Canon of St. Paul’s protects Occupy London, tells police to move on
The British counterpart of Occupy Wall Street has found a welcome in the church square of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is located near the London Stock Exchange.
On Saturday, the protesters had tried to set up camp in a privately-owned square just outside the Stock Exchange but had been driven away by police. They then moved to the church square, where up to 3000 people protested on Saturday and some 250 camped overnight.
As of Sunday morning, about 100 tents could be seen at the foot of the cathedral’s steps. There the protesters have found a protector in the person of the Rev. Dr. Giles Fraser, canon chancellor of the cathedral, who emphasizes that although he does not specifically back the occupation, he believes that people should be allowed to “exercise their right to protest peacefully.”
“This morning early there was a line of police who were kindly trying to protect the Cathedral,” Fraser explained, “but I thought that was unnecessary, so we brought them down and there’s been no damage to the Cathedral and it’s been a very peaceful protest as far as I’ve seen.”
Following the canon’s intervention, “police appeared relaxed, keeping a visible but low-key presence, and chatting and mingling with protesters.” This was in sharp contrast with the situation on Saturday, when there were several arrests and protesters complaimed about being “kettled, grabbed and thrown off the steps forcefully.”
The encampment now has all the necessities for a proper Occupy movement, including a field kitchen, a first aid station, and a generator-powered media area. They even have something that Occupy Wall Street itself badly lacks — a line of seven porta-potties.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Rev. Fraser remarks. “We’re taking one day at a time and it’s really good it’s all worked out well for us today.”
Photo by Javi Vte Rejas, posted at Flickr.