Update: London police torment #OccupyDemocracy protestors on Parliament Square
Overnight in Parliament Square, #OccupyDemocracy protestors aiming to draw attention to the growing democratic deficit in the UK, have been enduring systematic torment from the Metropolitan Police and Heritage Wardens, who have been zealously enforcing new restrictions on the right to protest and assembly in the Square (Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011).
The reaction of the Police and the State to the #OccupyDemocracy protest is in complete juxtaposition to David Cameron’s recent comments regarding the Occupy Central pro-democracy demonstrations in Kong Kong, when he said that “rights and freedoms, including those of person, of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel, of movement, and, indeed, of strike … These are important freedoms … which, most of all, we should stand up for.” 
Timeline of #OccupyDemocracy
- 5pm Friday 17 October – Occupation begins on Parliament Square with an overnight vigil to mark the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty with speakers from groups including War on Want, Fuel Poverty Action and Reverend Dr Keith Hebden (author of Seeking Justice: The Radical Compassion of Jesus). Throughout the night protestors’ right to assemble and protest were contravened – with protestors not being allowed to rest and being forced onto the pavement.
- Daytime Saturday 18 October – Protestors support the TUC March.
- 7-10pm Saturday 18 October – Scuffles instigated by police against protestors as Heritage Wardens instruct that the protestors should be removed. Police kettle the protestors. Two protestors are assaulted, several personal items removed. Banners calling for “Real Democracy Now!” and a small, battery-powered sound system – used by speakers such as Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell to address the crowd – were all confiscated by the police. Later witnesses say that journalists and photographers were denied access to the protest by the police and removed from the Square. At around 10pm the police back off.
- 2am Sunday 19 October – Whilst protestors try to rest police arrest attempts were made with further harassment of the group who were huddled together in the mud. Police also confiscated cardboard that protestors had been using to keep warm. One protestor, a 24 year old woman from Manchester, reported that she was not permitted to lean against her own bag as it was camping equipment. Another woman, 65, has an air mattress literally pulled from under her, casting her to the ground.
- 7am Sunday 19 October – Things calm until 7am when the police entered the gathered crowd to remove printed materials including banners, hand held signs and a flag displaying a rainbow and the word ‘Peace’. A woman had the occupation’s Safer Spaces sign ripped from her hands as she shouted ‘No’ – this sign set out the ground rules for behaviour to ensure every individual feels safe, comfortable and welcome.
- 10.30am Sunday 19 October – Another protestor arrested – police allege that he cut a piece of string.
- Upcoming – Sundays’ theme is “taming the power of finance” featuring speakers and workshops from UK Uncut, Tax Justice Network, New Economics Foundation and the Robin Hood Tax campaign.
- On Monday the focus is on the attacks on our public services including NHS privatisation and cuts in welfare benefits.
- Details of planned events for the rest of the week at the #occupydemocracy protest can be found at https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/.
The protest, organised by #OccupyDemocracy – a group that grew out of Occupy London – is demanding reforms to our democratic process so that it serves the public interest, rather than the interests of corporations, banks and a tiny wealthy elite.
Alison Playford from #OccupyDemocracy said: “The way the State has responded to our protest with this political policing just shows how frightened the elite are of a new movement pushing for radical democratic reform.”
Amongst the flurry of support coming in via social media, support includes:
Labour MP John McDonnell who also spoke at the protest said:
“When politicians and parties ignore them, people have no other option but to take direct action. Occupy Democracy is a way people can have their voice heard.”
Donnachadh McCarthy, the whistleblowing former Deputy Chair of the Liberal Democrats and author of The Prostitute State who also spoke yesterday said:
“Our political parties have been hijacked by the corporate lobbying classes, our media perverted by a handful of extreme right-wing billionaires, our tax system plundered by the tax-haven elite and our think-tanks, schools and universities increasingly corporately manipulated. Britain is no longer a democracy but a Prostitute State, which is reflected by the rise of UKIP. We desperately need a 21st Century Great Democratic Reform Act to re-gain our democracy for the sake of social and political justice and the very future of our planet’s ecosystems.”