Reports from the wave of occupations that has spread across the USA and now the world inspired by Occupy Wall Street.
Celebrating two years of regular film screenings at OARC, East Oxford Community Centre, Oxford Indymedia presents the new independent film Secret City, on Sunday 3rd March from 7pm. For this Oxford Premier, we are pleased to be joined by film makers Lee Salter and Michael Chanan, who will be presenting the film and doing a Q&A session afterwards.
The City of London is an anomaly in UK democracy. With just 7,000 permanent residents and the lowest car ownership in the country, its own police force, its arcane system of self-government with its Lord Mayor, Livery Companies and Alderman, businesses that have the right to vote and it’s direct accountability to the Crown rather than Parliament, the City houses the one of the Globe's key financial centres and the Inns of Court, the heart of the UK’s legal system. The City is the place where banks, brokers, insurers and other money-makers enjoy their unimpeded ascendancy.
The Occupy LSX movement, which arose in 2011, once again drew public attention to the unprecedented political and financial status the City enjoys; largely unchanged since William the Conqueror's time. Secret City will take us on a tour of key City locations by an Occupy activist, Liam Taylor and delve into the history and mystery of the UK's most powerful centre.
The night will be held downstairs in the bar where Catweazel Club is normally held, so there will be refreshments on tap and in bottle for the night. Come along and watch the film and celebrate two years of screenings with Oxford Indymedia.
Update (20/05/12): After a month, Occupy Brookes decided to pack up. The camp's demands were almost entirely ignored by management but many people nevertheless felt it was a valuable experience, building links, raising awareness, and establishing a precedent for action that can be taken further in the future.
Since Wednesday 18th April, a group of Oxford Brookes students and supporters have been camping in front of Gipsy Lane campus to demand free education for all, and more specifically and immediately, that the University switch from fee waivers to bursaries.
The camp has now survived over two weeks of extremely wet weather, hosted various workshops and discussions, and received lots of verbal support and sympathy. A letter containing 3 basic demands was sent to the authorities early on, but there has been no substantial response from them, and the group's next steps have yet to be decided.
Anyone supportive or curious is very welcome to come visit or stay, and upcoming workshops and meetings are listed on the blog.
On Saturday night there a Occupy Sheffield Benefit Bonanza at the Dove and Rainbow with Roy Bailey at 8pm. Last winter Roy Bailey played a set at the Sheffield University Occupation and you can listen to that here.
Sheffield Cathedral has served court papers on Occupy Sheffield, there is to be a court hearing on Thursday 26th January and the Cathedral, representing the establishment, is trying to scare Occupy Sheffield and especially the people named in the papers with the threat of costs being awarded against them. The Citadel of Hope has been secured for a month following a court case and agreement with the owner.
Newswire: Occupy Sheffield's Rally for the 99% | Cooperatives, Credit Unions and Experience of a Social Care Coop | Richard Murphy Talk on UK Tax from Occupy Conference | What the Third National Occupy UK Conference Can Teach Us
As UK occupations squat more buildings the police, many of whom have criminal records, are flouting the law to harass protesters, the Lords are debating making squatting residential buildings illegal, the government plans to make hundreds of thousands homeless and Occupy LSX is threatened with eviction.
On 8th January 2012 40-50 police officers raided the Railton Hotel, next to the train station in Lancaster, which had been squatted by Occupy Lancaster the day before. At approximately 8.15 pm, the police used a battering ram to break through the front door. Once they had gained entry, the police arrested the four occupants who were inside at the time. The Occupiers secured the building legally, and displayed notices of Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 on the exterior of the building, but the police paid no heed to the law and Occupy Lancaster are now seeking legal advice.
Also on 8th January undercover police arrested 3 occupiers at Occupy Liverpool on suspicion of possession; none were found to be in possession of "controlled substances". Twenty or so police then surrounded the occupied building stating that it was a crime scene and laid siege to it for 3 hours. Like Occupy Lancaster a Section 6 notice was displayed but the police acted as as if squatting was already illegal.
Newswire: Eviction - Press Release: 9/1/12 from Occupy Lancaster! | Legal help required | Police Harass Occupy Liverpool at Legal Squat | Police raid on Occupy Lancaster | Occupy Sheffield Statement on the occupation of the Citadel Of Hope | Salvation Army Citadel Occupied and renamed Citadel Of Hope
Students have once again begun a round of occupations on university campuses, this time in solidarity with the N30 day of action, and in opposition to the White Paper on Higher Education which will give the private sector almost complete control over higher education and knowledge production.
Update: Friday 25/11: The occupation of the north gate ended last night after Birmingham University gained an immediate interim possession order. There is another occupation planned today where protestors will be doing a 'run for their money'.
At Birmingham University, students have squatted an abandoned gate house on campus. Earlier this month they also occupied the University's Corporate Convention Centre. With scenes reminiscent of the 2009 occupation in solidarity with Gaza, the University attempted to deny occupiers essential supplies of food and water. In the early hours of the morning a crowd formed in solidarity with the occupiers and they managed to get past security and deliver some vital food supplies. Since then the occupiers have had a rough night and have been subjected to violence and harrasement from the University's security. At a former occupation of the University's 'Physics Bridge' a similar assault occurred. The occupiers have responded with a statement condemning the repression and victimisation. They have pointed out that the University's plans to 'prettify' the campus and it's intention to cut courses, jobs, access schemes and bursaries are completely at odds with defending universal access to education.
University occupations have also started In Edinburgh, Warwick, York, London and Cambridge. In the USA UC Davis students have been subjected to repression as they struggle against increased tuition fees and police brutality on campus. [More]
From the newswires:
'No platform for filth' | Analysis of the white paper | Rough night for Birmingham occupiers | David Willetts Silenced | St. Andrews in Third Occupation | New site occupied in Bloomsbury
Last night student activists reoccupied the University of Birmingham by squatting a disused former gatehouse at the north gate. This is the second time the university has been occupied this month and was part of a day of action called by NCAFC after the N9 demo. Occupations have become a regular occurrence at the university so this time the occupation has been escalated by actually squatting a disused building.
The day of action was well publicised and the University were keen to avoid the further embarrassment of another occupation so sent out letters to all departments which included the following paragraph “The planned student protest for 23rd November is targeting University administrative hubs. Whilst the Aston Webb and other locations will be subject to the usual security measures, please consider the security of your College hub as these might also be prone to occupation.”
Despite these measures students easily managed to outwit security by beginning the occupation at around 12:40am in the morning in an unused building on the north gate. A statement on the Defend Birmingham websites states: “We have done this because despite the university and government taking increasingly regressive measures to make universities inaccessible, we are determined to keep the gates open. Our aim is to advance a set of demands centred on justice in education and educational institutions. We want people to be treated as human beings and the university to be run for public good, not as a business.”
At around 11:15 The University security started refusing entry in and out of the occupation denying the students access to food and water in an effort to drive them out. At 1:40 a crowd formed to show their support outside the building and at 1:49 managed to get past security and deliver some food.
Previous features: "You Can Shove Your Rubber Bullets Up Your Arse!": 'Total Policing' of N9 Demos |Birmingham University Students Occupy Corporate Conference Centre | Political policing in Birmingham | Council House & universities occupied: students reject cuts and fees hike
Links: Defend Birmingham
The occupy movements around the world are reaching crunch time this week as it kicks off in New York and London is served with an eviction notice from The City of London Corporation.
On November 4th, representatives from the Occupy LSX camp met with their opposite numbers from The City of London Corporation, at the corporation's request (See SchNEWS 795). During this meeting it was proposed that as long as the camp was able to clear some space for Fire Brigade access they would be allowed to remain without legal persecution until after Christmas. The next day, as this proposal was going through consensus at the camp, the corporation added no less than 12 added extras, ranging from demanding that the camp recognised itself as unlawful, that it was trespassing and preventing freedom of movement for the public, and that the corporation had the right to sue for possession of the area -- to name but a few. These extras were not announced to the press and kept as quiet as possible. Occupy LSX rejected the terms, and responded with a few demands of their own. Demands that any other Local Authority in the country would be legally obliged to fulfil, but which The City of London Corporation remain scarily exempt from. Simply, the camp asked that the corporation: 1) Publish full, year-by-year breakdowns of the City Cash account, future and historic; 2) Make the entirety of its activities subject to the Freedom of Information Act; and 3) Detail all advocacy undertaken on behalf of the banking and finance industries, since the 2008 financial crash. The Corporation doesn't have to do any of this because it is in fact a medieval hangover (officially entitled The M*ay*or and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London)which has gone unreformed for centuries -- it's a local authority whose electorate is composed almost entirely of businesses- as such it is a powerful advocate for the financial capital. [More + list of local Occupy camps]
Latest from the Newswires:
Occupy Notts Camp | Bank Buildings occupied in London | Bristol: Occupy starts hitting its stride? | Occupy Movement: where next? | Occupy Manchester Returns | Occupy The Library | Occupy Everywhere Topic
Several empty buildings in Oxford have recently been opened as squatted social centres. In August an empty industrial workshop on Randolph Street was squatted. After several "Free Uni" events (sharing skills and ideas), community meals, film and info-nights the court process provided only a short delay and then eviction. The building now remains unused.
Undeterred, the social centre, known as "Plebs' College" due to the focus on free education, has re-opened on Union Street, with a multitude of weekly events. Again they are under threat of eviction from a landlord keen to demolish the place and build student flats. This space where people can gather, meet, organise and learn, as equals, free of the usual commercial or bureaucratic pressures, may be a glimpse of another society.
For hints of a more brutal future, we can look at the recent eviction of Dale Farm: an entire community made homeless, while those who resist are kicked, tasered, batoned, pressured-pointed, or beaten, and the media continue their lies.
Which path we take could depend on the actions we all take in the next few years.
On 5th November a Occupy Sheffield camp was established outside Sheffield Cathedral (map). After discussing where to camp at a meeting on the steps of the City Hall it was agreed to set up camp at the Cathedral. Posters and flyers you can print, to spread the word, have been produced by the Sheffield Equality Group.
Newswire: #OccupySheffield 15th October Solidarity Protest | Occupy Sheffield General Assembly 24th Oct | Occupy Sheffield Meeting Tonight | Sheffield Occupied! | Help needed at Occupy Sheffield! | Billy Bragg to sing at Occupy Sheffield | SmashEDO Tour comes to #OccupySheffield | Smash EDO Talk at Occupy Sheffield | Billy Bragg at Occupy Sheffield | Occupy Movement: where next? | Occupy Anthems - Gamblin's for Fools | The 1%'s New Battle: Selling War on Iran | Sheffield University occupied | EveryBody Out | Sheffield Occupation Official Statement | Occupy Planet Earth: Resisting the Militarisation of State Power | Sheffield University Occupation: Official Statement on the Court Injunction
UK Occupations: Bath | Birmingham | Bournemouth | Bradford | Brighton | Bristol | Cardiff | Edinburgh | Glasgow | Leeds | London Finsbury Square | London Stock Exchange | Newcastle | Norwich | Nottingham
On November 2nd there was a call-out for students and staff at the University of Birmingham to protest against tuition fees, cuts and privatisation. At 2pm they gathered under the University Clock tower to listen to speeches from several students about the effects the rise in tuition fees will have and the negative impacts of privatisation within education. There was concern that the Higher Education White Paper will force Universities to act more like private companies. The government argues that the introduction of competition into the sector will increase choice and quality of education for students. However many of the campaigners felt that this will create a US style model of a few elite, inaccessible universities and a large pool of underfunded poor institutions. There was also anger over the private sector-style pay rises received by the managers at the University. Last year, the Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood received an 11% pay rise increasing his pay to £392,0004. The money the University 'saved' by closing the entire Sociology Department was blown in one year on management pay rises.
Upcoming Protest: N9 Anarchist Bloc on the Student/Education demo