What is the meaning of Christmas when so many are left out in the cold? – by Norbert Lawrie
What is the meaning of Christmas when so many are left out in the cold? by Norbert Lawrie
In this final part to my update I shall endeavour to reveal a few things and aspects that up till now have not been exposed to the light of day, so as to give the reader a taster, a small quantity of the flavour from this very remarkable campaign, instigated and yes led by young homeless people, as well as posing some questions that we may all need to find some answers to, which if anything have been knocking around in my own head for the last day and ever since the illegal eviction took place.
Once the bank’s occupants had been turned out onto the cold winter streets and then gathered on the other side of the Charing Cross Road, some of our number stayed outside the building as the police concerted a coordinated pavement control around the former bank, they had already closed the road off to traffic whilst the eviction was executed and then they placed crowd control barriers and attempted to kettle in our comrades, who were now sitting or lying down in front of the building, we waged a war to stop them putting in place them barriers, a very peaceful one you must understand, ensuring that no one including the police got hurt. However, despite our best intentions to keep the situation calm, peaceful and violence free, the same could not be said about the police who from the very start made full use of intimidation and in general bully boy tactics, our people were thrown to the ground onto the cold hard pavement and when the first arrest was made, the comrade was hit in the stomach, and just for the record, despite what has been reported in the press, three arrests were made in total, all were subsequently released without charge.
The stand off with the Metropolitan Police lasted all night and into Christmas morning as we tried to assert our right to enter the building and cook Christmas dinner for the street homeless, this was the order that was made by a high court judge when the case was reviewed in an emergency hearing that we had won and when the judge ruled the eviction illegal. That judge was called out of bed in the middle of the night to confirm the order and still the police prevented us from entering the building.
By the time the judge had made the ruling and what I noticed afterwards, was the change of aggression from the police to one of passive law enforcement, accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance, except of course entering the building, when we gathered around the back of the building they blocked our path, we were indeed in a no win situation despite the ruling in our favour.
It was also becoming evident to me that some of the police officers looked a wee bit uncomfortable with what they were policing, homeless people trying to find a warm place, to be put up and enjoy some hot food and just to have a place for Christmas no matter how temporary it was, which is what the judge had ordered. So with a line of police in front of us someone proposed that we all observed a moments silence for Ian Tomlinson the homeless newspaper vendor who collapsed and died in the City of London on his way home from work, after being struck by a police officer during the 2009 G-20 summit protests. An inquest found that he had been unlawfully killed. For the first time in hours a silence fell as we at Christmas 2014 remembered Ian.
I have a very strict policy myself, of never talking to any police officer on any demonstration and keeping to that is important to me, the rule and role of the police in this occupation has provided me with all the justification I need and that means this is in no way a mistake on my part. However, more to the point we should all by now have grave concerns about the use of police in our country and the part that they are increasingly forced to play in what we call democracy, the very points that are indeed made by Occupy Democracy and should not fall on deaf ears or be ignored, we do so at our own peril, comrades.
I think it’s also important to say with the same breath, that I don’t blame any ordinary cooper… they are not the problem… but rather it’s the chain of command that travels all the way to the top and into the very heart of the establishment. So you never know, one day… the police may refuse to do the job and join with us the people?
I will now very briefly turn to the company Greencap Ltd. Well what can I say about them, nothing good that’s for sure, in recent days it’s become dissolved in the UK, but still active in Jersey with no names attached? No Directors, no nothing…there is something very dodgy here, it’s totally corrupt and proven unscrupulous, we are still looking into them.
I realise that this is a rather long post and I apologise for that but in some respects it could not be avoided, however my last word has to be about and for the homeless squatters…I am so proud to call them my comrades and friends, it has been my good fortune to have been able to stand with them throughout these last few days, I have learnt so much and from those so young, indeed it was a great pleasure to stay out all night on a bitter Christmas eve…which in turn has led me to ask this: ‘What is the meaning of Christmas when so many are left out in the cold?”
I can also tell you that they have a new squat, but can not reveal its location for obvious reasons, as I understand it, there is a need for sleeping bags and other bits and bobs, if you can help in any way you will find them manning a 24 hour picket of 2a Charing Cross Road the scene of the greatest Christmas crime in which this government is complicit… they intend to stay until the new year and be a part of the bigger campaign for housing justice and the call for affordable quality housing in Britain.
The very last word is from the squatters themselves:
“The last several days have been amazing, thanks to everyone who has shown their support in whatever form. Special shout-out to the awesome people who have volunteered to man the stalls day and night. Needless to say many thanks to everyone who has donated to the cause, your help has made this Christmas a great experience for those who otherwise would be swept out of view.”