Occupy London stages 'People's Feast' in contrast to lavish Mayoral banquet

By staff writers
November 15, 2011

Supporters of Occupy London have accused police of using unnecessary force in countering a peaceful protest outside the Lord Mayor's banquet.

Campaigners for social and economic justice staged what they termed "a peaceful direct action: outside the Guildhall, while the new Lord Mayor. David Wooton, lavishly entertained the Prime Minister and his wife, Home Secretary Theresa May, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, Bishop of London Dr Richard Chartres and other guests from the political and social elite.

The peaceful action aimed to highlight the extreme concentration of wealth and power represented at the Guildhall’s flagship event, say its organisers,

In contrast, at the Occupy London Stock Exchange site just by St Paul’s Cathedral, there was a parallel event entitled 'The Banquet for the People'.

The protest has attracted people of all faiths and none, but Christian supporters point out that Jesus called the realm of God a feast, ate with those in society regarded as 'unclean', and invited the poor and downtrodden rather than the wealthy and self-regarding to his banquets.

"What a pity that archbishops and bishops decided to sup with the super-rich rather than join us in our tents," one protester commented to Ekklesia.

However, the major controversy surrounds the police response to the small OccupyLSX action of 20-30 people outside Guildhall.

Protesters were kettled by approximately 40-50 police officers from the Met and City forces, when a section 14 order was put in place around 9.30pm on Monday 14 November 2011, report observers.

Occupy LSX says: "Those inside the kettle were informed that failure to disperse before 11pm would result in arrest – which the campaigners complied with. During the kettle occupiers offered the police chocolate cake, which none of them accepted. Legal observers from Green & Black Cross were also present.

"In the event, five campaigners were arrested at Guildhall, four under section 14 and one for “assaulting a police officer”. According to legal observers, when people left the area they appeared to be arrested for just being there. It was not violent.

"The five people arrested were taken to Bishopsgate Police Station and around 15 occupiers went there to show their support and solidarity for their friends.

"It became evident that, despite the wintry weather outside, the duty officers of Bishopsgate Station were not keen to have protesters staying within the police station. It also appears that they were displeased by the presence of the OccupyLSX livestream crew, who had been filming events throughout the evening.

"More than 3,000 people from around the world were shocked to see unwarranted force being used, without any warning, against peaceful protesters when they were forcibly ejected from Bishopgate Police Station, when watching the OccupyLSX livestream, which was also syndicated on the Global Revolution livestream.

"Two further Occupy London supporters were arrested during the forceful removal from the station, one of whom was attempting to film the incidents with a camera phone. Another campaigner (not arrested) has a suspected broken finger from police using force.

"Occupy London has learned that one protester has been arrested on bail, pending a court appearance next week. Their bail conditions prevent them from visiting the Occupy London St Paul’s site so they will, instead, be transferring to Finsbury Square," concluded the group.

* Occupy London: http://occupylondon.org.uk/

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