This is a first-hand account of what’s been happening at the Occupy Democracy rally in Parliament Square, London, as posted on the indyrikki blog yesterday. The article provides a large amount of background detail on the event and its progression but Vox Political is going to cut to the police involvement. For a fuller picture, please visit indyrikki’s blog.
The ridiculously named “Heritage Wardens”, who patrol Parliament and Trafalgar Squares, were busy pointing out infringements of the Bye-Laws. These rules were passed in 2012, shortly after the Occupy Camp was evicted from St Paul’s… and they prevent all manner of public behaviour that might be associated with protest and especially occupation, also giving the immediate power of seizure without having to bother with legal impediments such as courts and judges.
A sleazy reporter from the Daily Mail, who seemed to have close ties with the authorities, told me that the Superintendent (“a lovely chap”) wasn’t going to mess around, and would make it “short and sweet”, and sure enough, the disruption and harassment began.
First, a couple of units of TSG moved in and surrounded the blue tarpaulin that was being used to keep extremist bums dry on the grass. But despite the intimidation and police numbers, people linked arms and chanted (see vid below), and the tarp remained in place.
Next, the Super sent in a highly-trained ‘bunting snatch squad’ comprised of Heritage Wardens and police.
Another snatch squad unceremoniously pulled down the delicate towers and hauled them away. A small ‘safer spaces’ display board was wrestled away from an occupier, with thuggish police committing several assaults as they withdrew with their booty, and finally the small sound system was removed, again with brute force against peaceful but enraged members of the public.
As darkness fell, a massive police cordon formed near the edges of the grass, and anyone arriving was informed that the park had been closed at 7pm, and that people were not allowed in under Section 1 of PRASRA, which was of course nonsense, as it was actually under bye-laws, and by then they’d run out of copies of the bye-laws (which they are required to show when enforcing).
“You can’t stop an idea” is a familiar truism of the Occupy and Anonymous movements, and last night was an astonishing and beautiful example, as occupiers carried on their talks, music and assembly despite interruptions, and later in the night, their solicitors caused the police to back down and allow people to enter the square until the GLA could show that their sudden “closure” was in any way lawful.
Some brave folk stayed again through a second night, with little opportunity to sleep, any attempt to pitch a tent triggering immediate attack and seizure.
Despite all this petty repression, the Occupy Democracy timetable of events is planned to continue, with fabulous speakers and events connecting many ideas, movements and people throughout the next week, in the safe knowledge that they are ruffling the feathers of the corrupt and powerful.
If a couple of hundred activists can cause so much panic, imagine what two thousand, or two million could achieve.
UPDATE 19th OCTOBER – Battle of the Tarpaulin – Part Two
As darkness fell this evening, 140 police officers entered the square and, assaulting people (with reports of dragging folk by their heads and use of pressure points), they snatched the four tarpaulins. They also trampled over peoples’ belongings and especially food and drink, causing a mess. Occupiers are beginning to use the hashtag #tarpaulinrevolution, and are asking people to come to the square bringing tarpaulins or umbrellas. Any donations of waterproof trousers or tarpaulins that could be cut up and wrapped round waists greatly appreciated.
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