Occupy Democracy Returns to Parliament Square
Occupy Democracy returned to Parliament Square on Friday November 21. Solidarity with the Big NHS Sleep Out was followed by an attempt to welcome newcomers to Parliament Square ahead of an Occupy, consensus-based assembly where every voice counts. Peaceful people seeking an opportunity to demonstrate real democracy were faced with rows upon rows of police. Parliament Square was all fenced in again; Nelson Mandela’s statue behind bars. (Simon Morris wrote a blog about the symbolism of that.)
Unfurling an enormous ‘real democracy’ banner, Occupy Democracy supporters temporarily halted the traffic. Police insisted those wearing masks and scarves uncovered their faces – a Section 60 AA was in force. The crowd decided to ‘take the police for a walk’ and moved off to a patch of grass outside Downing Street – causing something of a security lock-down there – before returning to Parliament Square to reunite with others answering the Occupy callout.
The patch of grass outside the seat of our supposed democracy was enclosed behind fences, out of bounds. Around this precious piece of turf, a ring of police. Around them, the people. There was some fence-rattling. Cries of “Free Nelson Mandela!”. Donnachadh McCarthy (author of The Prostitute State – How Britain’s Democracy Has Been Bought) managed to get through a gap in the fence and set foot on the grass of the Square; he was then arrested – again. Last month he was arrested for holding a folded piece of tarpaulin while standing on the pavement, almost taking Baronness ‘Green’ Jenny Jones with him. The absurdity of these arrests would be funny if they weren’t so chilling. The purpose is undoubtedly to dissuade ordinary people from asserting their right to protest, to make it as difficult as possible for citizens to demand a hearing from the politicians who are supposed to represent them.
Undeterred, Occupiers reconvened outside the Supreme Court, close to Parliament Square, to hold an assembly open to all. Many intend to stay the night and through the weekend. A full programme of events is planned, with speakers, workshops, meetings and entertainment. No ordinary ‘sit-in’ or ‘demo’, this… it’s all about participation, education and skilling-up, with a view to collectively bringing about a real democracy that puts people, community and environment before profit.
The latest from Occupy Democracy:
“We’re coming together because we want genuine democracy – free from corporate influence – where our voices count. Our votes, so hard won by the struggles of previous generations, have little value if politicians ignore the population they’re supposed to serve.”
“We want to work with a wide range of people and groups, to collectively bring about a democracy that puts people, community and the environment before profits. We work by consensus, have a safer spaces policy and are dedicated to non-violence. Come join us as we #occupydemocracy.”
“We are outside The Supreme Court at the back of Parliament Square, behind Nelson Mandela’s statue. We are strong and we are staying!”