Posts Tagged ‘Occupy Democracy’

Pay Rise, Occupy, Blessed Sacrament & Poor Doors

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Saturday 18th October 2014 was another long and busy day for me. After briefly looking in at Parliament Square, where a few from Occupy Democracy had defied police to spend the night on the pavement I went to the Embankment where thousands were massing for the TUC ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise‘ march which was due to begin in a couple of hours time.

I returned to the TUC march a little later for the Press Call, seldom very interesting events to photograph, and then the start of the march where Frances O’Grady was doing her best for the camera.

Things got a little more interesting as the march filed part me, and towards the end of the 80,000 or so I met rather more people I knew, including those with CND, Focus E15, Occupy London, Class War and other radical groups.

An hour and a quarter after the start the people at the back were getting close to the start of the march, and I went back for another look at things in Parliament Square. Not a lot was happening, apart from some illicit sleeping (its a crime there.)

I went on to Westminster Cathedral, arriving in time to meet the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament leaving to walk to St Georges Cathedral in Southwark, and walking with them across Lambeth Bridge, from where I walked back towards Parliament Square.

I arrived back as more people who had been on the TUC march were arriving, including a group from UK Uncut dancing to a music centre on a shopping trolley. Police and a warden from Westminster Council – who are responsible for the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament came and tried to seize the music centre, but after much argument allowed the to keep it so long as they left the square.

Shortly afterwards others arrived, with a group of anarchists running across the grass with black flags, chased by ‘heritage wardens’, then others poured onto the grass with the two towers with the messages ‘Power’ and ‘Democracy’ they had carried on the TUC march. A rally then took place, gathered around these to protect them, with John McDonnell MP as the first speaker, while police lined the edge of the square watching. Then small groups of police began to gather, ready to charge, and police reinforcements arrived; it seemed only a matter of minutes before they tried to clear the area.

But after Russell Brand arrived to speak, the police rapidly melted away and the many vans drove off. I suspect they knew that had they attacked when he was present there would have been massive media coverage and decided it was better to come back at dead of night after most of the press and TV have left – as they did.

I left to go to Aldgate, where Class War were holding a Poor Doors Saturday Night Special against the separate doors for rich and poor residents at One Commercial St, Aldgate, with a larger than usual group who had come from the nearby Anarchist Book Fair. It was a livelier protest than usual with samba from Rhythms of Revolution and some songs from Cosmo up from Wales for the event, as well as a rather larger than usual police presence.

Inevitably at the end of the protest the group decided to move onto the busy Whitechapel High Street and block it, ignoring orders by the police to leave the highway. It’s a fairly dark area of street and my flash unit was having problems, but I managed to make a few pictures, some by the headlights of the blocked cars. After around ten minutes the protesters decided it was time to leave the road and end the protest, and I went home.

More at:

Poor Doors Saturday Night Special
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Democracy Camp takes the Square


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Occupy Gandhi – 4 May 2015

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

All pictures from Occupy Ghandi – Stop Fossil Fuel Criminals, 4 May 2015

Successive UK governments have legislated in various ways to restrict the right to protest, particularly concentrating on the area of Westminster close to the Houses of Parliament, and the current Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill amends the “Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to expand the “controlled area” around Parliament where certain protest activities are prohibited” as well as creating a new prohibited activity of “obstructing access to the Parliamentary Estate”.

The 2011 Act (which was also amended by the Anti-Social behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014) replaced previous restrictions which had been brought in under SOCPA, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 which the New Labour government had brought in as an attempt to stop the long-term protest in Parliament Square by Brian Haw who had set up his camp there on 2 June 2001 in protest against the effect of economic sanctions which were resulting in child deaths in Iraq.

Haw’s campaign widened into a more general protest against war and became the Parliament Square Peace Campaign, and he was joined by other long term protesters as well as receiving support from many others which enabled him to remain in the square. Various attempts to remove him legally failed and SOCPA was passed in an attempt to stop his protest. But poor drafting led to the eventual failure to achieve this, though Haw had to apply for permission which was granted subject to strict conditions – which he and his supporters failed to adhere to.

Police carried out a major raid in May 2006, removing most of the placards and other material and Haw was taken to court for breach of SOCPA. But after several hearings he was acquitted as the judge found the conditions lacked clarity and were not workable. He was assaulted on numerous occasions by police and by others believed to be working for the security services and arrested again on the day of the State Opening of Parliament for the Tory-LibDem coalition in 2010. But his protest was continued even after he left for cancer treatment in Berlin on New Years Day 2011, by his colleague Barbara Tucker who had joined him in 2005, and stayed in Parliament Square until 2013, despite being denied the use of tent, blankets and eventually even a chair and umbrella in 2012.

The whole grass area of Parliament Square was fenced off and the protest moved onto the pavement in 2011 after Boris Johnson gained a High Court injunction. Early in 2013 more protesters had arrived to support Tucker who had begun a hunger strike in December 2012. She left the square for urgent medical treatment and the Westminster Council removed the tents which supporters had brought there in March 2013, reopening the square for public use in May.

In October 2014, Occupy Democracy arrived to occupy Parliament Square “for 9 days in October, to broadcast and demand the solutions we already know exist, to inspire people to be the active citizens required to take back democracy from powerful economic interests.” They were met by police and private security ‘Heritage Wardens’ (outsourced by the GLA) and signs put up the previous day stating the grass was ‘closed for repair’, and there was considerable harassment with the police seizing anything they thought might be ‘camping equipment’ the occupied the square. The following day, much larger numbers of protesters turned up, including a number of MPs and some celebrities, and after trying hard to stop them, the police melted away and the camp was set up.

Over the following three days there were a number of arrests and police moved protesters off the main grass areas, but the various workshops and activities continued until the whole square was cleared. There had been a number of battles between police and protesters over large squares of blue plastic tarpaulin they had used to sit on the wet grass and mud, and the Democracy Camp had gained the name ‘Tarpaulin Revolution’ (#tarpaulinrevolution).

On May Day 2015, Occupy Democracy returned for a 10 day ‘Festival of Democracy’ in Parliament Square “building a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet!” just a few days before the general election. On Monday 4 May there was a rally and meditation by Occupy Democracy at the statue of Gandhi, noted for his direct action civil disobedince, called for fossil fuel exploration and investment to be made a crime, and defied the ban on tarpaulin and tents in Parliament Square.

After short speeches there was a period of meditation, and the protesters wrapped a blue tarpaulin around the statue. Heritage wardens demanded its removal, and seized it when their request was ignored. Other protesters then stood with another blue tarpaulin, holding it around the statue but taking care not to touch it.

At the end of the mediation, Donnachadh McCarthy who had been leading it announced an act of civil disobedience and pulled a folding tent onto the tarpaulin on the pavement in front of him and erected it. Several people then came and sat inside it, and the protest continued. Police came and told them they were committing an offence and might be arrested if they failed to leave. Shortly after 20 police came and surrounded the tent and arrested those who refused to leave.

Occupy Gandhi – stop fossil fuel criminals
Occupy Festival of Democracy