London restarts legal action to clear St Paul's camp
Anti-capitalism protesters outside St Paul's Cathedral voiced defiance Tuesday after London authorities resumed legal action against them, and police in New York cleared the camp which inspired them.
The City of London Corporation said in a statement it had voted to restart litigation to clear dozens of tents which have been lodged at the foot of the iconic church in the financial district for exactly one month.
The announcement came just hours after US police flooded into the New York cradle of anti-Wall Street protests, forcing out demonstrators and tearing down tents in a surprise strike.
"We paused legal action for two weeks for talks with those in the camp on how to shrink the extent of the tents and to set a departure date -- but got nowhere," said Stuart Fraser, the authority's policy chairman.
"So, sadly, now they have rejected a reasonable offer to let them stay until the New Year, its got to be the courts."
The corporation said it expected to hand the protesters a legal notice on Wednesday giving them 24 hours to leave, and that they would take the case to London's High Court if they refused.
Occupy LSX (London Stock Exchange) spokesman Spyro Van Leemnen said the protesters would fight on.
"We are definitely disappointed that the Corporation of London has decided to cut off the process of dialogue at their end," Van Leemnen told AFP.
"It was expected though, as they made clear before that they had only paused legal action and had not withdrawn it.
"We are prepared to respond, we have a great legal team on board and will fight this in the high court."
Asked about the timing of the London authorities' announcement on the same day as the Wall Street clear-out, he said: "I would like to think it is a coincidence, but it is probably a sign that they want to show some power.
"Obviously this protest, which has been peaceful since day one, is bothering some people."
Before the Corporation of London's announcement, protesters said they felt the St Paul's camp was carrying the flame for the global movement now that the Wall Street camp had been shut down two months into its existence.
"The eyes of the world are increasingly on Occupy LSX now. We are leading the world's Occupy movement," a wheelchair-bound woman who gave her name as Helen the Hat said in an address to the protesters over a microphone.
Inka Stafrace, a filmmaker and activist, said the clearing of the New York camp was "tragic".
"It's desperately sad, desperately tragic. We hope we can help those people," the dual Australian and Maltese national told AFP.
The camp in London's financial quarter, which features a dining tent, press tent, education tent and other facilities, was buzzing with activity on Tuesday.
Activists said they planned to go to the US embassy in London to protest later.
Anthony Anamasi, a bearded protester originally from New York, said he had been at the London camp since the start.
He vowed that the Occupy movement "will be back" despite the action taken by the New York police.
"It's disgusting (what happened in Wall Street). But this is a long-term movement. This is a movement of right now and we are not going to be stopped," he said.
"We are building a new 'special relationship'. One between the 99 percent here and in New York and around the world, not the one percent.
Britain's business minister Vince Cable said Sunday he sympathised with the St Paul's protesters, saying they reflected the feeling that a very small number of people had done "extraordinarily well" in the economic crisis.
The camp has sharply divided the cathedral's authorities.
It suspended its part in the legal action against the activists and the head of St Paul's, Dr Giles Fraser, resigned rather than see protesters forcibly evicted.
© 2011 AFP