Four years ago, the Occupy movement tried to establish a camp at the London Stock Exchange in Paternoster Square. The Square, although it looks like public space, is in fact “private land”, and the Management Company applied for a pre-emptive injunction, so that on October 15th, the planned day for occupation, protesters were met by a police blockade, and instead they began their four month encampment in front of St Paul’s.
The original injunction remains in place, and gives power to the Security to order people off the land.
Comedian and activist Mark Thomas is currently touring his ‘Trespass’ show which campaigns and entertains around the subject of gentrification and the privatisation and corporatisation of public space. As a result of walking across Paternoster Square in a ’Shaun the Sheep’ outfit, Mark finds himself banned from the private land. Not one to take such bans lying down, he called supporters to join him in a mass trespass which took place on Saturday afternoon and attracted around 50 people who donned sheep masks and entered the Square ignoring the legal warning signs, and posing next to ‘No Loitering’ stickers.
Walking round and round in a loop outside the London Stock Exchange, they completed a nominal 1km hike before congregating around Dame Elizabeth Frink’s Bronze statue of a Shepherd and his Sheep.
At first, Security kept well away, but eventually they showed up, along with a bicycle cop and a PCSO . Mark explained the spectacle, and the injunction remained unenforced.
Later the same afternoon, with help from ‘Punk Ethics’, Mark organised a trespass at Gabriel’s Wharf, where he compered a public gig with sets by ‘Flowers of Flesh and Blood’ and ‘Oi Polloi’ as well as some comedy.
He also introduced some campaigners who are against the ‘Garden Bridge’ which I hadn’t realised will be another private space with its own rules and exclusions despite being built partly with public money. More info at http://www.tcos.org.uk