Tag Archives: Occupy

24th Oct 2015, Occupy the Daily Mail – video report

On 24th October 2015, media and climate activists began a 48-hour vigil and protest outside the London HQ of the Daily Mail in Derry Street, Kensington.

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, joined one of the group, Donnachadh McCarthy, for a meeting with the Managing Director of the Daily Mail, Charles Garside, and their Environmental Correspondent.

During the meeting they presented evidence of misleading and unscientific headlines, which the newspaper staff undertook to respond to.

Later there was a candlelit silent vigil to remember the people killed by climate change (which the UN currently estimates is nearly half a million each year).

Several activists continued to camp outside the building until Sunday.

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Occupy Murdoch – Saturday Rally, Trial and Occupation

On Monday 23rd March, an occupy protest began in the shadow of the Shard building, outside Rupert Murdoch’s News International HQ in London Bridge Street.

The protest focuses on the power that Murdoch and four other right-wing extremist media billionaires have over public opinion in the run up to the May general election.

Each day of occupation concentrated on different themes, such as environment, democracy, poverty, health and NHS, and human rights.

Saturday promised a mock trial of Rupert Murdoch, and a larger rally leading to a non-violent direct action (NVDA).

Although the rain mostly held off, weather was characterised by howling winds, whipped up by the tall buildings. But the show went on.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

The trial of Murdoch was of course part comedy, with a bumbling Boris included as a witness for the defence, along with a smarmy Cameron, but prosecution witnesses included a moving statement from an ex-Wapping print worker who described the heartless Union-bashing, police violence, and the effects on so many workers that led some to suicide at the behest of Murdoch.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

Among other witnesses was a speaker from the Tax Justice Network, who pointed out the hypocrisy of Murdoch’s massive tax avoidance while his newspapers focus on tiny levels of benefit fraud.

The role of the Sun newspaper in promoting the lies that led to the Iraq war were also under scrutiny, showing that Murdoch was implicit in International War Crimes.

Found guilty on several charges, in the spirit of non-violence, reconciliation, love and respect that the Occupy movement prides itself on, his punishment was that he be exiled from the UK, stripped of his business empire, and forced to live as a lowly member of the 99%, but was also given rehabilitation with a heart and hugs.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

A photo op was then set up to portray News International’s war crime involvement.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

After the trial, celebrity economist Max Keiser did a short set, and handed out free money in the form of StartCoin cards, which he hopes people will use to invest in great crowd-fund projects on StartJoin, such as the Trews awnings springing up in London to replace newsagent Sun sponsorships.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

An energetic and talented anarchist rock trio from Norfolk, ‘Shock Hazard’ then performed a few tunes to warm up the growing crowd.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

As their loud amps ran out of battery juice, it was time for some Earth folk to lead a ‘Beating the Bounds’ ceremony round the building to the sound of drums and ancient horn.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

All week, the protest has been under intense scrutiny from authorities. There was a continual array of private security guards, from the Shard, News International, London Bridge station and elsewhere. Intelligence-gathering Police Liaison Officers were always mingling with the crowd and trying to engage in conversation. There were red-coated Community Wardens, British Transport Police, and Met Police too.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

A silver-windowed office over the road, which was an abandoned Ambulance Control Centre, was commandeered by police to provide a perfect viewing and meeting spot.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

As the time for direct action approached, a police helicopter buzzed overhead, and a FIT team with police photographer and video operator turned up.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

Before the moment of action, some very welcome sustenance, curry and fruit, was provided by the mobile Hare Krishna food cart.

Then, after a briefing to go through the ‘safe space’ policy, and to stress the non-violent nature of the exercise, a crowd (bolstered by activists who had attended the ‘This Changes Everything’ conference during the day) approached the main entrance of the News International building.

While a small number of ‘blac bloc’ activists scaled the wall and occupied the attention of the corporate security guards, others jumped over fences from behind, and made a run for the front doors. Organiser, Donnachadh McCarthy was briefly pinned against a wall behind the legs of a burly guard, but he slipped out and nearly made it to the revolving glass doors, while security guards tried to prevent others entering the area.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

In the chaos, more people flooded the covered space in front of the doors, and security gave up holding that space and concentrated on stopping any entry to the building.

Then a dozen or so TSG officers pushed their way into the crowd and formed a further line in front of the entrance.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

The brief excitement subsided. No-one, despite minor scuffles, had been hurt nor arrested, and an open mic session began with the megaphone, while protestors held the huge ‘occupy’ banner in front of police lines, and a variety of other banners and placards were displayed.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

Later that night, many people drifted away, but a core group of a dozen or so continued the occupation, two tents sprang up, and police stepped down their presence so that the occupation settled in for a peaceful night, still buffered by strong wind, but sheltered from rain.

The occupation was of course symbolic, and didn’t actually shut down the news empire, as staff were seen scurrying in and out of a rear service door and through a fenced gate guarded by more security.

28th march 2015 #occupymurdoch activists at the Sun HQ near the Shard

Certainly, the news-makers can not have been unaware of the protest, even though the papers were strangely muted about this news the next day.

Sunday was planned to be the final day of the week-long protest, on the theme of alternative media, with strong representation from the soon to be launched ‘Real Media’ platform.

 

 

Occupy Murdoch – Day One

With more than fifteen hundred people signed up to the Facebook page, hopes were high for a good turn-out this morning. Truth be told, the dozen or so protesters were completely outnumbered by police, security and journalists, as they gathered at London Bridge this morning.

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01 occupy rupert murdoch

While the half dozen blue-tabarded ‘Police Liaison Officers’ mingled with the activists trying to gain intel as they do, a Forward Intelligence Team was sightseeing from a distance, pointing their video camera at the gathered journalists, having filmed the Occupiers from every angle.

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There were also security staff (the men in black) from the Sun offices, and other unknown undercovers watching from a distance.

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After a photo-call, the small group set off for the ‘mini-shard’ Sun HQ where again they posed for pics and organiser, Donnachadh McCarthy, gave a short speech, before delivering their ‘arrest warrant’ for Mr Murdoch.

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Opposite the modern Shard entrance to London Bridge station is a small area where works are in progress behind blue fencing. There’s not much through footfall here, and there are some benches to sit on, making an ideal spot for the week-long occupation.

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Soon, banners and posters were fixed on the fence, a symbolic tent and a children’s play pen were set down, and the first speaker, Occupy’s George Barda turned up.

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The full week’s activities are up on the web page, along with ideas for solidarity actions for those that want to support but can’t make it to London Bridge.

The organisers believe a civil injunction will be fast-tracked to try to move them off the land, and a call-out for peaceful resistance will no doubt go out on their twitter feed when that happens.

The biggest event of the week will most likely be on Saturday, but in the meantime there are some fab speakers and some excellent cabaret lined up, along with daily assemblies.

Occupy Democracy February – “Equality and Representation”

Last weekend, ‘Occupy Democracy’ returned to Parliament Square for a series of events around ‘Equality and Representation’. Despite an ongoing legal challenge against the GLA over previous repression, on Saturday they faced further arrests by police who appeared to be having difficulty providing a legal basis for their actions.

The afternoon began peacefully on the pavement by Churchill’s statue with a presentation on Islamaphobia, followed by a mock funeral for democracy at the foot of Mandela’s statue.

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Then the activists walked on to the grass area and unfurled a huge tarpaulin, on which they continued debate, with an inspirational offering from Kerry-anne Mendoza (aka Scriptonite).

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Heritage Wardens and police kept interrupting proceedings and attempting to hand over pieces of paper and information to members of the group, but were mostly ignored. Police numbers were also building up, with TSG officers arriving on the scene, and suddenly a dozen or more officers bundled into the crowd, ignoring the shouts that there were elderly and infirm individuals present, and they made their first arrest of the evening, targeting Donnachadh McCarthy, author and media activist. The authorities clearly see him as some sort of focus, as this is the fourth arrest he has endured.

From then on, the evening descended into a petty legal farce and police actions which successfully disrupted the planned events. Superintendent Kohli, heading the police operation, began the evening in assured form claiming his conscience was clear, but as legal arguments ensued, he was heard arguing with CPS about whether CCTV was needed to support any charges, and later literally refused to speak with Bindman’s lawyers and drove away into the night. See the video.

Each of the several more arrests over the evening followed the same bizarre pantomime. A Heritage Warden, surrounded by a large group of TSG officers, would randomly select a member of the public on the grass and (if they didn’t run away), would ask them to leave the grass, without giving any reason for the request. He then claimed they were breaking a Bye-Law by not following a “reasonable direction”, but constant requests to be told the “reason” for the request were ignored. He then asked for a name and address, and if refused, police piled in to arrest the person targeted.

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At one point, people in chorus (using the ‘mic check’ technique of call and response), described to the wardens and officers that some months ago, a Bindman’s solicitor had explained to the commanding Inspector why this exact same scenario was unlawful, and as a result he had withdrawn nearly 200 officers allowing the occupation to continue peacefully – this caused the police and wardens to withdraw and huddle for a while, but they returned for more arrests soon after.

The argument lies around whether a Warden can just issue a direction to leave (which clearly opens him/her up to the dangers of discrimination or infringement of human rights), or whether the “reasonable direction” has to have one of the reasons defined by the rest of the Bye-Laws.

The arrestees were released hours later, and all except Donnachadh, who is facing other charges, were told there would be ‘No Further Action’. Thus, the entire police operation seriously disrupted a peaceful and probably entirely lawful assembly by a few dozen people wishing to discuss the state of democracy in front of Parliament. It seems the occupy movement have a point.

They returned the next day and again held many of their workshops (with topics including ‘feeding the homeless’, ‘black activism’, ‘Greece and Syriza’) on the pavement next to Churchill’s statue.

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Romayne Phoenix

Romayne Phoenix

But when they peacefully moved to the grass, they faced further intimidation and harassment from wardens and police threatening further arrests.

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04 occupy democracy february 15

They finished the day by holding a small rally in front of Parliament.

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Superintendent Kohli certainly had CCTV covered on the Sunday, with a crew of four mysterious figures observing and filming from an overlooking window, and an unmarked green van sporting a powerful surveillance camera just behind the gates of Westminster.

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01 surveillance

Occupy Democracy return to the Square on the day of the massive Climate March next month on the 7th.

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Occupy Democracy in Parliament Square Sat. 24th Jan 2015

Occupy have held several events in Parliament Square over the last few months (covered in previous blogs). Their attempts to hold democratic peaceful meetings in front of the so-called ‘Mother of Democracy’ Parliamentary buildings, have been met with repression ranging from petty and laughable jobsworthism to full-blown police aggression. The Mayor of London has spent huge amounts (according to FoI requests more than a quarter of a million pounds of public money last October alone) putting up huge ugly fencing in the name of protecting the grass and the area’s “heritage” for tourists. Interestingly, the word ‘heritage’ was until very recently purely about inheritance, possession and ownership, rather than its currently implied connection with culture, so perhaps Boris is being at least etymologically honest.

At the weekend, there was a large anti-Trident protest near Parliament, so ‘Occupy’ called for a follow-on assembly in Parliament Square discussing and highlighting the corporate connections and influence on Government policy around the issues of arms sales, war, and nuclear weapons.

As the Trident protest ended in Old Palace Yard, a couple of hundred activists marched on to Parliament Square, ignoring a “Heritage Warden” who tried to repel them, and setting up some large banners and making themselves comfortable for an afternoon of debate, speakers, and occasional music.

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The “Heritage Wardens” were originally meant to stop pigeon-feeders, anti-social behaviour, and illegal trading, but their powers were extended dramatically by new Bye-Laws based on the contentious PRASRA law which was written as a direct response to Brian Haw’s continued successful 10-year peace vigil, and the threat of Occupy encampments following the St.Paul’s protest in solidarity with Wall Street.

So now, these wardens work for a small private security business managed by an ex-soldier who served in Afghanistan. Perhaps you remember that one of the reasons the corporate media told us we had to fight the Taliban was that they didn’t allow anyone to play musical instruments? We were apparently going to bring the Afghan people freedom from such draconian repression. How ironic then, that this veteran now has his private troop of jumped-up caretakers running after a gentle acoustic guitarist, as they did on Saturday, and as they can be seen doing on a regular basis in Trafalgar Square, warning that the playing of musical instruments is prohibited.

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Watched by police Forward Intelligence Teams, with more than half a dozen police vans parked round the Square, and listened in to by several more intelligence officers dressed as Police Liaison in their baby-blue, a group of around a hundred stayed well into the evening.

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In defiance of the Bye-Laws and the past police violence and arrests, they held their ground for several hours into the cold night, and handed round a tiny megaphone, while sitting on tarpaulin (both acts banned by the Bye-Laws), as they discussed what ‘Occupy’ stands for, what its demands are, and how to counter the corporate control of Government and develop a true democracy based on the will of and acting for the good of ordinary people.

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This tiny and completely peaceful act of defiance (hardly noticed by the corporate media or the world at large) showed up the insanity of previous expensive and pointless repression and symbolised how disobedience can win small battles, and as we know from history, can eventually create vast changes.

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‘Occupy’ have launched a Judicial Review against the Mayor of London over the previous fencing and repression (https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/news/press-releases/liberty-launches-judicial-review-fencing-around-parliament-square-gardens), and have announced their return for a weekend occupation of the Square beginning on 14th February, with the fitting theme of love, equality and representation.

http://www.occupydemocracy.org.uk

Occupy returns to Parliament Square

This morning, Occupy activists began another weekend occupation of Parliament Square. Once again, fences have gone up, not just around the grass (supposedly closed for repairs), but also around all the concreted areas, along with high fences around the grass in front of the Supreme Court at the rear of the Square.

GLA notices state that the Square is closed to the public, and warn that “failure to comply with a reasonable request from an authorised officer is a criminal offence” – this begs the question, what is “reasonable”? It’s hard to get any “reason” for the closure, mainly because if the authorities admit it is in order to stop protest, they will fall foul of human rights law, so they contort themselves into totally unreasonable knots to avoid stating the bleeding obvious.

GLA notice

Unperturbed, the activists set up on the pavement at the front of the Square, sitting on a tarpaulin to listen to various speakers throughout the day, including a fascinating history of squatting and squatting law by Phoenix.

Pheonix on squatting

They received regular honks of support from passing motorists, who could hardly miss the huge “Real Democracy” banner held throughout the day by several volunteers.

Honk

Banner

Policing was fairly low-key for much of the day, but very intelligence-led, with FIT photographers working there this morning, a very high definition camera on a stalk above an unmarked van parked up behind the gates at Parliament, and some Police Liaison Officers, who showed their real agenda by mainly liaising with the Heritage Wardens rather than the activists.

Liaison

Police surveillance camera

Meanwhile, up the road at Downing Street, there was a protest about fuel poverty, with two men stripped down to Bermuda shorts, occasionally joined by a third, braving the cold in solidarity with the growing number of UK citizens unable to heat their homes.

Fuel Poverty

Fuel Poverty at Downing St

They are promoting Fuel Poverty Action’s “Energy Bill of Rights” which you can find out how to support by visiting their website.

Occupy have announced that 30 volunteers are holding the protest area overnight, and you can see their full programme of events for tomorrow here.

UPDATE – around 8pm, activists opened the barriers and asserted their rights to enter the Square. Some activists sat on a tarpaulin and a large number of police with no more pressing business (must be a very quiet crime night in London) arrived on the scene.

Fossil Free Nativity play calls for Methodist Church investment

On Friday, the Church of England, which invests around £100m in Shell and £50m in BP, announced that they would be urging the oil companies to “adapt their business” to cut back on carbon emission and invest much more in renewables. They intend to file a shareholder’s resolution at Shell’s 2015 AGM next summer, calling for routine reporting on climate change response, and renewable investment strategies.

While a significant move, it falls far short of both UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon and the World Council of Churches’ calls for oil divestment, which form part of a rapidly growing movement in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that to avoid catastrophic climate change, 80% of oil assets MUST remain in the ground.

So while the hugely powerful multi-national oil lobby continues to invest in oil exploration and talks about carbon capture, it is facing serious opposition as huge investors like the British Medical Association, numerous city councils and universities, and even the oil-rich Rockefeller Foundation divest from the industry, not just on the basis of potential climate change, but as a sound financial decision, backed by forecasts from the IMF and Bank of England, warning of overvalued carbon assets, liable to become problematic “stranded assets”. It’s estimated the oil industry lost $4.2 billion worth of investment in 2014 alone as major shareholders moved to greener and ethical funds.

The Methodist Church is a huge body with more than £1 billion investments in the stock market, controlled by its Central Finance Board (CFB), and advised by the Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI), which recognised in its 2014 report that “fuel extraction companies may remain profitable at the expense of the planet”, and yet takes the position that it has a fiduciary duty to maximise return on its investments, that “stranded assets” are some years down the line, and that it is better to engage and influence oil companies through shareholdings rather than divest.

So yesterday, Christian Climate Change and Divest London activists staged a cheeky Fossil-Free Nativity performance outside the Westminster Methodist Church HQ, to publicise their divestment pressure campaign.

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While a narrator and the Archangel Gabriel took to the stage and introduced other characters and their Fossil-Free nativity, the congregation of around 30 supporters sang subverted hymns such as “No Oil” (to the tune of Noel), “In the Peak Oil Winter”, and “Bad King Herod Once Looked Out”.

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After Gabriel visits Mary to tell her about the future King, he leaves with the warning:
One last thing. Watch out for Herod, he’s a little bit crazy.
He does everything he’s told by his advisors, EDF and BP.
They have him all wrapped up, and for their own improvement
are unlikely to aid in the Peace on Earth Movement.

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After which the congregation burst into song:
No Oil, No Oil, the angels did sing,
No more fossil fuels just invest in green things.

Once the baby Jesus is born, the shepherds complaining about the weather, and one says:
I know what you mean, and what’s more galling,
That Roman Centurion took my tarpaulin

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Meanwhile, after intercepting Joseph’s emails, Herod is after the baby Jesus, to try to corrupt him with riches from the oil companies, and the Narrator asks:
Will he grow up to be wise, gentle and meek
resisting the strong and uplifting the weak?
Or maybe he will be lazy, proud and rash
and fill up his pockets with oil stained cash

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The play ended with “Away In the Manger” and a message to the Methodist Church:
Now close your investments in all fossil fuels
Take care of the planet stop listening to fools.

The cast took a quick photo-call inside the Methodist Centre around the statue of John Wesley, before being ushered out by security.

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They also invited people to sign postcards addressed to the Chair of JACEI, Rev John Howard, calling for divestment.

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There’s a chance to catch another performance at the Occupy weekend in Parliament Square on 20th/21st December.