Occupy London Runs Into Trouble at Its Home Base

london tents photo

Photo: B. Alter

Occupy London (or Occupy LSX--London Stock Exchange) has its home base outside St. Paul's Cathedral in the financial district of London. It has been located there, close to the London Stock Exchange, since October 15, in solidarity with groups across the world.

But now, with a growing group of tents and demonstrators, the owners of the property--St. Paul's Cathedral--have gotten cold feet. They have shut down the historic Cathedral to all worshippers and tourists for the first time since World War 2. This is a big problem for the Church and Occupy LSX.


Photo: B. Alter

Relations started off well with the Church, especially when its Canon Chancellor endorsed the protest last week, saying that "People have a right to protest and I'm very happy that people have that right to protest. People have generally been respectful and I have asked the police to leave, they are going to be doing so in a second. It seems to me that all is well and calm".

Since then, however, things have gone downhill rapidly. The Church officials have become concerned about the size of the camp, fear of fire due to cooking, sanitary conditions and access to the Cathedral. They are most concerned because St. Paul's is one of the ten most popular tourist attractions in London and the tourists aren't coming now. Sales in the shop have dropped and no one is stopping by the cafe. The Church claims that it is losing £20,000 ($32,000) a day in revenue.

church police photo

photo: B. Alter

The Church called in Health & Safety Officials, the bane of all existence, and their report was very bad news.

Occupy London disagrees with the report. In an Open Letter to the Church they say:

"We have endeavoured to clarify perceived health and safety issues and continue to place these as a priority for the health and safety of everyone, both inside and outside of this historic Cathedral.

Unfortunately, despite our requests of the Cathedral, they have not provided us with details and information as to how we are perceived to be threatening health and safety. We once again urge the Cathedral to bring to our attention, immediately, the particular details of the health and safety issues to address them. Our concern is if there are health and safety issues (which we in any event refute) by the Church failing to tell of them, they are exacerbating any perceived dangers."

tent city photo

Photo: B. Alter

The Church is now in a very difficult position. They are consulting lawyers about a possible eviction whilst many are accusing them of being in the hands of the financial establishment. Occupy London protesters are refusing to leave, but the camp has spread to a second near-by location, Finsbury Square, and the stand-off continues.

Occupy London Runs Into Trouble at Its Home Base
Occupy Londonhas its home base outside St. Paul's Cathedral in the financial district of London.

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