London protesters camp out to show anger

Updated: 2011-10-17 06:43


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London protesters camp out to show anger

Demonstrators, one wearing a mock police uniform (R), stand in their camp outside St Paul's Cathedral in central London Oct 16, 2011. Around 250 protesters set up camp outside St Paul's Cathedral in the heart of London on Sunday, promising to occupy the site indefinitely to show their anger at bankers and politicians over the global economic crisis. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - Protests inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement on Sunday entered the second night in London in a makeshift camp outside one of the city's most iconic landmarks, St Paul's Cathedral.

More than 70 tents had been put up by protesters, who had also set up a kitchen. Police had also provided six portable toilets for protesters to use.

In the late afternoon, the protesters released a handwritten notice of six points, agreed by a "general assembly" of protesters earlier, on the side of the cathedral.

"The current system is broken - undemocratic, unjust. We need alternatives. This is where we start working towards them. We refuse to pay for the bankers' crisis," it read.

The protesters voiced support in the notice for British students demonstrating against reforms of university fees, which are set to cost more, and for a widespread strike of trade unionists in Britain on November 30 in protest of government austerity measures that are set to cost 330,000 public sector jobs.

They also said that the protesters wanted "structural change so the world's resources go to caring for people, and for the planet, and not to the military, corporate profits or the rich."

The police presence on Sunday was limited and friendly towards protesters, as they talked and joked with the demonstrators. The public were able to enter and leave the area freely.

But it was a different sight on Saturday night when dozens of police vans had been drawn up in a tight cordon around 600 protesters on the western steps of the St Paul's Cathedral. Hundreds of policemen were deployed, supported by a helicopter and police horses, to kettle the protesters in place and keep supporters from joining them.

More than three dozen police had charged into the crowd at about 7:40 pm Saturday, provoking an outraged response from protesters.

A police spokesman explained at the time this was "to protect the integrity of the building." Police seized the top of the cathedral steps where protesters sat, throwing some out of the way.

Fighting broke out for three or four minutes, but only before protesters realized they were not being removed, and police remained in occupation of the top of the steps until dawn on Sunday.

Police were forced to evacuate the area in embarrassment at about 7 am on Sunday when a senior cleric at the cathedral ordered them off church property.

Protesters who witnessed the scene told Xinhua that the cleric, identified in media as the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, had come out of the church and told the police "you're the only ones causing trouble here" and that the protesters meant no harm to the church. He then ordered the police off the steps."

The camp became a tourist attraction throughout Sunday, with the public making donations of money and food to the protesters.

Protesters had originally intended to occupy the London Stock Exchange, as a symbol of international finance, which sits in a square neighboring St Paul's. However, a strong police presence had prevented them from entering the area.

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