The New Occupy: St Paul's scene of renewed protest

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Two women stand outside St Paul's during the first Occupy protest.
Two women stand outside St Paul's during the first Occupy protest.

Four women chained themselves to the pulpit of St Paul's cathedral during evensong yesterday, as activists brought the spirit of the Occupy movement back to the area, almost a year after it first set up camp.

Occupy had been invited to read a prayer at the service, but the attempt at reconciliation between church and demonstrators fell apart when four women, dressed in white, chained themselves to the pulpit and shouted their own sermon.

"In the fight for economic justice Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, but you invited them in and instead evicted us," one activist was reported to have shouted.

"Your collusion with the City of London Corporation led to our violent eviction on your doorstep. You testified against us which acted to uphold injustice and inequality that is growing by the day. St Paul's Cathedral you must stand up and be counted at this great trial of history."


 

The move appears to have been made without the knowledge of Occupy Faith, which had worked with the cathedral to arrange the prayer invitation. Outside the cathedral, campaigners from Christianity Uncut unfurled a banner in support.

City of London police arrived soon afterwards, but staff told them they were happy for the women to remain while reverend David Ison read a sermon to a "captive audience", as he described them.

The sermon saw the reverend argue that tribalism would not help in the fight against poverty.

The women eventually cut themselves free after police entered and threatened them with arrest, according to Occupy sources.

The protests is a reminder of the deep scars left over from the months-long encampment by St Paul's, when thousands of Occupy demonstrators protested against inequality in an improvised reaction to the financial crisis.

The event rocked the church's sense of moral purpose more than those of the City of London and triggered a spate of resignations at the top of the organisation. Many protesters accuse church authorities or turning a blind eye when police evicted them from the area.

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