Police fail to evict Occupy protest
POLICE attempts to remove an encampment by Occupy protesters in Parliament Square on Sunday night failed, leaving between 50 and 100 protesters still there, determined to complete their planned 10-day sit-in opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The occupation began on Saturday afternoon immediately after the 100,000-strong joint trade union protest at low wage levels in Britain.
According to its website, the goal of the Occupy Democracy campaign is to “direct the energy from current single-issue struggles into a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt and unrepresentative system”.
On Sunday night hundreds of police moved on to the Square determined to clear the protesters. They gave the protesters 30 minutes to pack up and leave or face arrest.
Possessing items that could be used for sleeping in Parliament Square was made illegal under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
Officers could be seen dragging away some of the protesters after they refused to leave.
An Occupy spokeswoman described the police action as “absolutely crazy”. She said officers told them that they could not sit on tarpaulins, which were deemed to be “structures”.
Officers did not remove all of the protesters and between 50 and 100 remained in the square late on Sunday night. One person was arrested.
Some of the protesters questioned why they were being removed while the “Occupy” protests in Hong Kong are supported by David Cameron. If they thought about it they could realise that the Hong Kong protest has very different aims to that of the Westminster protest.
In London an Occupy spokesperson said: “We know that democracy is not just about having a vote every four, now five years" say the group, who are now four days into a proposed 10-day occupation of Parliament Square Gardens, "It is about having the power to make your voice heard.
“In the UK today, record numbers of people are homeless, record numbers rely on food banks to feed their families, and record numbers face fuel poverty as energy prices rise eight times faster than wages. At the same time, inequality is back on the rise, making us one of the most unequal countries in the developed world...
“Nobody voted to be made homeless, hungry or unemployed. It is clear whose voices are being heard. We need to start a movement for real democracy... We need to give ourselves the tools to hold our politicians to account, and to end the corporate lobbying power that drowns our voices out.”
A long list of speakers at the protest on Sunday included Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell.
Council wrong to evict refugee and seize his possessions
A HIGH Court judge last week severely criticised Southwark Council for evicting a Sudanese tenant and seizing and destroying all his possessions.
Judge Anthony Thornton QC ruled that housing officers had “entered into a conspiracy to harm” the refugee, to unlawfully evict him from his council flat and destroy his possessions, including memory sticks holding thousands of hours of work, before then covering up their wrongdoing.
The victim, known only as AA, who was granted British citizenship after fleeing Sudan’s civil war in 1985, was made homeless for a year and forced to sleep on the streets after officials acting for Southwark Borough Council entered his home while he attended a court hearing in April last year over rent arrears of £18 per week.
All his possessions, including his passport, credit cards, furniture and computer equipment containing several years of research and personal material, were removed on the day of the eviction and destroyed in a waste disposal facility.
Judge Thornton said: “The various officers conspired to evict AA by unlawful means, to seize and destroy his possessions by unlawful means and to cause him harm and loss by evicting him and dispossessing him of his possessions.”
In his own complaint, AA, who had sought £2.4 million in damages, said he felt he had been “robbed of my dignity and pride” by the local authority.