Occupy: Watch out for us this summer

A worker erects a fence near Saint Paul's after police and bailiffs evicted protesters.
A worker erects a fence near Saint Paul's after police and bailiffs evicted protesters.

By Ian Dunt

Occupy protesters promised to return with "ambitious" plans this morning, after being evicted from their St Paul's site in the dead of night by police.

The camp, which has acted as a focus for radical protest against the City of London and the financial sector, was dismantled peacefully for the most part, although there were 20 arrests.

Issuing a statement through their press team, the Occupy movement promised to return in the summer.

"It is only right that people will need time to rest, reflect and recharge, to take stock and learn the lessons of the past four and a half months," they said.

"But be assured that plans are already afoot: plans of some ambition, employing a diversity of tactics and delivered with the aplomb you would expect from us.

"All will be revealed in time. May is one of our favourite months."

They added: "This is only the beginning."

Following the eviction, many Occupy protesters moved to Salvation Army offices by Millennium Bridge, but City of London police moved them on.

Others travelled to the disused building on Featherstone Street where activists have created a 'School of Ideas', although the protesters were evicted from that location as well ahead of a demolition this morning. Campaigners said the move was illegitimate given their case was still making its way through the court system.

Others moved to Finsbury Square in Islington, where a separate Occupy camp had been set up for a number of months.

In the short term, activists are returning to the steps of St Paul's Cathedral for a general meeting this evening to discuss what happens next.

"We regret that it has come to this but the high court judgment speaks for itself and the court of appeal has confirmed that judgment," the City of London Corporation said in a statement.

"High court enforcement officers employed by the City of London Corporation are undertaking the removal with the police present to ensure public safety and maintain order.

"We would ask protesters to move on peaceably.

"The City of London Corporation is ensuring vulnerable people are being helped and supported to find appropriate accommodation in partnership with Broadway, a charity for the homeless."

Some campaigners complained that St Paul's had cooperated with police and the City of London in the eviction, despite promises to the contrary.

The court ruling only applied to tents around the side of St Paul's, not the steps of the cathedral itself.

Some even complained that the cathedral allowed police to forcibly remove Christians praying on the steps of the cathedral during the eviction.

Giles Fraser, who resigned as canon chancellor of St Paul's over the protest, tweeted: "Really proud of the way Occupy conducted themselves last night."

The operation to remove protesters began just after midnight and lasted until around 04:00 GMT.

Most left peacefully, although a small group set up wooden barricades which were eventually dismantled.

"At 12.10 tonight, bailiffs employed by the City of London Corporation began enforcing a High Court order for the removal of tents and equipment outside St Paul's Cathedral," the City of London police said.

"Officers from the City of London police supported by Metropolitan police are present to ensure public safety, maintain order and facilitate lawful protest."

The Occupy movement is a worldwide phenomenon, partly inspired by the protests on Tahrir Square, Cairo, and the Indignants movement in Puerta del Sol, Madrid. It has large followings in most European capitals and major urban centres in North America.

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