Occupy London, Zurich protesters also face eviction from camps

The World

Story from PRI’s The World. Listen to the above audio for a complete report.

It’s been a rough day for The Occupy Wall Street movement.

In New York, police cleared Zuccotti Park in a pre-dawn raid. The same thing happened Tuesday morning at a park in Zurich, Switzerland.

And in London, officials say they’re resuming legal action to evict protesters camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Some of those protesters headed over to the U.S. Embassy in London to show solidarity with protesters in New York. Groups of police moved to guard all the entrances to the grass square in front of the building. As soon as a handful of people showed up and hoisted a sign, an officer moved in.

“This with the sign now constitutes an assembly. An assembly of people,” he told the crowd. “I am going to ask you to just step inside the pen. That’s all I want you to do and then your demonstrations, your issues with your own countrymen or what have you, you can deal with them.”

Within minutes about two dozen chanting men and women did as they were told, placing themselves inside a fenced off area to voice their anger at what happened in New York.

“I wanted to ask my ambassador for an explanation as to why Secretary of State Clinton can condemn (Syrian President Bashar) Assad and (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak for suppressing peaceful dissent in the tent cities in Cairo,” said Adam Fitzmorris, an American student who is part of the Occupy London protest. “And yet our government says nothing, in fact encourages brutality in New York, Denver, Oakland, Seattle, Boston.”

The small group that showed up in front of the American embassy lamented events in New York, but they are also keenly aware that the City of London has just announced it is going to court to evict people from the protest camp in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

City official Stuart Fraser expressed solidarity with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an interview with the BBC.

“Do you have a sneaking regard for what Mayor Bloomberg’s done in New York?” the BBC host asked. Fraser laughed and said, “Yes is the answer to that. But the same principle in a way is to remove the protesters in their camp, clean up the park and say look, you can come back and protest but don’t bring your camping equipment. And in that sense it is the same.”

Despite the turnout at the embassy protest, Occupy London’s Naomi Colvin rejected any claim that the movement was losing momentum.

“We know we have substantial public support,” she said. “We have prominent politicians expressing sympathy with why we’re there if not support for us directly.”

Colvin also brushed aside any concern about the city’s legal action, saying both it and this morning’s events in New York don’t signal the beginning of the end for protesters.

“Possibly, some people would like it to be a turning point for the Occupy movement. I don’t think that’s the case at all,” Colvin said. “I am sure, I actually have no doubt at all after what we’ve seen in New York last night the movement – Occupy Wall Street will come back much bigger and stronger than it was before. I don’t think there can be any doubt of that whatsoever.”

There’s also no doubt that the standoff in London will play out very differently.

It may have taken just hours to clear the tents in New York, but it will take months of legal wrangling before there is any chance that police will move in to evict the camp in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral.


PRI’s “The World” is a one-hour, weekday radio news magazine offering a mix of news, features, interviews, and music from around the globe. “The World” is a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston. More about The World.

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