15 Oct 2011

London banks targeted in Occupy Wall Street-style protest

Hundreds of campaigners target London’s City in a bid to replicate New York’s Occupy Wall Street protest. One protester tells Channel 4 News it is “direct democracy” but will stay peaceful.

Occupy Wall Street-style protest targets London banks. (Getty)

In New York hundreds were arrested in rallies against “corporate greed” on Wall Street, but the British wing of the movement – Occupy LSX – vowed to keep its “occupation” near the London Stock Exchange peaceful.

Organiser “Spyro” told Channel 4 News everyone is invited to join them, even the police.

“At this initial stage of the movement the aim is to raise awareness about the unfair economic and political system that seems to be benefiting a handful of international financial institutions, and failing to operate in the interest of the 99 per cent of the population.

“We want to create the space for democratic dialogue, right in the heart of the problem, the City of London, and practice direct democracy from the bottom up.”

This is a peaceful movement. The police belong to the 99 per cent and we hope they join us. Spyro

“This is a peaceful movement. The police belong to the 99 per cent and we hope they join us,” “Spyro” said.

Activists carried bannisters with slogans such as: “We are the 99 per cent” and “Bankers got a bailout, we got sold out”.

A spokesperson for City of London Police told Channel 4 News ahead of the march that “an appropriate policing plan will be in place”, and today a police cordon was in place restricting access to Paternoster Square, where the Stock Exchange is located.

Read more: Hundreds arrested in anti-Wall Street protest

The “occupation”, which featured workshops and discussions, is backed by UK Uncut, with the group calling on its members to attend the protest.

Peter Hodgson, a UK Uncut supporter, said Britain is effectively joining mass demonstrations around the world.

He said: “The success of the square occupations across Spain in calling for democracy and an end to austerity, alongside the rapid growth of the Wall Street occupation, has shown that this is what is needed in London and the UK.

“The government is ignoring its electorate as they impose these austerity measures.”

Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York. (Getty)

In the US, the protests began on 17 September and have since drawn global media attention, from as far away as Iran and China.

Occupations have taken place in both New York’s financial district and in Washington DC.

This week more than 50 college campuses signed up for a solidarity protest in New York, as part of the ongoing movement.

In Italy, protesters are camping near the Bank of Italy to rail against the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

An Occupy Wall Street “sympathy” event has even taken place in Tokyo, Japan.