Following an eventful weekend, #occupydemocracy ended the occupation of Parliament Square peacefully, announcing an intention to return to Parliament Square over the weekend of 20-21 December.
At an open assembly on Sunday evening outside the Houses of Parliament, supporters of #occupydemocracy agreed to continue highlighting the corruption of our democracy by corporate interests between now and the next occupation of Parliament Square in a month’s time.
Those assembled called on pro-democracy supporters in London and around the UK to organise solidarity actions and events over the coming weeks, to highlight the issue of the democratic deficit in this country.
Despite rain, obstruction and harrassment by the police, a determined group of occupiers held discussions and talks from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. Online support poured in with many people reminding those present that they were representing thousands of others unable to physically attend, but who are equally appalled at the disintegration of our Parliamentary Democracy.
Mandela, Churchill and Lincoln behind bars; Democracy excluded from Parliament Square
#occupydemocracy understands that it is Mayor Boris Johnson, as head of the Greater London Authority (GLA), who keeps increasing the size of the fenced off area around Parliament Square. This now includes the statues of Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill – inaccessible to the public – as well as the area of grass in the centre.
Johnson is apparently oblivious to the profound symbolism of putting Nelson Mandela back behind bars and excluding peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators from having access to the Square. In extraordinary scenes on Saturday night, police arrested former Liberal Democrat Deputy Chair and author of ‘The Prostitute State’, Donnachadh McCarthy, for placing a “Free Nelson Mandela” sign on the caged statue.
Denied access to the square by the extensive fencing, and constantly guarded by a heavy police presence, occupiers settled in front of the Supreme Court at the rear of Parliament Square, where they maintained a presence over two cold, damp nights in defence of democracy. At 3pm on Sunday (23 November), the protest site moved to the pavement in front of the Houses of Parliament after a protester locked himself to the railings – with a bicycle D-lock around his neck – while others unfurled a 20 metre banner that read ‘Real Democracy Now!’
Locked on for democracy
#occupydemocracy supporter Arr
an released himself after five hours due to concerns about swelling that was occurring around his neck. It was a decision he made after discussion with the rest of those present who were prepared to support him throughout the night. He received great cheers when he released himself shortly after 8pm. He was taken to St Thomas’ Hospital but did not require medical attention.
Arran explained what drove him to take this action: “The suppression of my free speech during #occupydemocracy in October was so extreme I felt this was the only way to get my voice heard.” Arran was arrested during the previous occupation of Parliament Square in October, for sitting on a piece of tarpaulin.
Donnachadh McCarthy, who gave a speech at #occupydemocracy earlier today, said: “Arran’s heroic gesture is in the proud democratic tradition of the Suffragettes – our democracy has been so damaged by corporate hijacking that only such mass peaceful direct action can create a democracy that works on behalf of all the people, and not just the 1%.”
Quotes from other speakers at #occupydemocracy this weekend.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said: “Politics is changing and breaking wide open. That gives us enormous opportunities. Westminster hasn’t fundamentally changed in a hundred years. The last big change was women getting the vote in 1918. It’s too late to tinker with things. The fact is the whole system is broken. What we need to do is start again, have a peoples’ constitutional convention.
Dr Lucy Reynolds, research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, spoke about the scandal of NHS privatisation taking place under our noses, without any public mandate and from which many parliamentarians stand to benefit personally. She said: “A sad day has come to pass when people feel they have to lock on outside Parliament to get their voices heard. An NHS protester previously did that. She was an 81 year old former teacher who had herself chained to railings to protest the theft of the NHS. The police cut her free and carried her away. Russian TV reported, but British outlets didn’t see fit to cover the story – the NHS is being privatised.”
Former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray said: “This country is teetering out of control. The level of poverty and desperation among many many people is going higher and higher […] and the astonishing wealth of the elite is growing greater and greater. That is not a sustainable position. We are now at the stage that change in society is going to come in a revolutionary way. Obviously I would like that to be peaceful but I wouldn’t like to predict what is going to happen.”
Twitter: #occupydemocracy / @occupydemocracy / @occupylondon