you, if you feel like it.
Our map for Meet the 1% is an essential tool for finding your way around on Saturday, but we also see it as a resource to move beyond our own programme of events. We’re deliberately leaving plenty of opportunity for those who attend to determine their own course of action on a more autonomous basis. It doesn’t take much to make a statement. When “urban exploration” is classed as “extremist activity” — as the City of London police did last year — walking the streets you live in can itself become a political act.
Below are Occupy London’s explanations of the motivations for the events on May 12 and May 15:
May 12 begins with a teach-out organised by the Tent City University before we visit those who:
- Gambled with our pensions and savings;
- Created financial nonsense to make money out of thin air;
- Brought the global economy to the brink of ruin and forced ordinary people to pay for their mess;
- Paid hundreds of thousands to wine and dine with our ‘elected’ representatives;
- Have taken more than £1tn in bailouts from the taxpayer and continue to pay themselves exorbitant bonuses;
- Evaded billions in taxes;
- Determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce; and
- Are benefiting by the crisis by grabbing fat privatisation contracts of our public services.
Below is the May 15 statement:
On 15 May it will be one year since the start of the indignados movement, and the fight against bailouts, corruption, repeating economic crises, and financial crimes continues. People are still occupying and protesting to bring about a better world.
This 15 May we will target an institution that has directly contributed to the strengthening of the 1 per cent. We will target an institution that has bought our democracy. One that stands in the way of structural change. The British Bankers’ Association is that target. The BBA symbolises a wider problem in our society: money and private corporations have more influence over our politicians than we do.
The BBA is the lobbying group for finance, the “voice of banking and financial services”. It represents over 200 financial institutions and lobbies your Parliament, buys your politicians, and helps bend national policy in its favour. It tries to make sure things will stay the same.
The BBA, the banks it represents, and the government they stole from us should be considered as targets that day. They are all responsible for this drought of democracy.
As part of Occupy May, 15M will be a day of direct action. We call on all autonomous groups, coalitions, progressive organisations, students, unions, workers, and pensioners to join us on this day. We encourage people to form their own affinity groups, plan their own actions, and converge upon the BBA to end the prioritisation of profit over people.
Be creative! Form your own guerilla theatre group, come in fancy dress, and turn the BBA into something beautiful. Bring glitter, stickers, banners, posters, balloons, and noise makers of all kinds! Guerilla garden — bring seeds and garden in any space available! Foreclose on the BBA! Be ridiculous! Dress as a radical clown and put on a show! Deny them any peace and quiet! Bring drums, instruments, pots, pans, sound systems of all sorts — make your presence known!
No more business as usual. You don’t ask for democracy. You make it!
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
Good luck to OCCUPY LONDON – SOLIDARITY!
We, in Denver, are out on the streets protesting the treatment of the poor in the city, across the state, in the country and across the PLANET
As Denver City and County governments, governments across the state and little Hick, the Lodo boy developer, cut funding for homeless shelters, treatment, soup kitchens, unemployment, and other services (hotlines, abuse treatment, safe houses, drug treatment, etc,) atre City Council with their shiny new salary raises, led by plutocrat’s shill Boss Hancock, are voting next week on making poverty illegal..
THAT’S the answer!!!
They are pushing for an “Urban Camping Ban” (isn’t that cute – they think the homeless are just camping out like we rugged Rocky Mountain types do 24/7/365!)
The plan is to criminalize homelessness in the City of Denver. Kick them out of the City – all 11,000 + pf them – HOW DARE they be seen by the suits! The owners of the high end strips and bad attempts at copying elite neighborhoods of La Jolla, the Brookside, Ward Pkwy and Mission Hills along with the super skyscraping monstrosities downtown just don’t go with poor children huddled with their parents in doorways and allies – Those homeless CLASH.
And clashes have already happened for Boss Hancock has already got Boss White well trained and rousting them already BEFORE the law is even passed.
So, brothers and sisters across the continents – SOLIDARITY
We march together to save a planet from the theft and avarice that will destroy us if we don’t.
Keeping in mind that we are TOGETHER, a movement, joined through our respect for equality of all that proves its strength in its faith in that equality .
NO hierarchy of leadership is needed or wanted
Just as was shouted a fateful day known as “the Everett Massacre” in Washington state, USA
MAY Day, 1916.
When Boss (Sheriff) McRae, sent to confront strikers as they came to the site of protest, stood along side of the dock as the ferry brought the workers to the site, he asked a simple question of the striking “Wobblies” (as the members of the striking workers were called)
“Who is your leader,” asked McRae.
What was returned as an answer was stated in unison as every man aboard shouted, “WE ARE ALL LEADERS”
So OCCUPY, we stand together for we are all leaders here!
Thanks, Jan. And from London, please accept my solidarity with Occupy Denver!
Dani Voluntaryist Taylor wrote:
My best to all of you. . . may your efforts be blessed quickly!!!
Thanks, Dani. I was in London this afternoon, and I’ll be publishing my report and some photos soon.
Aleksey Penskiy wrote:
Andy, I can not be there physically, but mentally I’m with you! The whole world is looking at you now, and you can now choose a path that will develop a civilization. I wish you good luck, God bless you!
Thanks, Aleksey, for the kind words and the support. There’s a lot of thought going into how to take this movement to the next level, which is encouraging. I was particularly interested in the global manifesto issued by Occupy, Take the Square and other collaborators around the world, as a basis for taking things forward.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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