St Paul's chancellor says police should leave protesters alone

By staff writers
16 Oct 2011

The canon chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral in London, the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, has asked the police to leave the area occupied by protesters against corporate financial greed outside the church.

As part of a global wave of grassroots demonstrations, some 200 protesters have camped outside St Paul's, saying they will continue to occupy the site in opposition to the way governments are responding to the global economic crisis by bailing out the wealthy who caused it, while making ordinary people and the poorest and most vulnerable pay.

Dr Fraser, who is a well-known media personality, said that the protests had been peaceful.

He declared: "I think people have a right to protest, and I'm very happy that people have a right to protest. And people are being generally respectful."

The canon chancellor, who is responsible for operations at the cathedral, added this morning: "I've asked the police to move off the steps and they're doing so. They're going to be doing so in a second. And it seems to be everything is calm and all is well."

The London demonstration is inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests in the United States, which have been taking place in the financial district of New York and elsewhere for a month.

In Britain the largest protests have been in Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh, in addition to London.

The protests in the UK capital began on Saturday 15 October and are set to continue today. Several thousand people gathered in the City of London to voice objection to corporate greed and to call for just economics.

Last night there were accusations of rough tactics by the police, who have come under criticism recently for the use of 'kettling' tactics against students and anti-cuts protesters.

Activists taking part in the protests carried banners with slogans such as "We are the 99%" and "Bankers got a bailout, we got sold out".

After a cold night camped out in tents and sleeping bags near the London Stock Exchange, demonstrators continued their protests on Sunday morning and got a welcome boost from the staff at St Paul's.

Church services at the Cathedral have gone ahead as planned.

Demonstrations of a similar kind have been taking place in around 1,000 major cities in 82 countries across the world.

One demonstrator told Sky News: "We hope that we can show people that it's not fair for a system which rewards bankers by bailing them out when they get things wrong but rewarding them with bonuses when they get things right. All the risk is on the taxpayer. We always end up paying and they always end up winning."

A section 60aa order - which gives officers the power to force people to remove masks covering their faces - is currently in place in the City of London, but demonstrators say they will not relent.

[Ekk/3]

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