#OccupyLSX protesters gather at St. Paul's Cathedral - Day One, 15.10.2011
As part of the newly-emerging global "Occupy" movement which has seen a continuous occupation of Liberty Park near Wall Street in New York, and which today saw protests in approximately 950 cities worldwide against the corruption of both bankers and governments, around 4-5,000 activists - having been blocked by police from their original objective, Paternoster Square which leads to the London Stock Exchange - converged on the front steps of St. Paul's Cathedral in the City of London to begin an occupation which. it is hoped, will oblige the financiers and bankers to realise that there are real people being grievously punished for the unpunished crimes of the banking industry which have resulted in crashing world economies and swingeing 'austerity measures' which are only paid for by the poor and middle classes. In the meanwhile the entire country has been treated to the disgraceful sight of the very people who caused this unmitigated shitstorm of greed, dishonesty and arrogance having the audacity to reward themselves with millions of pounds in bonuses, despite almost bringing the world economy to its knees.
Throughout the day the completely peaceful protesters discussed their grievances and through a series of open Spanish-style 'congresses' or 'people's assemblies' formulated a series of propositions which form the basis of the mass protest.
During the afternoon the crowd was joined by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who arrived wearing the obligatory Guy Fawkes mask made famous in the cult film "V for Vendetta", which is worn by members of hacktivist group Anonymous. Assange, wearing an electronic tag on his leg imposed by the British court as he is under house arrest awaiting deportation to Sweden - was accompanied by two police detectives, one of whom frequently made a point of holding Assange's shoulder, as if they thought for one second that one of the most identifiable faces in the world right now would ever be able to make a run for it, surrounded completely by a cordon of upwards of 3-400 police.
The only mindless, vindictive violence came from some members of the Territorial Support Group who were militaristic in their brutality towards completely passive citizens when they decided to rush the steps of the cathedral once darkness fell, during which assault they stamped on people's heads and bodies, punched and kicked several people and were seen to rip the hijab off one girl's head. All of this was to prove or gain nothing whatsoever strategically except the ability of the police to be - in my opinion as I watched it from very close quarters - criminally, dangerously violent to passive, peaceful protesters who no longer, it seems, are protected from violence by the agents of the State. When the police commit violence everyone - especially the police - knows it is very difficult to go after them to demand legal justice.
Several hours later the police abandoned the steps at the request of Cathedral officials, leaving everyone to wonder what was the primary motive of the senior officer who gave the order to lead this attack on private land when no crime had been committed. This was Abuse of Process in many people's opinion.
All photos © 2011 Pete Riches
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