Following last night's eviction of Occupy London from St Paul's Square, many of the protesters blame the cathedral for colluding with the eviction effort. This past winter, the cathedral was rocked by a series of high-profile departures from clerics who sided with Occupy, and this culminated in the cathedral "pausing" its action against the protests. Writing in The Guardian, James Ball and Ben Quinn describe the accusations that the protesters have levied against the cathedral.
At midnight five spotlights illuminated the square as the standoff continued. At 2am the lights were briefly switched off. When turned on again, four people, believed by protesters to be police officers, were stood on the balcony of the cathedral. Soon after, police revealed to press that they had the cathedral's permission to remove protesters from its steps.
"I was shocked to see policemen on the balcony," said Naomi Colvin, a spokeswoman for Occupy. "It seemed to be collusion. Tammy [another activist] just gave an interview saying how betrayed she felt when she learned the cathedral gave permission for us to be removed from its steps.
"That wasn't covered in the high court orders – it's like St Paul's has learned nothing from the last four months."
The canon chancellor of St Paul's, Giles Fraser, resigned in October over attempts by the cathedral to remove protesters by compulsion. Fraser was on the edge of the eviction, but police refused to let him cross a cordon to get closer to the cathedral.
Occupy London protesters accuse St Paul's of betrayal
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The Occupy London camp at St Paul's Cathedral has lost its legal fight to remain in place. Once the injunction was ordered, bailiffs and officers from the City of London Police (a separate police force directed by the Corporation of the City of London, whose council is elected by the companies in the financial district, with more votes going to larger companies) gave the camp five minutes to vacate.
Judging from the liveblog maintained by The Guardian, it sounds like the procedure was remarkably orderly, with the police and the camp both taking steps to minimize conflict with one another.
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Catherine Brogan, a poet and high-profile member of the Occupy movement, said it made sense for the authorities to come on a Monday night.
"There was talk of prayer rings and of other people coming down to support us when this happened, but many of our supporters are elderly or obviously live in areas other than the centre of London, so this would have caught them by surprise," she said.
"This has always been a peaceful process, and it has never looked like turning into anything other than that," she added. "There's definitely no Molotov cocktails stashed, it is very timid. I just hope the police respect that, and don't react in the way I've seen them reacting at other times, at other protests."
Activists from the camp say they will take their case to the European court of human rights, but judges denied them a stay of eviction, and it is understood that the City of London Corporation, which brought the case against the protest camp, has has now acted to remove up to 100 tents from the grounds of the cathedral.
An Occupy-flavoured gathering of the tribes is underway in London, as Occupiers from across the country converge on London, where an abandoned building belonging to UBS has been liberated for a symposium where they're planning the nation's future.
The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, 70, became the latest high-profile supporter to address protesters on Saturday, on the steps of St Paul's. She said that the global financial crisis was intrinsically linked to the world's ecological travails, and called for people to embrace culture as a means to help wean them "off the drug of consumerism".
Her appearance followed a speech from Alessio Rastani, an independent financial trader, who has warned that "the savings of millions of people are going to vanish" and that investment banks had become more powerful than governments. His warnings were followed by an address from Nicholas Shaxson, the author of Treasure Islands, an investigation into tax havens and offshore banking networks. Occupy's critique of the financial system and its calls for a fairer replacement will continue next week with speeches at the TUC Conference Hall in central London, a sign that unions may be starting to form official alliances with the movement.
Unions are finalising plans for a day of industrial action against public-sector pensions cuts on 30 November.
Tanya Paton of Occupy London said: "Groups are coming together for the first time; the movement is becoming stronger throughout the UK. We are sharing ways to overcome problems and work together to build and define a national campaign."
Occupy UK converges on London
(Image: UBS You Owe US - Occupy London, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from aroberts's photostream) Read the rest
OccupyLondon protesters who attempted to attend services at St Paul's cathedral on Memorial Day were ejected by private security forces who told them they were not welcome at St Paul's as there was royalty in attendance and "other churches will have you lot." Church officials expressed dismay at the news and have vowed to investigate.
"Some St Paul's workers and men in pinstripe suits and ear microphones came over and asked what we were doing. Jim wanted to talk to Canon Michael [Colclough]. I told them I wasn't there as a protester. I took off all my badges. I told them I had come as a member of the public."
She said: "They told me I couldn't be there because I was a member of Occupy London. They couldn't have protesters there. I said I had dead to mourn, and they replied they had royalty in the cathedral."
The 33-year-old, who is Christian, said she approached cathedral staff to ask for help. "What they said is that other churches will have you lot. I'm always in and out of the cathedral. I'm terribly distressed – they are ripping my faith away from me.
Occupy London protesters say they were asked to leave St Paul's services
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Scotland Yard have arrested 179 members of the ultra-right English Defense League for plotting an attack on the OccupyLondon protesters encamped at St Paul's cathedral in London. The EDL had sent a statement to the Occupy camp threatening violence if protesters didn't leave "their" church and "stop violating their religion." EDL members also posted arson threats to Facebook. The police arrested the EDL members as they massed near St Paul's. An EDL spokesman denies that violence was imminent.
Scotland Yard said they believed a breach of the peace was about to take place after they got intelligence that the EDL were planning the Armistice Day attack. The law states officers can arrest if they believe the breach of the peace to be "imminent."
A member of the tented community outside the cathedral expressed gratitude to the police for preventing any violence.
"It is fantastic if they are using their resources to try and stop people getting on to this site," said Bryn Phillips, a member of the Occupy LSX community. "If this has prevented violence then I am pleased."
Police arrest EDL members to 'avert planned attack' in London
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Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary, has asked the OccupyLondon protesters to move away from St Paul's cathedral
so that tourists won't get the wrong idea about the place. Read the rest
The Corporation of London has "paused"
its legal action against the OccupyLondon protesters camped outside of St Paul's Cathedral, in the wake of the Cathedral's decision
to drop legal action altogether. The Corporation assures the public that it still plans to pursue legal action to remove the protests, but just not right now: "We’re hoping to use a pause – probably of days not weeks – to work out a measured solution." Read the rest
Following an earlier signal from the Bishop of London, as well as the resignations of three prominent clerics, St Paul's cathedral has withdrawn from its legal action against the OccupyLondon demonstrators camped around its grounds.
A member of the group responsible for liaison with the cathedral said they had met the Chapter of St Paul's, the church's governing body, at 11am: "We were informed that they will no longer be proceeding with legal action against us." Cue loud cheers and applause.
Another activist then read out the full St Paul's statement to the assembly, which was punctuated with cheers - notably, when Giles Fraser's name was mentioned. News of Ken Costa's involvement was greeted with silence, apart from one man just behind me who muttered: "Yeah, great."
The church liaison committee will meet the St Paul's Chapter again tomorrow, with issues to be discussed including access to the cathedral during busy upcoming events such as Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
That leaves the Corporation of London alone in its mission to evict OccupyLondon. The Corporation is a sinister and eccentric body that runs the "Square Mile" -- the headquarters of Britain's financial industry -- with near-total autonomy, as a kind of special economic zone or a country-within-a-country. Seriously, they make conspiracy nuts look reasonable:
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What is this thing? Ostensibly it's the equivalent of a local council, responsible for a small area of London known as the Square Mile. But, as its website boasts, "among local authorities the City of London is unique".
Richard Chartres, the bishop of London, "is expected
to urge the chapter of St Paul's... to dissociate itself from the legal action [brought by the City of London] to expel the [Occupy London] protesters." Three senior clerics have resigned their postings at St Paul's in protest over the planned use of force to compel protesters to leave the area in front of the cathedral. The Archbishop of Canterbury says, "The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences." Read the rest
Graeme Knowles, the dean of St Paul's Cathedral, has resigned his position over St Paul's plan to evict the OccupyLondon protesters. He joins Giles Fraser, the former canon of St Paul's, who resigned last week, along with Fraser Dyer, the cathedral chaplain.
The Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, the dean of St Paul's, announced he was resigning with immediate effect, saying that the row over the Occupy London site had made his position "untenable".
Dean of St Paul's Cathedral resigns over Occupy London protests
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British Christian groups have vowed to protect the Occupy London tent-city out front of St Paul's cathedral by surrounding it with a "circle of prayer" in the event that the cathedral attempts to evict the protesters.
Christian groups that have publicly sided with the protesters include one of the oldest Christian charities, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the oldest national student organisation, the Student Christian Movement, Christianity Uncut, the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust and the Christian magazine Third Way. In addition, London Catholic Worker, the Society of Sacramental Socialists and Quaker groups have offered their support.
A statement by the groups said: "As Christians, we stand alongside people of all religions who are resisting economic injustice with active nonviolence. The global economic system perpetuates the wealth of the few at the expense of the many. It is based on idolatrous subservience to markets. We cannot worship both God and money."
Bartley said: "There are some very unhappy people within the Church of England. The protesters seem to articulate many of the issues that the church has paid lip-service to. Many people are disillusioned with the position St Paul's has adopted. To evict rather than offer sanctuary is contrary to what many people think the church is all about. The whole thing has been a car crash."
Occupy London could be protected by Christian ring of prayer
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Giles Fraser, a canon at London's St Paul's Cathedral, has resigned his job and given up his church residence in protest of the plan to forcibly evict the Occupy London protesters camped in St Paul's Square.
It may have been that accessibility to the media and willingness to be outspoken, together with his instinctive sympathy for the anti-City protesters setting up camp outside St Paul's, that led him to ask the police to back off when the protest began.
He will also have realised, as some of his colleagues did not, how the cathedral chapter's attempts to close the camp down – and their over-reaction in closing the cathedral – would play in the outside world and how it would make the church appear: scared, cowed, out-of-touch and pro-establishment – the very things he consistently preaches against in sermons and broadcasts.
Giles Fraser: the St Paul's Cathedral cleric who prefers jeans and a T-shirt
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