View from the front line
1500 BST, Saturday, October 15.
Passing through the police lines towards the swarms of protesters surrounding St Pauls Cathedral, an officer warned that while people were free to move in and out of the controlled area, if the crowd atmosphere changed a ‘kettle’ system would be enforced, trapping everyone between the lines. I was keen to be in the thick of the action and moved in anyway.
I was immediately struck by the diversity of the movement. There were many different types of people, races, and agendas within the group, which was thousands strong: from British, to Americans, to Spanish. It was a carnival atmosphere, and generally pleasant, with the sound of drums booming out at regular intervals.
Anna, a 20 year-old Spanish student, told me she was joining the protest to “show solidarity to those in Spain who are suffering the effects of the economy,” while being part of the wider global movement.
On many of the protesters causes, opinions were split. Although a speech given by Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, was certainly a talking point, not everyone was pleased by his presence. As he vacated the area one girl screamed “we love you Julian.” Another immediately replied “he’s a self-publicist”. (blog continues below)
Meanwhile, Twitter was alive with live reports and protestors calling for supplies. Another moment of note was a man dressed as a banker, covered in blood and carrying a briefcase plastered with notes, doing a sketch about the “greed” of the industry. I must admit, I found it entirely ironic that there was a large queue of people waiting for coffee outside Starbucks.
As darkness fell, the party atmosphere turned edgy as police lines advanced on protesters, clearing the cathedral’s steps. As tents were erected, and small skirmishes broke out, it was time to leave.
Several hundred people spent the night in tents. When Reverend Giles Fraser, the canon chancellor of St Paul’s, gave protesters his blessing on Sunday, police backed off.