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
PORTUGAL - Lisbon
USA - New York