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'Occupy' Protesters Set Up Camp at St. Paul's in London

Ted Kemp and Catherine Boyle|Senior News Editor and Staff Writer
Sunday, 16 Oct 2011 | 9:32 AM ET

Protesters remained camped out around London's St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday after a largely peaceful demonstration that sprang up around the church a day earlier.

St. Paul's Cathedral in central London forms the backdrop for protestors, called the "99 Percent," who are angry at what they see as an increased disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.
Photo: Ted Kemp for CNBC.com
St. Paul's Cathedral in central London forms the backdrop for protestors, called the "99 Percent," who are angry at what they see as an increased disparity in wealth between the very rich and everyone else in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

Roughly 300 protesters from "Occupy the London Stock Exchange" (OccupyLSX) held down a small tent city, as parishioners made their way past to services and a large police presence monitored the situation closely. About 3,000 protesters showed up at the Cathedral, which is in close proximity to the exchange, on Saturday night.

Occupy organizers had advised demonstrators in advance to bring food and water, tents and sleeping bags if they planned to camp out.

The encampment also held a small first aid station and a row of portable toilets of the type seen at construction sites or outdoor festivals.

London protesters must cope with a major disadvantage compared with New York's Wall Street protesters, who have been able to base themselves at Zuccotti Park: The area immediately in front of the London Stock Exchange is actually private land, so they are legally forbidden from occupying it.

A highly visible police presence stood ready near the exchange in Paternoster Squareand around the cathedral, with helicopters buzzing overhead, police vans blocking pedestrian access to the area, and troops of officers patrolling on horseback.

Police occupied the area around the exchange Saturday morning, well before protesters arrived.

The '99 Percent'

One of the movement's aims is to generate more coverage for what they call "the 99 percent"—people who are aggrieved with the way the credit crisis has been handledbut feel that policymakers are not listening to their complaints.

“Why are we paying for a crisis the banks caused?" asked Laura Taylor, a supporter of OccupyLSX.

"More than a million people have lost their jobs and tens of thousands of homes have been repossessed, while small businesses are struggling to survive. Yet bankers continue to make billions in profit and pay themselves enormous bonuses, even after we bailed them out with 850 billion pounds ($1.3 trillion—estimated cost of the British banking bailout according to the UK's National Audit Office)."

While the protests have the support of established protest groups such as anti-austerity activists UK Uncut, organizers say many of those expressing an interest so far are not seasoned protesters.