Occupy London

On October 15th 20112, 2000 Anti-capitalist demonstrators gathered on the steps of the St. Paul’s Cathedral to march the London Stock Exchange as part of a global protest at the world banking system. Police kettled the protesters outside the cathedral as the demonstrators gave speeches and set up camp by erecting tents. Thus ‘Occupy London Stock Exchange’ (or ‘Occupy LSX’ as it was known to its residents) was born.

As the Occupy London camp started to swell with tents and tied-together tarpaulin outside St. Paul’s Cathedral another camp site appeared in nearby Finsbury Square in the later weeks. The continual storm clouds that gathered, blew away and gathered again in the shape of the Cathedrals’ Dean repeated calls for the protesters to leave came to nothing. Whilst the late autumn sun shone, the campers continued their occupation as before, not dwelling on the conflict the next days might bring, instead focusing to spreading their message to any walkers-by that might listen.

When Halloweent came the Occupy London campers assembled in one colourful moment outside the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Dressed as zombies they playfully set off to wreak havoc against London’s banks and its corporations. Largely peaceful, it was atypical of their many marches throughout the capital – marked with good natured noise and occasional scuffles with the police who were monitored their every move as they snaked their way towards the financial district.

As winter bit harder the snow piled up around the tents of the Occupy London camp site outside St. Paul’s Cathedral. Many campers started to move on. A deserted building owned by corporate bank UBS became the next focus for many as their latest occupation. Moving in to its 29 Sun Street address the demonstrators set about converting the buliding into a communal “bank of ideas”. Open to all it brought the total number Occupy London encampments to three until they were evicted early one morning a month later.

By February 27th, 2012 Occupy London / Occupy LSX’s energy was all but spent. Sapped by five months of  living rough outdoors, the main camp was now nearly empty. The Finsbury park settlement was a shell of its former self. Most had started to pack up their tents and leave ahead of their imminent eviction which was being regularly foreshadowed in the capital’s free press. A few remaining die-hards filled the tea tent the night before the inevitable, but by now there was little doubt about the final outcome. When it came at 5am the following morning there were few left behind to resist.

Mark Esper
April 2013

Status: Syndicated through Polaris Images.
Prints: Selected prints are available for online purchase.
Image Licensing: Polaris Images.

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