Third Occupation of Parliament Square this weekend (Dec 20-21)

 
Many Happy Returns! #occupydemocracy  pledges to return monthly until general election

 

Occupiers intent on transforming our democracy to make it work for people not profit have pledged to return to the Square every month until the general election in May 2015.

 

Occupy Democracy was launched in October of this year to highlight the corporate capture of our democracy and apply pressure for radical reforms so that democracy starts to work for the 99%. This weekend, 20-21 December, will be the third monthly occupation.

 

Occupation programme
In a seasonal twist the programme for this occupation includes two new takes on festive favourites:
  • a fossil-free nativity play performed by Christian climate activists to highlight the growing fossil fuel divestment movement [2]
  • climate campaigning carollers Shell Out Sounds will be sharing their Carols Not Barrels song sheets with occupiers in support of the cultural boycott of fossil fuel companies BP and Shell [3]
The occupation will also see speakers from housing campaigns such as Focus E15 Mums and the Our West Hendon campaign shining a spotlight on London’s housing crisis. Green Party Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali will talk about the ongoing democratic deficit in parliament, and award winning performance artist Ellie Stamp will challenge and entertain participants.

 

Sleeping bag collection for the homeless challenges new legislation
As temperatures fall in the run-up to to Christmas, over 500 people sleep rough on London’s streets every night [4] #occupydemocracy will be collecting donations of sleeping bags and blankets to distribute via #OpSafeWinter [5]. This is in defiance of a new law (Police and Social Responsibility Act 2011) that prohibits the possession of sleeping equipment in front of the Houses of Parliament – a law that led to the arrests of over 30 people at the first #occupydemocracy event in October.

 

“Christmastime is the season of giving,” said Occupy supporter Aisha Dee, “so it will be interesting to see which way the law will fall. Will Boris Johnson instruct the Metropolitan Police to be naughty or nice?”

 

Rough sleepers have a higher risk of dying on the streets this winter as a result of the government’s austerity programme. One in three council workers say they are less able to provide emergency accommodation in freezing temperatures following budget cuts [6].

 

Escalating homelessness and poverty is a symptom of our broken democracy
All three ‘main’ political parties support the austerity programme which has led to a dramatic rise in homelessness and poverty in the UK with shocking consequences, including:
  • the doubling of the number of London’s rough sleepers since the coalition came to power [7]
  • over 65 people a day dying in the winter in the UK as a result of illnesses due to cold homes [8]
  • 1 in 10 UK households now living in fuel poverty [9]
  • two new foodbanks opening every week to meet the growing demand from the 13 million people living below the poverty line in the UK [10]
Meanwhile, austerity has failed to cut UK debt – which has increased under the coalition by roughly 50% to £1.5 trillion [11] and has clearly benefited the super-rich with the number of billionaires in the UK doubling since the financial crash [12].

 

Occupier Matt Bonner said: “All the main political parties are committed to policies that benefit big business and the super-rich while making life much harder for the rest of us. Our politics is broken. None of the main parties represent the interests of the 99% anymore. We have to start taking the influence of corporations and rich individuals out of our politics so democracy can start working for ordinary people.”
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Notes:
[1] #OccupyDemocracy (http://occupydemocracy.org.uk/) was formed in March as a working group of Occupy London (http://occupylondon.org.uk/) to build a social movement for genuine democracy that is free from corporate influence.
#OccupyDemocracy’s first two occupations of Parliament Square attracted hundreds of people including prominent figures such as Russell Brand, Ken Loach, Vivienne Westwood and Jolyon Rubinstein; politicians such as Caroline Lucas MP, John McDonnell MP, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Baroness Jenny Jones and Michael Meacher MP; and representatives of dozens of civil society organisations who, in turn represent millions of people who have little voice in our democracy, including: Friends of the Earth, UK Uncut, World Development Movement, War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and numerous others.
Working by consensus decision making, #occupydemocracy has a safer spaces policy and is dedicated to non-violence.
[3] Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for a cultlural boycott of fossil fuel companies: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/10/desmond-tutu-anti-apartheid-style-boycott-fossil-fuel-industry Shell Out Sounds will be joining #occupydemocracy after singing outside the National Gallery to protest Shell’s sponsorship of the Rembrandt exhibition. https://www.facebook.com/events/618448871598325/
[5] See https://opsafewinter.org/ for more information
 

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