Occupy London protesters were evicted from their encampment at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in an overnight operation that resulted in 23 arrests.
City of London Police described the eviction as “largely peaceful” in a statement on its website. Bailiffs employed by the City of London Corp. removed protesters’ tents and equipment from the churchyard.
Occupy London protesters have been camping outside of St. Paul’s since the middle of October. They were inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York, which was evicted on Nov. 15. There is still an Occupy London camp located in Finsbury Square in the borough of Islington.
“This morning, the City of London Corp. and St. Paul’s Cathedral have dismantled a camp and displaced a small community, but they will not derail a movement,” Occupy London said today in an e-mailed statement. “This is only the beginning.”
The protesters were denied permission last week to appeal a court ruling that gave the City of London Corp. permission to proceed with the eviction. About 100 tents were at the site when bailiffs and police arrived last night, said Sanjay Odedra, a spokesman for the City of London Corp.
Protesters from the St. Paul’s camp gathered at Finsbury Square today.
“We’ve always said we’re going to be peaceful protesters,” said Harjeet Kaur, who had been at the St. Paul’s camp since Oct. 15. Kaur said the tactics of the police clearing the camp were “completely over the top.”
“The fact that the Occupy London protests ended with conflict of any kind in this way was avoidable and unnecessary,” Jenny Jones, the Green Party candidate for London mayor and a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, said in a statement.
The church said it regretted that bailiffs had to evict the protesters.
“In the past few months, we have all been made to re-examine important issues about social and economic justice and the role the cathedral can play,” St. Paul’s said in a statement.
Protester George Barda, standing outside St. Paul’s site, said the eviction would mean a loss of visibility for the movement.
“The challenge we now need to respond to is how to remain vibrant and current,” said Barda, 36, a social justice campaigner who has been living at St. Paul’s since October.