Sunday 16 October 2011

Occupy London - Day 1

Photo by Elizabeth Hacker
‘There are none so hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free’ - Goethe

Saturday marked the beginning of Occupy London.
My cousin and I sat alongside thousands of other people in front of St Paul’s Cathedral.
A People’s Assembly was set in motion.
These assemblies have been taking place in Spain and Greece since spring.
They discuss the reasons why we are there and the practicalities of occupying the space.
With only a weak loudspeaker, it was difficult to hear so people echoed the speaker and passed the words through the crowd.
Why were we all there?
For some people the catalyst was the bail-out of the banks, others have been feeling uneasy about the system for much longer.
What unite the protesters are the questions and answers they are waking up to.
Is our democracy a real democracy?
Does our government work for us or for financial corporations?
We’re told that cuts need to be made to our public services because of massive national debt and yet there’s no law in place to stop an estimated 18 billion pounds being lost in tax havens ever year.
The Assembly suggested splitting into different groups: Shelter, Toilet, Food and Drink, Internal Affairs, External Affairs, Media, Legal Advice and Liaison.
“This movement is about empowering each one of us,” a girl said, in our group.
On one level, the message is simple. We need to take care of each other.
“People over Profits!” the protesters chanted in America.
Across the world people from of all walks of life came out to protest.
‘This is the Ethical revolution,’ a sign said.
My cousin and I didn’t camp out at St Paul’s. We were ill-equipped and went to leave at 6 o’clock.
Three lines of police refused to let us go home, though there were only a handful of us in the alley way.
“It’s not kettling,” one snapped at us. “It’s containment.”
It looked more like a power trip to us.
We waited patiently, knowing that if we were calm, they would have nothing to react against.
“Why did you come here?” one said to us. “You know protests all end up with you all getting kettled.”
“Contained,” his colleague corrected.
My cousin quickly reminded him that, without protests, we wouldn’t have the rights we have today. She reminded him women may not have got the vote.
“Women got the vote but they still can’t drive,” the second policeman scoffed.
“It was new back then,” the first policeman said, referring to demonstrations. “Now it’s old hat.”
“I just don’t know why you came,” the first one said.
His statement summed up what he thought a protester was; a scruffy, aggressive, negative, trouble maker whose actions were uncalled for.
In the demonstrations in Barcelona, I saw a sign that read, ‘You don’t have to have dreadlocks to join this revolution.’
This is a global movement. It is open to and for all humanity and no one should feel intimidated if they choose to show their solidarity.
Frankly, I hope standing up for what you believe in never becomes old hat.

Demonstrations around the World on 15th October:

SPAIN - Madrid


USA - New York


Anonymous said...

Why does such a fine writer as you get side-tracked into describing this nonsense?
It is hard to imagine anything more irrelevant and marginal to most people's lives than this gathering at St Paul's.
I suppose some people there believe their ill-informed, fantasy-land economics will make a difference. Quite sad,really.

Jed Millpond

Shop Girl said...

Ah Jed, I thought you might pop up and be negative, as you like to do when I write about something I care about.

Funny you say 'side-tracked' and 'irrelevant'. Are you denying the protests across the world didn't happen? Perhaps you didn't get round to clicking on the videos I posted.

I really don't know why you read my blog if you have so little respect for my views. I won't be offended if you stop.

Anonymous said...

You're right - I have no respect for the views you have been airing recently, or the sloppy way you express them.

I am just sorry to lose the vivid, often quirky, writing about the routines of your life, which I had thoroughly enjoyed since I first stumbled on your blog.


Shop Girl said...

Well I'm sorry to disappoint you. Three years is a long time to keep a blog going at the same pace and style. I appreciate you reading and enjoying the earlier posts. What is sad is that you have never given me any positive comments when you enjoyed it, only negative ones when you didn't.

Bloggers need to know when things are good as well as when it's not so good.

Anonymous said...

I'll wrap up this exchange of views by saying your point is very well made.
As with blog critiques, so with life in general. Frequently we sit back and enjoy that which pleases us, and only speak out when that situation changes.
I won't be following the blog any more, but I will remember with pleasure what you have written before