#OccupyDemocracy: The return to Parliament Square to build campaign for “Real Democracy Now!”

Twitter: #occupydemocracy / @occupydemocracy / @occupylondon. Websites: https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/ / http://occupylondon.org.uk/

#OccupyDemocracy: The return to Parliament Square to build campaign for “Real Democracy Now!”

#occupydemocracy protesters in court; 21 Nov re-occupation of Parliament Sq; Putney Debates continue

The fight to reclaim democracy in the UK looks set to escalate as #OccupyDemocracy protesters today called upon supporters of democracy to join them as they re-occupy Parliament Square at 6pm on Friday 21 November for a long weekend. [1] The re-occupation – directly in front of the UK’s supposed seat of democracy – aims to continue building the movement for a ‘Real Democracy Now’ that works for the 99%, rather than banks, corporations, and a tiny, wealthy elite.

“If decisions are being made that don’t reflect the will of the people, you have to ask yourself – who do our elected representatives actually represent?” said Occupy activist and writer John Sinha. “Nobody voted for NHS privatisation, tripling of tuition fees, the Bedroom Tax, benefit cuts for people with disabilities, fracking or secret trade deals like TTIP which undermine the sovereignty of Parliament. That is why we are continuing our campaign undaunted.”

Today – #occupydemocracy protesters in court

The move comes as the first of the #OccupyDemocracy arrestees, accused of breaching heavily restrictive Parliament Square bye-laws by peacefully protesting, are due to appear in Westminster Magistrates Court – from 10am daily, 11-13 November. #OccupyDemocracy supporters will be outside the court with banners, placards and tarpaulin. A total of 40 arrests were made – all for non-violent acts of peaceful protest – during the nine-day occupation of Parliament Square, 17-26 October. Witnesses to the policing of the protest have been urged to submit a statement or evidence via Occupy London’s new online submission form. [2]

Ryan O’Sullivan, who was arrested four times during the occupation, said: “We have started a movement which exposes our democracy for the corrupt system it is, so it’s no surprise that the authorities tried to hurry us out of sight. But they underestimated the resilience and will of the people to exercise their right to protest despite the attempts at intimidation.”

House of Lords rattled by #occupydemocracy?

Questions about the cost of the excessive policing operation were raised in the House of Lords on 28 October but Home Office Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Bates, was unable to give a total spending figure. Lord Tebbit referred to the peaceful pro-democracy protesters as “objectionable people”, while Lord Bates described the Establishment’s dilemma as: “[W]hat is a light touch when you are faced with a protest that begins at 50, grows to 100, and then grows overnight to 150?” [3]

Occupier Matilda Wnek responded: “‘A protest that begins at 50, grows to 100, and then grows overnight to 150’ – what could be more democratic than that? The policing was used explicitly to prevent the protest from growing. What they fear is not that #OccupyDemocracy is marginal and extreme as they claim, but that, on the contrary, more and more people will agree with and join us.”

This Sunday – Finale to Occupy London’s successful New Putney Debates

This Sunday16 NovemberOccupy London’s New Putney Debates series concludes with an event exploring Real Democracy. [4] With speakers from the Scottish Radical Independence Campaign, Iceland’s pots & pans revolution, the Spanish Podemos party and Kurdish self-government. The discussion will be held in the same venue as the original debates in 1647 – St Mary’s Church in Putney – when soldiers and officers of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, including civilian representatives of the Levellers, held discussions on the constitution and future of England.

Next week

#OccupyDemocracy will announce further details of its November occupation including: confirmed speakers, an outline programme of events, actions, discussions and entertainment.

Notes for editors:

[1] #OccupyDemocracy (https://occupydemocracy.org.uk/) was formed in March as a working group of Occupy London (http://occupylondon.org.uk/) to build a social movement for genuine democracy that is free from corporate influence. Its first occupation of Parliament Square, 17-26 October 2014, attracted thousands of people over the course of nine days – including prominent figures such as Russell Brand, Ken Loach and Vivienne Westwood; politicians such as Caroline Lucas MP, John McDonnell MP, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Baroness Jenny Jones and Michael Meacher MP; and representatives of dozens of progressive civil society organisations who, in turn represent millions of people, yet have little voice in our democracy.

[2] http://occupylondon.org.uk/call-out-for-evidence-occupydemocracy/

[3] Hansard, 28th October 2014:  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldhansrd/text/141028-0001.htm#st_42

[4] The New Putney Debates: http://thenewputneydebates.com

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