Anti-capitalist protesters set up a second campsite in London’s financial district on Saturday, after a previous site they established a week ago forced St. Paul’s Cathedral to close.
Sarah Saey, a part-time MA student in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths University, said: “I’ve been camping since the first Saturday, although I have slept at home a few times while trying to recover from a cold and also when trying to get back on top of my MA work. I leave my tent there though and sharing it with others, so there is always someone using it.”
She continues: “I think it is potentially part of the beginning of a serious global movement. Now is critical and people need to have faith in the process and stay motivated in the face of criticism and ridicule from the media and others who think it won’t amount to anything. The occupation itself feels different to other protests. The protesters are diverse, inspired, committed and desperate to see real change. The movement feels inclusive of different ideas and beliefs and experiencing real direct democracy in the form of the General Assemblies is fullfiling and empowering.”
Arfah Farooq, 20, a Goldsmiths University student says, “I went down Friday with a friend to have a look and explore it, because I read a lot about it. An emergency meeting had been called, because St. Pauls had made the decision of closing the Cathedral. There was a General Assembly with all the Occupiers, discussing if they ‘should we stay or leave’. Their decision was to stay on.”
“On Saturday, however, there were too many people wanting to go down to the demonstration, so they have opened a new camp in Finsbury Square. Personally, I find it quite exciting like an alternative world, they had a prayer tent, a food tent, and it was exciting to see it.”
A group of protesters marched from St Pauls Cathedral to Finsbury Square on Saturday evening.
Organisers insist that the second site would not replace St Pauls, but was intended to ease the pressure at St Pauls crowded venue.
The protesters, part of a movement called Occupy London, have joined the second camp and are ready to stay for several weeks until Christmas.
They are a freely organized group inspired by the month-old movement that first started in New York City, “against the financial greed and corruption.”
OccupyLSX estimated that hundreds of other protesters would swell the camp for a series of talks and demonstrations, taking the number of protesters outside the Cathedral up to 2,000.
Dean Graeme Knowles of St. Paul’s Cathedral says, “We are delighted that the London protests have been peaceful and indeed there has been a good atmosphere generally between Cathedral staff and those dwelling in the tents around St Paul’s.”
“The decision to close St Paul’s Cathedral is unprecedented in modern times and I have asked the Registrar to implement emergency procedures whereby the building remains closed but fit for purpose until such a time that we can open safely. Our 200 staff and 100 volunteers are also being informed of this decision this afternoon,” Knowles continued.
For the first time since the Second World War, church authorities closed the 17th century cathedral to visitors last Friday due to health and safety risks posed by the number of tents and overnighters.
Goldsmiths University Student Union will be visiting the demonstrations this week.
If any east London residents are planning on attending, please do send us pictures.