Valentine’s Day on Parliament Square, an occupier’s view
It was Sisters Uncut and Divestment Day, it was a vigil for the ‘death of democracy’ and it was Occupy Love. It was Occupy Democracy #5, five cold winter months of assembling at the doors of power, demanding a voice for ordinary folk.
Scriptonite spoke, so did Josh from London Black Revs. Citizen journalists captured what they said.
In open mic sessions people talked passionately about making a better world, and they sang, and became a community, on the damp grass of a February evening in central London.
An Assembly had been called to consider how Occupy London might want to engage with the upcoming election, while avoiding aligning ourselves with any particular parties or politicians.
After online discussions on this topic one occupier had put forward the following proposal:
In line with its Statement of Autonomy, Occupy London is unable to support or endorse any established political parties. However with the forthcoming general election, it is recognised that certain political parties have policies that are more in line with Occupy’s aims than others, even though none of them seek the systemic change that Occupy sees as essential.
Therefore it is proposed that:
‘In the run-up to the general election, Occupy should highlight those policies in political parties’ manifestos, and statements by individual candidates, that are in line with our aims, and those which aren’t, with the hope of giving some assistance to those supporters of Occupy who wish to exercise their democratic right to vote.’
Here’s the livestream of the Assembly: http://bambuser.com/v/5286188
The proposal reached consensus – there were no objections.
The police tried very hard to interrupt the assembly, at one point almost pushing over the facilitator. The livestream shows this too – an absurd use of force by the police to arrest one peaceful person who had been sitting on a tarpaulin listening to the discussion, an anti-democratic breaking up of a peaceful gathering of ordinary people talking about politics.
In the UK we’re not allowed to discuss the upcoming election outside our own Parliament on a Saturday evening.
The assembled people became neither violent nor disaffected by police actions, but calmly reconvened while legal observers made sure we knew where Donnachadh McCarthy – targeted for arrest for the umpteenth time – was being taken.
Shortly after the assembly, prolific livestreamer Obi was arrested. Simply for being there.
Occupy Democracy events will continue tomorrow and are safe to attend – police seem only to be arresting those who step on the grass in the centre of the Square, so if you want to go down and see what’s going on, but don’t want to be arrested, you’ll almost certainly remain free if you stay on the pavement. (Just shows what a silly game it is that’s being played by the authorities.)
More info about the reasons for being at Parliament Square on a monthly basis, plus the Sunday 15th Feb programme, at http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/