Occupy has its ups and downs. Living cheek-by-jowl on the city cobbles in winter, with a bunch of disparate rebels, isn’t easy. I mentioned this to a wise old man who said “Well, you didn’t expect revolution to be a walk in the park did you?”.
The City of London Corporation is attempting to evict us for obstruction of the highway. I sat in court for a couple of days and found the witness statements on our side humbling, moving and inspiring. There were chuckles, tears and standing ovations from the public gallery. The Judge appeared genuinely interested in the peculiarities and importance of the case and gave us a stay of execution until at least January 11th. He will be weighing the evidence over the holidays.
On the one hand: An immature ragtag movement is claiming that democracy, the economy and the earth itself are in peril; therefore there is a pressing social need for us to continue stimulating debate, raising awareness and campaigning for change… and that in order to do those things effectively we must remain in our strategic and symbolic location between St Paul’s and the London Stock Exchange, right in the heart of the corrupt CoL.
On the other hand: The City of London paints a picture of a gang of rowdy wastrels frightening innocent city workers and school children, clogging up the pavement with banners and buskers, peeing in corners and making the place look untidy.
The City has some valid points. It’s true that the camp has attracted homeless and mentally ill people; consequentially there is a certain amount of challenging – sometimes downright disruptive – behaviour. However, OccupyLSX didn’t create these people and behaviours out of thin air. One of the camp defendants pointed out in court that the City of London has been a major contributor to the exact social problems that have now landed on its doorstep – and that this could be considered poetic justice.
The Judge asked whether poetic justice is a good thing or a bad thing. Our defendant said “It is instructive,” and we all waved our hands in the air.
Whether the camp’s evicted from St Paul’s or not we’re a strong community now and we’ll stick together to fight for what we believe in.
An end-of-year Occupy round up looks something like this:
There are 950 occupations worldwide, approximately 25 in the UK. A national Occupy conference is held in a different city every month. Live-stream links occupations across the world. Occupy has more online platforms than anyone can keep abreast of (in London alone we’ve half a dozen websites, a forum, a handful of twitter accounts, facebook pages, wikis, livestream, youtube, mumble and tumblr). The Occupied Times is eight issues young and going strong, the Occupiers’ Toolkit has been widely disseminated and an Occupiers’ Handbook is being created. Time magazine’s Person of the Year was The Protester and in column inches Occupy is definitely a winner. Links are being forged with Transition communities. Occupy Edinburgh has the blessing of the city council. Quakers support us. We’re in dialogue with the faithful from churches, mosques, synagogues and temples. Teenagers are putting Occupy messages on youtube and ordinary people are discussing the big issues on buses and in laundrettes. School parties are taking educational tours of Occupy encampments and museums are archiving the OT for posterity. Bishops, American preachers, financiers, famous musicians and a billion journalists want to talk with us.
We must be doing some things right… but where to from here?
Occupy 2012 may look a little different.
See my next post…