St Paul's protest: Occupy London camp evicted

 
A bailiff is pulled from a makeshift barricade at the Occupy protest camp Some protesters erected a makeshift barricade, but most moved on peacefully

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Police and bailiffs have evicted anti-capitalist protesters and removed tents from the Occupy London camp at St Paul's Cathedral.

The operation, which began just after midnight, was mostly peaceful but there were 20 arrests.

A St Paul's spokesman said: "We regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs."

The City of London Corporation said it "regretted" that it had become necessary to evict the protesters.

Occupy London, which campaigns against corporate greed, set up the camp on 15 October.

The campaigners were refused permission to appeal against a High Court decision to allow their eviction to proceed.

Police have moved in to remove protesters from their camp outside St Paul's Cathedral

The Rev Giles Fraser, who resigned as canon chancellor of St Paul's in support of the protesters, said: "This is a sad day for the Church.

"Riot police clearing the steps of St Paul's Cathedral was a terrible sight."

The St Paul's spokesman said: "In the past few months, we have all been made to re-examine important issues about social and economic justice and the role the cathedral can play.

"We are fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and Institute."

Protesters in the square outside the cathedral stressed their action was far from over, but most did not resist police and bailiffs as they removed tents and other equipment from the site.

A handful defied police by erecting a temporary structure from wooden pallets in the square outside St Paul's but the platform was eventually dismantled.

The High Court decided last week that the City of London Corporation's move to evict the camp was "lawful and justified".

The corporation was granted orders of possession and injunctions by the court.

The Court of Appeal's decision not to allow an appeal meant the corporation was free to clear the site.

ANALYSIS

Before midnight rumours were spreading around the Occupy camp suggesting that the site that has been their home for months was about to be cleared.

But there was little the activists could do when dozens of police and bailiffs arrived at St Paul's with a court order to remove the tents which have become part of the landscape here.

As some of the protesters shouted defiance from the cathedral steps the bailiffs went about their business. The tents which made up the Occupy site were unceremoniously dragged into the back of waiting rubbish lorries.

By this time some of the Occupy campaigners had used pallets and wooden shelving to create a barricade which they climbed on - determined to resist attempts to remove them.

There were shouts and scuffles - but little in the way of violence.

Eventually - after a couple of hours the site was finally cleared.

George Barda, one of the five protesters who appealed against the High Court's decision, told the BBC he had "mixed emotions".

But the 36-year-old said: "It's not the beginning of the end, it's the end of the beginning."

He said the eviction did not spell the end of the protest.

"The corporation made it very clear that they have nothing supposedly against protest, assembly, free speech in this area, just the tents and the bedding that have now been removed," he added.

Following the eviction, Occupy London protesters moved to Salvation Army offices by Millennium Bridge, but City of London Police officers moved them on.

Some of the protesters moved to a disused building in Featherstone Street, Islington, which Occupy protesters had called the School of Ideas.

However, the protesters were evicted and the building was being bulldozed on Tuesday.

Dozens more protesters moved to Finsbury Square, Islington, where a separate Occupy camp has been set up for a number of months.

Fences were put up around St Paul's as a City of London cleaning team began a deep clean of the area.

'Maintain order'

The City of London Corporation said in a statement: "The City of London Corporation has begun to enforce the High Court orders for the removal of the tents and equipment outside St Paul's.

"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.

Occupy protester George Barda believes the group will continue to grow

"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."

A statement from City of London Police said: "At 12.10 tonight, bailiffs employed by the City of London Corporation began enforcing a High Court order for the removal of tents and equipment outside St Paul's Cathedral.

"Officers from the City of London Police supported by Metropolitan Police are present to ensure public safety, maintain order and facilitate lawful protest."

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "I'm glad that finally the law has taken its course.

"My interest is in the economic interest of the city and I want to make sure the businesses in that area can flourish."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 706.

    The camp had to be cleared for the jubillee and the olympics, next clearance willl be the ever increasing homeless, and any one else who is a blot on the landscape of corporate britain. however the issues raised will not go away....

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 665.

    Great news. These people have a right to protest, however, they have no right to cause disruption over an extended period of time. They should have gotten their voice heard (which they did) and then go. They chose not to do that and have now finally suffered the consequences. Lets hope it doesn't take so long next time.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 647.

    Nice to see freedom of speech and the right to protest being upheld by our fine government. The protestors never bothered anyone and the church had allowed them to stay, so why evict them? I wonder if this action would have been taken had they been a pro-capitalist rally? It seems even in a western 'democracy' freedom of speech only extends to those who agree with government policy and ideology.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 630.

    One has the right to protest.
    One does not have a right to make a camping side in the middle of London.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 567.

    There seemed to me to be very little achieved in reality by pitching tents outside of St Pauls other than stimulating discussion about the tawdry activities of our greedy "Haves"- which is a good thing- and kudos to them in the main. No laws changed. The best way to change the law is in the public arena of media by exposure of the greed, public petitions and people with skillful language.

 

Comments 5 of 17

 

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