Occupy London, May 12: Photos from St. Paul’s Cathedral Protest

13.5.12

The weather couldn’t have been better in London yesterday for the day of action organised as part of the “Global Spring,” an initiative by activists from the Occupy movement, representatives from Take the Square, and other groups in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, who have been planning events worldwide for today and May 15, the first anniversary of the start of the indignados movement in Spain. Click on the photo to enlarge.

I arrived at St. Paul’s Cathedral shortly after the advertised 1 o’clock start, to find St. Paul’s Churchyard, which was occupied from October 15 until its eviction on February 28, thronged with Socialists, utopians, dreamers, idealists, visionaries and anarchists — from the UK and from across Europe and around the world — filling the square, as speakers addressed the world’s ills, and the need for fundamental systemic change.

Some have argued that the Occupy movement has posed questions but has proposed few answers about how to effect change, but I think that rather misses the point. An unwillingness to be co-opted by the political mainstream, and an effort to make communal decisions, rather than trusting to charismatic leaders, was a bold and sensible way to begin, and, as has been revealed in the last few days, the “Global May Manifesto,” a work-in-progress produced over the last four months by activists from all round the world  looks, as I noted yesterday, like a first attempt to create a Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the times we find ourselves in — not the post-World War II community of idealists concerned to make sure that genocide and torture were outlawed (although that, sadly, still remains horribly relevant), but the 99 percent and the indignados faced with governments that serve only the interests of the very rich, whose criminal plunder is essentially unchecked.

Below are photos that I took yesterday outside St. Paul’s Cathedral, and I also took the photo above. I’m happy for readers to use them, although if you do, please credit me, and provide a link to this website. Later I’ll post photos from outside the Bank of England, where the protest moved afterwards, via Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, RBS, Santander and Deloitte, on a tour of the headquarters of corporate conspirators in the global crash, who continue to profit at the expense of the 99 percent. I left there shortly after 4 pm, when the Met’s thugs, the Territorial Suport Group, with their incongruous sky-blue caps, had just turned up. Several hours later, dedicated protestors, who had put up tents, were removed from the steps of the Royal Exchange, and at least 12 activists were arrested after being kettled.

As the Guardian explained, Occupy activists claimed that some of the police officers “had used ‘aggressive’ force as they attempted to move protesters from the area outside the banking institution.” One of the protesters, Matt Varnham, said, ‘Police have been diving in to where people were standing en masse. They were pushing people and being very aggressive. It’s been very violent.” By the end of Saturday’s event, the majority of police officers had apparently left the area, although some of the protesters were still present.

In Spain, meanwhile, tens of thousands of people gathered in more than 80 cities and towns, a year after huge crowds of indignados camped out in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square. Since then, as Reuters explained, “Unemployment has soared to over 24 percent, over half the country’s youth is out of work, the economy has dipped back into recession and one of its largest banks has been nationalised. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government has passed painful austerity measures that have hit once-sacred public health and education spending in an effort to appease international markets and avoid a Greek-style bailout.” Gloria Bravo, a 48-year old civil servant, explained why she was demonstrating.”We have to stand up and say enough is enough!” she said. “They pull our hair telling us we’re lazy so they can dismantle social welfare and take away health and education and now they’re bailing out the bankers.”

Worldwide, protests took place in at least 60 cities, in Europe, Russia, the US and South America.

Campaigners at the Occupy protest in London on May 12, 2012, as part of a global day of action against the governments, bankers and corporations that continue to profit at the expense of the 99 percent, despite having caused the global economic crash of 2008 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

A floating tent, with helium balloons, at the Occupy protest in London on May 12, 2012, as part of a global day of action against the governments, bankers and corporations that continue to profit at the expense of the 99 percent, despite having caused the global economic crash of 2008 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

A campaigner at the Occupy protest in London on May 12, 2012, as part of a global day of action against the governments, bankers and corporations that continue to profit at the expense of the 99 percent, despite having caused the global economic crash of 2008 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campaigners at the Occupy protest in London on May 12, 2012, as part of a global day of action against the governments, bankers and corporations that continue to profit at the expense of the 99 percent, despite having caused the global economic crash of 2008 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A campaigner at the Occupy protest in London on May 12, 2012, as part of a global day of action against the governments, bankers and corporations that continue to profit at the expense of the 99 percent, despite having caused the global economic crash of 2008 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

8 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Jeannie Wells wrote:

    This action is very laudable, but where does it go? Just read Nick Cohen in the Observer – our tweets, mailings and posts could also end it for all those campaigning for freedom – I wonder if we are just leaving a big hole, by our lack of coherent political alternatives, for the far right to move into.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Hi Jeannie,
    I saw your comment earlier, and quickly looked at Nick Cohen’s article, and then went out for the day – lovely weather, lunch with family and friends, then cycling to and around a beautiful park – but your doubts were rattling around in my mind. In general, even the mention of Nick Cohen slightly disturbs me, as he’s such a weird mix of perception and bigotry, but this week’s column is indeed quite interesting: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/13/nick-cohen-democracy-russia
    As for where the protests go, I don’t honestly know. Disappointment was my first feeling yesterday at St. Paul’s, when I compared yesterday’s crowd with the huge gathering on October 15 last year, and I figured that the authorities were going to be happy that Occupy looked to be fizzling out. But in fact, I think that although the first phase – the occupation of public spaces – was crushed, the dissatisfaction is still as prevalent. How could it not be, when you look around at what austerity means, but how the very rich are still laughing and untouched? I agree that right-wingers are capitalising on the dissatisfaction, but left-wing parties are also benefiting in some countries, and elsewhere, like the UK, where socialism has almost been exterminated it will take time for a new version – relevant and not tied down with tired old baggage – to take root. I do, however, think there’s movement in the right direction …

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Beebs Tweet wrote about the “Occupy” picture at the top:

    Great shot Andy. Its on my timeline along with the link.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Beebs. Looks great!

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Jeannie Wells wrote:

    For the first time in 40 years, I look around and see nobody to vote for as a political leader on the Left. I can’t express how thankful I would be if I was wrong, that there really is someone out there who is legal, decent, honest and truthful, to lead a way through this mire. I am indebted to individuals like you who continue tirelessly to shine a light on the road for which, as ever, I thank you.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jeannie. I agree, for the most part. I think Ed Miliband is better than his party, but his party is wedded to its pro-business model, which isn’t very different from the Tories (and now, it is confirmed, the Lib Dems). Almost all MPs are out of touch, insulated from normal life, and part of a minority whose self-interest involves significant materialism, investments and returns via the corrupt banking world, and the belief in an entitlement to significant and protected pensions. They’re not the 1 percent; they’re more the 10 percent, but their needs are much more significant to them than ours are, and unless any of them start thinking about all of us, then our potential for engagement in mainstream politics would seem to be doomed. I genuinely do think we need a new political movement, but of course, at present, it’s almost impossible to see how that could possibly arise, given how unaware and self-absorbed far too many people are.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich wrote:

    Beautiful. Thanks.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Soraya. Good to hear from you.

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