By Steve Rushton
British democracy is locked down, for now.
Police have placed barriers around Parliament Square opposite Westminster in an attempt to barricade Occupy Democracy protests. 15 peaceful citizens were arrested this morning. The occupation that began on Friday is calling for real democracy asserting the current system is in multiple crises: that it serves the needs of the 1%.
Occupy London supporter Daniel Ashman, speaking just before his arrest said:
“This is not democracy, nothing is transparent. We’ve got secret trade deals like TTIP threatening our democracy, fracking going ahead without our consent, NHS privatisation and rapidly increasing inequality. Nobody voted for any of this. We need to stand up and fight for the things that matter. We need to be allowed to speak, say what we want, where we want. Democracy needs to be real democracy, not in name but in how we practice it. We have been oppressed and silenced this morning.”
Today before noon, police violently moved in to remove 40 protesters who stayed out last night without tents to brave the backend of Hurricane Gonzalo, with high winds and torrential rains drenching the pro-democracy advocates. All this, on the square originally designed to enable the public to protest and interact with Parliament.
The arrests included Green Party peer, Baroness Jenny Jones and Donnachadh McCarthy, the former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats. He blew the whistle on the endemic corruption of Westminster.
Each night, the police have been harassing protesters trying to sleep on the square. With strict anti-protest laws enshrined at Parliament Square, the policing at times shifting from the violent to the ridiculous. Masses of riot police have been encircling protesters to remove ground-sheets, tarpaulin, as it constitutes sleeping equipment.
In reaction, the pro-democracy citizens have linked arms, singing, chanting and humming the Star Wars tune – in reference to the Yes rickshaw that welcomed the Labour Party on the streets before the Scottish referendum.
Until today, there has been little media coverage of the occupation, or notable confusion: The London occupation stands in solidarity with the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and points out that its fellow advocates of freedom there are being allowed to hold space, with far less restrictions that in London. But some stories have reported the democracy camp as solely a solidarity protest with Hong Kong.
Other media, such as the BBC, have failed to report the camp, following a pattern familiar to many anti-establishment protests and similar to its near blanket ban on progressive radical Scottish independence ideas.
Since Friday 17th Occupy Democracy has used Parliament Square to host skill-shares, public meetings and talks including Ann Pettifor (New Economics Foundation), John Christensen (Tax Justice Network) and academic-activist David Graeber. With the aim to hold the square until Sunday 26th, each of these days are focused to examine different social justice issues in Britain, from the corporate takeover of public services to creating a renewable based eco-economy system and ending inequality and imperialist wars.
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Categories: Direct Action