An Occupier’s Perspective: Interview with George Barda, litigant-in-person

 

Q&A with George Barda from this week’s issue of The Occupied Times. If any other occupiers would like to submit comment, do contact press@occupylsx.org.

Occupied Times: What was the legal substance of the case?

George: The legal position I advanced was that the alleged harms accompanying the presence of the camp were negligible compared with the actual and potential benefits. Three brilliant witnesses showed that Occupy has benefited society by bringing focus to issues such as inequality and tax havens. We argued that there was a “pressing social need” for OccupyLSX to continue and that our continued presence was “in the interests of democratic society”.

OT: How does the case relate to recent attempts to curb the right to protest, for example the ban on protests around the Houses of Parliament?

G: We need to be vigilant and challenge further curbs on the right to protest. The authorities are focussing on the manner and location of protests – the City of London Corporation said they had no problem with protest, only with tents and bedding. Similarly, people can protest our brutal military activities, just not publicly in Parliament Square. This trend aims to redirect dissent to where it doesn’t inconvenience the powerful and upset the status quo. I imagine we will see this dynamic clearly evident later in the year, around the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee.

OT: Does the verdict set a precedent for dealing with similar forms of protest?

G: With the passage of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill 2010-11, we’ve already seen the government seek to empower itself against the encamped form of protest. We’ve just got to roll with whatever the authorities throw at the movement; we’ll use adversity to grow stronger and inspire more people to get involved.

OT: What does the verdict mean for the St. Paul’s camp? Does the verdict have any implications for other Occupy camps, such as the camp in Finsbury Square?

G: It’s likely that this case will be cited as precedent… but there may be different legislation for parks as opposed to highways. It seems Islington council has been keen to support the democratic right to protest, so fingers crossed that Finsbury Square will remain.

OT: What are the implications for the verdict on Occupy London, looking forwards?

G: We’ll take the lessons learned from the occupation at St Paul’s and come back bigger and better. As Noam Chomsky suggested, the enforced move away from a high profile camp could be the opportunity to focus our efforts on outreach and engaging more of the 99%. More camps may also spring up and we’ll use them to continue learning, improving and mobilising.

OT: Has Occupy London agreed to a concerted response to the verdict? If so, what will this be?

G: Our response is and always will be a work in progress. It’s likely that a diversity of tactics will be employed over the coming days and weeks. Some people are determined to resist eviction, others feel that a pre-emptive switch to a new plan would put the 1% on the back foot. My personal preference is for hundreds of us to peacefully resist with just the weight of our bodies. Our reasonableness has been our greatest asset and I’d like to see us maintain this. One thing has very clear consensus: this movement will continue!

OT: What is the future for Occupy protests?

G: Politicians of all major parties are now talking about inequality, financial sector regulation and executive pay. We still have enormous work to do if we are to turn this rhetoric into political and social realities. Getting out into communities and organising meetings that give people an experience of real democracy will be crucial. Getting people to believe in our goals is easy; now we need to encourage them to dare to imagine that we can achieve them.

Occupy is an idea whose time has come. We cannot repair the economy without engaging with wider questions about social justice and the limitations of our natural resources.

Public services have only recently and partially recovered from the Thatcherite assault of the ‘eighties… we need to save them now. A stitch in time saves nine, as my granny used to say!

OT: How have you found the experience personally?

G: The opportunity to engage with so much interest, determination, goodwill and inspiration has been humbling.

The court case was important because it gave us a precious opportunity to register and record the political substance of the movement, which is largely ignored by the mainstream media.

I feel blessed to have been able to understand via this movement, my academic studies and my life experience that most of the world’s problems are not rocket-science to solve… we just have to build a compassionate and committed movement of the people to take back democracy.

George Barda @ OccupyLSX – Occupy Compassion, Courage & Possibility 15/10/11

 

One Response to “An Occupier’s Perspective: Interview with George Barda, litigant-in-person”

  1. “The legal position I advanced was that the alleged harms accompanying the presence of the camp were negligible compared with the actual and potential benefits”

    – So the area around St Paul’s suffers, while Occupy continue to get drunk and party (denying this would be very silly, the camp is littered with alcohol bottles and the air filled with pointless bongo playing, cack folk music), they disturb services (which they did on Wednesday at evensong after the Court case, perhaps not your smartest moment as that contravenes Article 9 of the Human Rights Act for the Cathedral’s worshippers, and is irrefutable owing to the weight of media filming the sorry episode).
    – There are still horrible amounts of litter, graffiti, filth, noise, abuse, violence between camp members, and so on.
    – And what are these supposed benefits that outweigh this activity? You have not highlighted the greed of bankers, most people in this country were already aware of this, so don’t try and claim responsibility for that one.
    – You have not come up with any workable solutions to any of the so-called problems the camp decides to get behind. In fact most camp members can’t even articulate what Occupy stands for. Although I have seen in the Occupy Times its now about the environment. It’s lucky for you lot that I can’t bear you people, because intellectually and academically, I could wipe the floor with any of you, any of your stupid sentiments, and stupid arguments. Unfortunately as I’d get more sense and reason out of a particularly stupid chimp than I would out of any of you lot, I can’t really be bothered.
    – Even your outlined agenda is full of unmeasurable nonsense. I’m fairly sure you couldn’t even define the Occupy stance on sustainability, which means any attempt at achieving it is impossible because if you don’t have a stance how can you fight for it?
    – Stop taking credit for things you haven’t done. Politicians have been discussing exec pay for ages. I’m sure you’ve heard of Vince Cable, he has been in the news a bit the last few years. Politicians talking about something isn’t an achievement, George. You’re naivity (or perhaps denial) is embarassing. New financial regulation. New legislation. That is achievement. All you’re doing is witnessing the continuation of the status quo, except it’s a bit dirtier than usual (most obviously where your tents are pitched).
    – To be honest, I get so confused about what the point of Occupy is, it makes my head hurt. You talk about financial regulation, then the environment, then the Iraq veteran throws in a little whinge about his girlfriend as though the 99% should care (You’re supposed to be fighting the banks, not producing a leftie version of Now magazine). You want the big banks to fail, which means whole portfolios of pensions would be lost, and yet you are in support of the public sector unions who want to protect their pensions, the ignorance of something so patently obvious is infuriating!
    – You are so confused, so unaware of how things actually work, of how complex the world is.
    – You think if we have financial regulation its going to help? Of course not; the banks would move elsewhere; there would be huge employment losses; and thus there would be less tax received by the government and more needing a safety net, so cuts in public services would be inevitable, and you lot will start bitching…..again.
    – I could go on, but I have actual work to do as well. I would, however, ask that you use the City of London’s Court Case as a guide to improving the conditions of your camp, and the behaviour of the campers. Its still a public nuisance.
    PS. While the City gave you a good hiding in Court, I do still hope Occupy are going to thank the City of London for their good work they do taking away your rubbish everyday for free, providing free health and safety advice, and providing continued use of the public water supply (that you enjoy for free) without which your camp couldn’t survive.
    PPS. Using devil sticks and painting lovely pictures of the masonic eye just makes you look like even bigger wallies. If you have to stay, sort your act out, stop procrastinating and focus a little. Maybe then you have a small glimmer of hope of doing something of value.

     

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