Sunday, 23 October 2011

Update on St Paul's Cathedral and the protesters

Sunday afternoon/Monday morning news reports:

Guardian
Peter Walker Occupy protesters seek explanation over cathedral’s call to move on

Peter Walker and Riazat Butt St Paul’s may seek injunction to move Occupy London activists

…With the deadlock seemingly set to continue, St Paul’s and other nearby institutions have consulted lawyers about possible efforts to forcibly evict the protesters. Cathedral staff were due to hold an emergency meeting with fire officers, police and officials from the Corporation of London, which administers the City district, on Monday. A St Paul’s spokesman, the Reverand Rob Marshall, said the impact of the closure would be felt more intensively next week as tourist numbers swell during half-term.

“The penny is dropping,” he said. “Half-term has started and we’ve got hundreds and thousands of visitors from around the world in London. It will soon begin to dawn that the cathedral will not be open for the foreseeable future. It’s such a chunk of a visitor’s itinerary and there will be a momentum that this is a reality. If there is no sign of movement in the early part of the week there will be further negotiations.”

The Corporation of London has not commented publicly since Friday, when it also called on the camp to disband. But the organisation is known to have consulted lawyers about how an eviction might take place, and whether the legal options could even include an emergency injunction to clear the space immediately.

But this is seen as a last resort. Aside from the potential public relations disaster of police officers dragging peaceful protesters from their tents in the shadow of a cathedral, eviction proceedings would most likely take some weeks.

Part of the land housing the camp is owned by St Paul’s, who would need to take action for trespass, while other parts belong to the Corporation, requiring a case under laws relating to obstruction of the highways. The Occupy movement has said it, too, has been taking legal advice, and cannot be expected to leave voluntarily without more information from St Paul’s…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 23 October 2011 at 11:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

Absolutely, utterly shocking. If this is the way that the institutional church is going to treat those who stand for the poor and marginalized, and against corruption and abuse of power, we might as well shut it down now. There is no Gospel here.

Posted by: Doxy on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 12:28am BST

"Church officials say the closure is costing St. Paul's about 20,000 Pounds a day in lost revenue."

It all boils down to money, the god we all REALLY believe in despite what we say we believe in.

Police beating and tear-gassing unarmed and peaceful protesters outside the cathedral, now there's a fine prospect. Maybe Marx was right all along. The priest really is the landlord's best friend.

The Yiddish word shanda comes to mind.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 1:06am BST

What was it the guy sang ..." so you say you want a revolution... we all want to change the world"

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 1:09am BST

This is very sad. Not being there, I cannot say whether there is fault or where it lies, but it does seem that some accommodation can be made to keep both vital enterprises flourishing. I can't help wondering whether the Cathedral is not making too much of the anticipated fear of crowds for its patrons and the camp giving too little heed to the problems of flammables. There does seem to be a lot of room for negotiation still, and I hope that neither side has given up on this, despite the ominous call for lawyers.

Posted by: F. Harry Stowe on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 3:39am BST

I wonder whether any of the simplistic critics of the Dean & Chapter are fans of Giles Fraser. He is one of the Chapter and, like the rest of them, is neither a fool nor a villain.

Why wouldn't we start with the basic assumption that the D&C are being as careful about this as they can?

And as for the mammon nonsense: remember that the staff who are needed to run the place still have to be paid when it is forced to close. Or should they not be paid?

That said, I, too hope all this can be settled without any lawyers.

And as for, 'Police beating and tear-gassing unarmed and peaceful protesters outside the cathedral, now there's a fine prospect. Maybe Marx was right all along. The priest really is the landlord's best friend'... Thanks for this valuable contribution, Counterheat.

Posted by: Lister Tonge on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 9:31am BST

The demonstrators will be delighted by these developments. By chosing the forecourt of St Paul's as the scene of their activities they knew they had the cathedral caught in a cleft stick. They have been banned from the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, yet don't have the guts to try and resist it. Much as I detest bankers, I find the demonstrators equally despicable, mainly ecause they are middle-class agitators from whose company the poor are conspicously absent. They could not afford the expensive tents and the paraphanalia that goes with them.

Posted by: John Bowles on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 10:54am BST

I feel desperately sad that the Cathedral has changed its stance towards the protesters. This was one public occasion when we had the chance to make a statement as to the Church's position on greed, poverty, injustice, and the distribution of wealth, and to side with those who are taking a stand against so-called maket forces, which are our modern God. It is bad enough that it wasn't the Church which was making the point in the first place! The episode of the cleansing of the temple comes to mind. Instead od which, we will be seen, fairly or not, as being in bed with the powers-that-be and ignoring the cries of the voiceless.
Gerry Reilly

Posted by: Gerry Reilly on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 12:47pm BST

"Aside from the potential public relations disaster of police officers dragging peaceful protesters from their tents in the shadow of a cathedral..."

That didn't seem to deter the riot squad in Melbourne last week.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 12:54pm BST

Over and over again, I am disappointed with the positions taken by the church. "Christ" is an institution having nothing to do with Christ.

Posted by: Uriel on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 3:11pm BST

"What was it the guy sang" in an attempt to hang on to his Green Card?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 3:59pm BST

At the very least, the Cathedral should be blamed for having failed to articulate its reasoning persuasively. I believe the chapter of St Paul's are neither fools nor villains, and I'm sure their motives are not bad ones (much as I resent paying fourteen pounds to enter any house of prayer).

But their justifications for the closure look risibly weak, I'm afraid, especially when pitted against the headline in the godless Guardian reading "Would Jesus kick the Occupy London Protesters off St Paul's Grounds?" At the very least, the Dean needs to come out of hiding and make an effort to persuade the protestors and the public that this was an unavoidable step. I am confident that the occupiers will act like reasonable adults if the Cathedral does likewise.

Posted by: rjb on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 5:05pm BST

I'm not familliar with the physical layout of St. Paul's but like the Abbey it must have more than one way in and one way out. Creative management might put a sign up saying that until futher notice visitors to the cathedral should use another entrance.. Might let both sides accomplish what they seek.

Posted by: Rae Fletcher on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 7:12pm BST

The protesters may be middle class, but they weren't the ones who made out like bandits while destroying the world economy and livelihoods of millions of people, including a lot of middle class Brits. I fail to see the cause for all the malice and bile towards them. You could make the exact same argument for those camped out in Tien Anmen Square in 1989, all university students, all children of privilege (probably even more so than the crowd outside St. Paul's now). Does their even more privileged status diminish their courage or pardon what happened to them? The Chinese regime would say yes it does. I wouldn't, and neither would most other people not trying to cling to power over a huge wealthy turbulent country.

Money is power in this day and age, and the powers of the state (and its church) are with the Stock Exchange down the street. I don't give a damn if they sleep in tents of silk damask upon down pillows, it's a brave thing to stare down a corporate state and its enforcers, especially after it betrayed the trust of its many many small shareholders.

Posted by: Counterlight on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 8:04pm BST

One thing is for certain, the cathedral's actions have caused Canon Fraser to lose face, and as far as I'm concerned, he's the most relevant force that institution has. A sad thing, and ultimately not handled well by all parties.

Posted by: evensongjunkie on Monday, 24 October 2011 at 9:44pm BST

Until we recognise that we are all complicit in this, things will not change. It's easy to point the finger at bankers - what about the debt, rampant consumerism and bank loans that everyone has built up over the last few years. The rich West - that means you and me - have been squandering the resources of the poorest generations.

Posted by: William on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 at 9:08am BST

That is true, William - but it is also true that we get sucked into the system to a degree. I, personally, have never lived a life of rampant consumerism based upon unreasonable debt. But like it or not my few savings are part of the current system and I wish they were not.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 at 10:26am BST

William,
if my daughters don't take on horrendous debts they won't end up with an education. And if they don't end up finding someone who will lend them enough for a mortgage they end up in the rental sector that charges higher monthly rents than mortgage repayments would be and that often stipulates "no children, no pets".

What shall we do about those loans and about living responsible lives? That's precisely one of the questions the movement is asking.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 at 1:03pm BST

William,

To a great extent, in the U. S., at least, the past two or three generations have not had a lot of choice in the matter. Like Erika - who is, I believe, outside the U. S. - we are forced to choose between education or crushing debt. Without the education, particularly in a technologically-developed country, you'll be working three, four, even five jobs to make ends meet in a typical urban area. Living off the land is no longer feasible.

Now, to the extent that we could throw away all the trappings of modern life, including the latest in health-care, technological luxuries like tv, phones, computers, heating and air-conditioning (not being sarcastic - these are luxuries!), you are right, we can break the cycle.

How many do you know can do that? I'm sitting here typing on a pc, so I know I can't.

I would love to see our "more-than-needed" addiction broken, BUT . . . until we break the addiction of those in power (and money is power in a capitalist state) over us to "FAR-more-than-needed," we won't be able to crawl out of this nightmare. That addiction will have to be forcibly overcome, though non-violently, I hope.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 5:10am BST

Excuse me - forced to choose between *lack of* education or crushing debt.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 8:12am BST

Perhaps if evictions are forced it would be apposite to rename it Saul's Cathedral?

Posted by: andy kerrigan on Wednesday, 26 October 2011 at 3:16pm BST
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