The Occupy camp at St Paul’s has gone, like we knew it would. There’s a certain weary inevitability about police moving in at night – the action started just after midnight – evictions like this always seem to happen under cover of intimidating darkness, but equally there are fewer people around to remove / cause trouble.
Some protesters started packing up after being given a warning (though we’re rather concerned at reports cleaners threw people’s possessions into rubbish trucks), but others built a wooden fort from pallets and more moved to the steps of the cathedral to wait it out. Police dismantled the barricades, plucking protesters off, and then riot police cleared the steps. This is proving to be the most controversial aspect of the operation as the steps belong to St Paul’s, the inference being the cathedral must have requested it. However, the Guardian notes riot police repeatedly dragged protesters off the steps (sometimes the same ones) rather than immediately arresting them. Twenty arrests were made overall.
The School of Ideas was also evicted last night, despite a court case still in progress. Protesters will continue to use the area around St Paul’s; the court order applied only to the actual camp, not the protest.
Occupy themselves have offered a resigned shrug but say this is only the beginning of their attempts to highlight inequality and unfairness. From a statement on their website:
But be assured that plans are already afoot: plans of some ambition, employing a diversity of tactics and delivered with the aplomb you would expect from us. All will be revealed in time. May is one of our favourite months.
Sounds like May Day will be, er, eventful this year.