Occupy London Evicted, While US Occupations Gear Up for Action Against ALEC
After outlasting most of the American Occupy encampments for months, the Occupy London camp finally got evicted last night, The Guardian reports.
The ensuing scene was a familiar one for Americans familiar with the trajectories of their local occupations:
It was a moment the protesters had been expecting for five days, since the final appeal against eviction from the outside the cathedral was denied at the court of appeal. The first signs that the authorities were ready to clear the camp, which had stood in the square in front of St Paul's since 15 October came shortly before midnight, as occupiers noticed an unusually high number of police officers in the streets around the site.
"Hearing reports of massed police at St James and London Wall," tweeted Naomi Colvin, a prominent, if unofficial, spokeswoman for Occupy. "Tonight is likely the night."
Within minutes, surrounding streets were blocked off against both traffic and protesters responding to messages to resist or witness the camp's clearance, while groups of blue-overalled police with riot helmets hanging by their sides began forming around the square.
There were other familiar patterns to the eviction ncluding some occupiers climbing trees or elevated pallets, chants calling the police to evict the Stock Exchange instead of the protesters, and some possessions being confiscated.
Some started packing: deflating air mattresses and gathering the possessions from the tents some had lived in for up to four months. Others simply dragged their possessions, tents and all, to the stairs of the cathedral, which the Occupy protesters thought would be safe in the ensuing cleanup.
The reaction of a few dozens others, however, was to begin using wooden pallets and other pieces of debris to build a makeshift fortress on what remained Occupy's "tent university", the large marquee area where the daily lectures, debates and discussions held there had created an atmosphere of problem solving, networking and the generation of ideas.
But despite some standoffs, things proceeded peacefully. Like other occupations, London's will have to regroup and figure out how to keep the spirit of the encampment alive without the space.
Meanwhile in the States, occupiers are gearing up for a major day of action tomorrow (leap day, #F29), called by Occupy Portland, to "shut down the corporations" and call attention to ALEC, the "American Legislative Exchange Council" which is a lobbying group of some of the biggest conglomerates in the states. As the #F29 website explains,
ALEC is one of the most successful mechanisms used by the 1% to control state and federal laws. It is much more than a lobby group. ALEC creates model legislation written to increase the profits of large corporations, and hands it off in secret to lawmakers who then introduce it as their own. ALEC has been responsible for some of the most anti-democratic and repressive legislation to grab headlines in recent history. The anti-union bills which caused massive protests in Wisconsin were written by ALEC, as was the anti-immigrant SB1070 passed in Arizona.
ALEC is particularly successful in driving wedge issues that prevent Americans from uniting based on class solidarity and economic interest. Stay tuned to AlterNet for more on #F29.