There are a number of accounts this morning describing the scene as the police moved into the clear the #occupyLSX protestors encamped at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London last night.
The London Evening Standard reports: “St Paul’s camp: Occupied for 137 days, cleared in 137”
“[A]round a dozen Occupy members made a last stand on top of a hastily erected wooden rig chanting “Whose streets? Our streets”, as around 30 bailiffs began ripping down tents.
Amid shouts of “fascists” and “long live Occupy”, scores of police encircled the cathedral with spotters on top helping to prevent smaller groups of protesters joining those refusing to leave.
After the eviction the protesters moved to Salvation Army offices by Millennium Bridge, but were moved on by City of London Police officers.”
The Guardian has an account which details the late night action:
Shortly after 3am police removed around a dozen demonstrators standing on kitchen shelving as a makeshift fortress as other riot officers with shields advanced along the cathedral steps removing protesters, some of whom were praying.
Among those protesters was Jonathan Bartley, director of the Christian thinktank Ekklesia, who claimed he was kicked repeatedly by police and dragged away from the cathedral.
“What happened is a great sadness – it is exactly as Giles Fraser warned might happen,” he said.
“The tragedy is that while Christians were praying on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, the cathedral gave permission for them to be forcibly and violently removed. The cathedral has backed and colluded in this eviction.”
By 4am, no protesters or camping equipment remained in the square.
No one from St Paul’s Cathedral was available to comment.
Ekklesia has a report “Christians dragged from their knees on cathedral steps”.
Twitter reports and reactions are being organized with the #occupyLSX hashtag.
St. Paul’s Cathedral has posted this statement on their website regarding the action:
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 regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs but we are fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and Institute.
The cathedral is open today and set aside for prayer and reflection. The cathedral is accessible to everyone. The area currently cordoned off is for essential repairs to damaged paving.
Clergy are available throughout the day for pastoral care and support.