Several hundred Occupy protesters took to the streets of the City of London on Saturday, calling for an end to “predatory capitalism” after their movement declared a global day of action.
Demonstrators gathered in London’s financial heart as Spain’s linked movement of “indignados” held marches in 80 towns and cities, and Occupy organisers promised protests in cities including Moscow, New York and Athens.
The demonstrators, some waving the movement’s trademark tents or wearing white “V for Vendetta” masks, held banners proclaiming “normal predatory capitalism”, “we expect political democracy” and “shut down the 1 percent”.
They gathered outside St Paul’s Cathedral in spring sunshine for a “teach-out” from a series of speakers before “visiting the 1 percent” in a tour of the City taking in various financial institutions.
James Meadway, senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, told AFP: “This is a good turnout. The issues haven’t gone away. The crisis is getting worse.”
Norwegian student Ragnhild Freng Dale said the main achievement of the movement — galvanised by anger at social inequality in the economic downturn — was to attract people who did not normally see themselves as activists.
“The movement has made a big impact,” she said.
City of London Police said they had a “proportionate” operation in place. Minor skirmishes broke out between protesters and police who briefly encircled the demonstration.
Occupy organisers said in a statement, “Nowhere in Europe in the unequal distribution of wealth as striking as in the UK.
“The richest 1,000 persons, just 0.005 percent of the adult population, increased their wealth by £155 billion over the last three years.
“That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire budget deficit and still leave them with £30 billion to spare.”
Activists linked with the global movement on Friday published a manifesto of “concrete proposals for global change”, demanding “an absolute end to fiscal austerity policies that benefit only a minority”.
Other demands included free healthcare and education worldwide and more use of renewable energy.
Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protesters who pitched tents in New York’s Zuccotti Park last September, protest camps sprang up in dozens of countries worldwide, but the movement has since lost momentum.
In London, an Occupy camp outside St Paul’s was evicted by police in February after four and a half months.