Police dressed in riot gear evicted Occupy London and removed the camp’s tents at St. Paul’s Cathedral just after midnight on Tuesday.
Hundreds of police and around 100 bailiffs swarmed the campsite and arrested about 20 individuals, some of whom reportedly tried to form a barricade and set off smoke bombs to prevent officials from clearing the area.
The City of London Corporation commented that it “regretted” having to evict the protesters (photo from Telegraph live coverage).
A group of protesters at one point chained themselves to some wooden pallets as part of a “last stand,” according to a witness on The Guardian live stream.
MSNBC reports that protesters were dragged from the platforms and several key protesters leading the chants were restrained by officers holding onto each limb.
Police also removed one activist from a tree overlooking the site.
The Rev Giles Fraser, who resigned as canon chancellor of St Paul’s in support of the protesters, said: “This is a sad day for the Church.
“Riot police clearing the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral was a terrible sight.”
The St Paul’s spokesman said: “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.
“We are fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and Institute.”
According to the Telegraph, protesters are now considering a proposal from St. Paul’s Cathedral to allow general assemblies to take place outside the building.
Under the plans, which were tabled at the beginning of the protest but remain “on the table”, would involve allowing debates and meetings on the steps of the cathedral once a week on a Saturday afternoon.
The debates, backed by Cathedral officials, would last a couple of hours but would have to finish by 5pm to allow the evening church service to occur.
Senior clergy would consider speaking at the assemblies on a case-by-case basis. Cathedral officials met with Occupy protesters last week to thrash out the details but no agreement was reached. No further meetings were “pencilled in”.
Meanwhile the St Paul’s Institute was continuing to hold its own debates and publishing research on similar topics of “inequality”.
The Occupiers themselves remain ever-vigilant.
“It’s only tents and materials the injunction applies to so I think some protesters will be back here tomorrow,” Gary Sherborne told The Associated Press.
“It’s really sad what’s happening today but I think we can be proud of what we’ve achieved,” said Kai Wargalla, a 27-year-old student from Germany who had camped outside St. Paul’s since October. “Our community is being attacked here, but we’re going to reconvene and come back stronger.”
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