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Police illegally evict Occupy London supporters from new building; Bank of Ideas events postponed; Olympic authorities encouraged to use “all available powers” against protesters and tents

 

Occupy London is greatly concerned by what appears to be the wholly disproportionate actions of the City of London Police in breaking and entering premises being legally occupied under Section 6 of the 1977 Criminal Law Act.

Early this morning supporters of Occupy London began legally occupying the abandoned Midland Bank at St Alphage Highwalk, London EC2. For what happened next, we encourage you to watch the video below:

The film ceases just as the Territorial Support Group arrive to forcibly gain entry to the building. Police can be clearly heard to state that the offence under investigation is “theft of a padlock.” There do not seem to have been any witnesses to this crime.

In the events that followed this video, four supporters of Occupy London were arrested. We believe they are being held at Snow Hill Police Station (London EC1A 2DP).

Occupy London is considering the situation closely in consultation with our legal team. Any action we intend to take will be announced in due course.

Events at the Banks of Idea postponed

The Bank of Ideas, the multimillion pound complex of buildings on Sun Street owned by Swiss investment bank UBS, is closing its doors today as the Possession Order granted to UBS comes into place from 2pm. The Bank of Ideas had been open since 18 November as a thriving arts and community centre playing host to just under three hundred talks, workshops, lectures, film screenings, conferences, debates and performances and has promised to reopen soon.

Supporter Jack Holborn stated: “We fully intend to continue with all the wonderful work that has been initiated, including the Free University and the accessibility to arts rehearsal space as soon as possible. Thank you to all the people who have helped make this such an inspiring project so far and we look forward to moving forward together with you into the next phase. We will update you as soon as we can. You can’t evict a Bank of Ideas!”

Occupy London’s first public repossession was chosen as a prime example of a building allowed to fall derelict in the centre of London – an act as wasteful in economic terms as it is in social ones – so that the entire site could be sold off at a later date for redevelopment.

UBS have a history of promoting short-term shareholder value over the interests of society at large. The Swiss bank was implicated in the sale of shared appreciation mortgates throughout the 1990s, a trade that has left many British pensioners virtually penniless and unable to move to more suitable accommodation. [1] [2] Unlike other banks, UBS never set up a rescue fund for those affected.

LOCOG asked to rank tents alongside firearms and explosives

Finally, Occupy London notes that the Home Office has encouraged LOCOG, the authority in charge of the London Olympics, to add tents and camping equipment to its list of prohibited items. [2] This follows reports in November that the Home Office were considering imposing ‘exclusion zones’ around the Olympic sites and proposed Westminster Council bylaws restricting the right to demonstrate in the vicinity of Parliament. [3]

Occupy London is concerned by the introduction of such rules in ways that limit the opportunities for effective oversight. This lack of open debate contributes to an environment in which there is a temptation for authorities to overstep the mark.

Occupy London supporter Laura Taylor said: “This is the latest in a long line of worrying developments. It is now clear that the right to assemble and make your voice heard is being treated as a threat to be controlled rather than an essential element of a free society – one that should be celebrated as testament to the strength of our democracy.

“The concept of protest by permission, the “legitimate protest” that takes place only with the say so of those who make the law, is one that is inimical not just to the nature of protest, but that of democracy itself. The 2012 Olympics are being held in London, not in Beijing. It would be awful if, by the time the summer comes round, it’s harder to tell the difference.”

The City of London Police has to date not issued an apology to Occupy London supporters for repeatedly calling them extremists and terrorists over the course of almost two months in seven official documents sent to the business community in the City. [4]

Note
[1] Occupy London ‘repossesses’ multi-million pound bank offices – http://occupylsx.org/?p=1229 / Bank of Ideas offers UBS £5 for continued use of its building; ‘Save Our Shelter’ exhibition; pensioners support http://occupylsx.org/?p=2540
[2] U.K. Acts to Stop Occupy-Style Protests at London Olympic Venues
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-25/u-k-acts-to-stop-occupy-style-protests-at-london-olympic-venues.html
[3] Demonstrations’ to be banned during Olympics’
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/demonstrations-to-be-banned-during-olympics-6265121.html
[4] How Police branded OccupyLSX and UKUNCUT as “Terrorists” /
http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/police-branded-occupylsx-ukuncut-terrorists/ Do the City of London Police really see Occupy London’s peaceful protesters as domestic extremists? http://occupylsx.org/?p=1924

 
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