We started off with just a little gazebo to mark our territory, a roof no more to show that some of the local anti-cuts groups were willing to be present and part of this whole occupation movement that is sweeping the US and the UK. We know not everyone is entirely optimistic that this will be the thing that sparks off a mass movement to stop the utter destruction of the welfare state in order to fund welfare for banks, but something must.
So on Tuesday some folks from Lambeth and Lewisham headed over. We were all working the next day — a reality that makes it difficult to camp out over night, we know. So we didn’t. But we did put up a small gazebo…I fear that it collapsed during the night as I overhead a snide comment the next day, and saw it had been moved to shelter one of the organizational working groups at the occupation (we had offered it for that, so we didn’t mind).
Despite the highly artistic nature of the pictures (the word artistic is preferred to technically challenged), the world is not actually on fire and we are actually solid human beings. We hurried so we could attend the General Assembly at 7 pm. It’s a bit like stumbling into a different world really, the way people speak, the arguments about process. Given that the camp is new, it was entirely logistical I’m afraid. But there is really a delightful feel about the place, there is food and drink, and the technical meeting will have been moved to the mornings so that the evenings can be full of exciting and heated political discussion which we imagine will be exciting to everyone, activist or not. Why are people there? What do we want to achieve? How can we work together? How can we engage more people? We hope that these will be the kinds of debates happening in the days to come.
So last night we returned with a truly splendid gazebo which for now shall remain un-pictured…but it has sides that zip open and closed, and is beautifully waterproof. The goal is to have a space where folks from Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark can just drop by, hang out, talk to people, get support to save our services. We’d love to maybe have some meetings there, invite the other London anti-cuts groups, engage with this wider movement, play some music or cards or charades. We’d also love to have a rotation of people who can stay, or perhaps plan a Friday or Saturday slumber party…
The blog for the Finsbury Square occupation is here, and you can follow them on twitter and facebook. There’s also a new independant newspaper just started up for the occupy movement, very awesome, you can follow them here. Some pictures from Indymedia are here, and of course you can also read more at the Guardian or the BBC. The second two articles are focused primarily on St Paul’s and its reasons for closing. On a very personal aside, I find that quite ridiculous. The church I was raised with would have opened its doors to the protestors actually, the way it did to refugees as part of the Sanctuary movement, but I suppose everyone interprets giving up your possessions and taking care of others in their own way.
Just a last note, the police are definitely present, but it’s been relatively relaxed as they wander around in pairs…of course, they’re squandering a great deal of resources in surveilling everything, using thermal imaging and helicopters like they don’t have crime to fight! But there’s been no rubber bullets or teargas like Oakland. It’s not a small point that much of this is simply to ensure the UK does not go the way of poverty and repression found in the US.