Occupy London protesters take over fifth London site

Occupy London protest banner on Roman House Protesters said they "occupied" the building in the early hours

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The Occupy London protest group says it has taken over a fifth site in London.

Up to 20 demonstrators moved into Roman House, on Fore Street, Barbican, in the City of London, in the early hours of Saturday, an Occupy spokesman said.

The "economic justice" campaigners said they planned to "open the building to the public" on Monday.

Berkeley Homes, which owns the empty office block, has asked protesters to leave, saying the building was "not safe for public use".

The firm said the property was being converted into 90 residential flats and the occupation was putting jobs at risk.

An Occupy London spokesman said the group would leave if there was a building contract in place, because to remain and put jobs at risk would be "so against what we are about".

City of London Corporation and police said they were aware of the occupation.

Protest 'misguided'

The 1950s building has been lying empty for the past few years. Protesters said they targeted it because it "previously housed companies from the financial service industries".

Berkeley Homes disputed this claim saying an architecture firm was the previous occupant of the eight-storey building.

The latest move from Occupy comes after the corporation won its High Court case on Wednesday to evict protesters from outside St Paul's Cathedral, where the Occupy London Stock Exchange group set up its tents on 15 October.

Occupy London protesters inside Roman House Berkeley Homes, owner of Roman House, said the building was "not safe for public use"

Since October the protest group has "occupied" Finsbury Square, an empty office building owned by the Swiss bank UBS in Sun Street, east London, and the empty Old Street Magistrates Court.

A statement on Occupy London's website said it had "publicly repossessed Roman House".

It added: "The Occupy London campaigners - part of the global movement for social and economic justice and real democracy - stated that they intend to occupy the building - their fifth occupation - until such time as the City of London Corporation publishes full details of its City cash accounts.

"The City of London Police have visited the building and have agreed that it is a civil matter."

A Berkeley Homes spokesman said: "We urge the protesters to vacate this building site as quickly as possible, as we are very concerned that they are putting both themselves, and members of the public, in real danger.

"It is not safe for public use, there are holes in the floors and we are in the early stages of asbestos removal.

Occupy London protesters inside Roman House City of London Police officers have been at the site since the morning

"The protesters are misguided in their actions which are sadly preventing Berkeley Homes from implementing their planning permission and so providing not only 90 much-needed new homes, but also a significant number of key construction jobs during an economic crisis.

"We are taking legal advice, particularly given the safety concerns, to ensure this potentially dangerous occupation ends quickly."

Occupy supporter Bryn Phillips, 28, dismissed the safety concerns, saying: "There was a log book inside the building and it was completely blank for asbestos.

"And we're only going to be occupying one floor at a time and that would be health and safety checked first."

The protesters plan to open the building to the public on 23 January, which will be the 100th day since they began the London chapter of a global movement against "corporate greed".

The group said it would use the venue to hold lectures and events, beginning with a lecture on the City's "secret finances and lobbying activities".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    This is getting out of hand, these people clearly believe they can do what they like and the word 'occupy' is a cover for breaking and entering and trespass. Its about time the authorities removed these wasters from the landscape and let the law abiding 'majority' get on with their lives. Clearly they have no jobs so must be living off the State if they have all this time on their idle hands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    Some extreme and irrational over-reactions here to a peaceful and positive protest. It clearly makes some people very uncomfortable. However be assured that, even if the protesters did "go home," the issues they raise are not going anywhere.There's a vast storm of political, financial and environmental crises on the horizon. If you can't bear to face that at least keep your pettiness to yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    The recent successful SOPA/PIPA protests show that simple protests still work, you just need a lot of people to get organised. Why do people in this country moan 24/7 about the unfairness of it but not bother to get up and do something about it? We need action, not arm chair moaners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    we need to pay some attention to the protestors as they will represent the adults of tomorrow. we have all amazed at the greed of MPs, bankers, tax dodgers etc but we plod along earning then money and allowing their activities. Perhaps if for once we ALL stopped for 1 day a meesage could be sent, instead of small individual groups operating alone we would be heard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    We know what these protesters don't like. I share many of their dislikes. But what exactly are the alternatives they propose? Change can't be effected simply by adopting a negative posture, no matter how much inconvenience is caused. It's about time the Occupy movement came up with some sensible ideas. Otherwise, they're going to look inceasingly infantile.


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