The Land is Ours

Occupy Movement in the UK (from Tahrir Sq, to Occupy Wall St, to a town near you!)

In response to the growing protest movement sweeping America (inspired no doubt by the wave of protest across the Middle-East) in response to growing austerity whilst the bailed-out financial system has continued where it left off without having implemented any systematic reforms, on 15th October 2011 the Occupy Wall Street protests went global with over 1,000 protests around the planet. In the UK a number of towns and cities saw occupy occupations. Several thousand attended a rally in London, where despite a show of force by the Metropolitan Police, a General Assembly was held and tents pitched in front of St. Paul's Cathedral. In Scotland, tents were pitched in Glasgow's George Square and Edinburgh's St. Andrew's Square. Ongoing occupations occured in Norwich, Nottingham, Newcastle and Bristol [ 1 | 2 ]. These occupations joined Manchester which had already been in Occupation since October 3rd, when a camp was started in Albert Square, which later moved to the Peace Gardens. In London, a 2nd tent encampment was set up on Finsbury Square, Moorgate on Oct 22nd 2011. Through the winter this unsurprsingly became a much appreciated refuge for some of London's at-any-one time numerous homeless persons. Finsbury Square was evicted of tents and living structures in the early hours of Thursday 14th June 2012.

The Occupy London tent community outside St Paul's Cathedral was evicted by baliffs acting on behalf of the Corporation on London, supported by City of London police, in the early hours of Tuesday 28th Feb 2012, after representatives of Occupy London lost their legal challenge for their right to appeal against eviction in the Court of Appeal the previous week. At the same time, with military precision and strategic forethought by the authorities, the Occupy London School of Ideas was also evicted, seemingly in contravention of Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977, as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994*. This happened despite the fact that those in occupation were still pursuing a legal appeal against eviction which was still progressing through the court system. [* - otherwise referred to as 'Squatters' Rights'].

The Bank of Ideas - as part of the Occupy London movement, an abandoned office block purchased several years ago by the bank UBS, was occupied by protesters and campaigners in early December. It was situated on Sun Street, Hackney - address 29 Sun Street. It was an enormous space complete with a 500-seater lecture hall. On the eve of 27th Jan, it was evicted by dozens of police without warning.

On Sat 21st Jan, Occupy London occupied Roman House, an abandoned nine-storey office building in the Barbican in the City of London which previously housed companies from the financial service industries.They initially planned to occupy the building until such time as the secretive City of London Corporation published full details of its City Cash Accounts. However, they ended their occupation the next day of their own accord after contractors employed by the owners Berkeley Homes contacted them directly and asked them to reconsider, fearful that the occupation may lead to their project being mothballed due to the occupation of the site.

At the height of the UK Occupy Movement in October/November 2011, occupations were taking place in cities up and down the UK. The Occupy Britain site was a good source for an overall roundup. Occupy London - in providing a counteractive critique to the machinations of the City of London and the financial system - have also been doing the free newspaper theoccupiedtimes.co.uk/

Occupy Gatherings have been functioning through daily General Assemblies. The General Assembly is a gathering of people committed to making decisions based upon a collective agreement or “consensus.”

There is no single leader or governing body of the General Assembly – everyone’s voice is equal. Anyone is free to propose an idea or express an opinion as part of the General Assembly.

Each proposal follows the same basic format – an individual shares what is being proposed, why it is being proposed, and, if there is enough agreement, how it can be carried out.

The Assembly will express its opinion for each proposal through a series of hand gestures. If there is positive consensus for a proposal – meaning no outright opposition – then it is accepted and direct action begins. If there is not consensus, the responsible group or individual is asked to revise the proposal and submit again at the following General Assembly until a majority consensus is achieved.

Within the General Assembly, there are smaller gatherings known as “Working Groups” that focus on supporting specific initiatives or topics relevant to the movement. These range from Food, Medical, and Legal Committees to Media, Tranquility, Direct Action and many more. All groups are open to anyone interested in supporting.

Occupy London continues to organise events all the time, including Occupy Democracy emphasing how the occupy movement in general is free to re-emerge at any time. In relation to Occupy London, for minutes of the most recent general assemblies, visit: http://occupylsx.org/?cat=22

An Occupy Land group was set up within Occupy London and were meeting regularly to discuss the following issues: land mapping, land ownership, land rights & the importance of land. https://occupywiki.org.uk/London/Land