By now many of you may have heard of the tent city outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. A couple of weeks ago, I was nearby and I popped over to take a look. For the most part, I admire their determination and resilience. With the colder weather, uncomfortable living conditions (although not all of them stay the night), and tension between the tent dwellers and the city and church it is not the ideal situation. Growing up in America the right to demonstrate is ingrained in me. However I am torn about the tent city outside of St. Paul’s. It saddens me that St. Paul’s Cathedral had to close its doors for the first time since World War II since the protesters refused to remove their tents. Several days ago, the cathedral’s dean said that the demonstrators had overstayed their welcome. When the demonstration was agreed to, was there a timeline of how long it would last? Or did the church realize after the fact that it would be a disruption to them and the surrounding area? On a positive note, the Cathedral is open once again. Unfortunately, three members of the church, including the cathedral’s dean, have resigned. From what I understand, they feared that the situation would end in violence and they could not take part in that.
Also, I am not sure what the protest is really about. They label it as an anti-capitalist protest. What does that mean really? There doesn’t seem to be a cohesive message. According to an article I read in The Sunday Times, the Occupy London Group claims that they now have a finance team and an IT department. In addition, they want to spread out and occupy three new areas in London. Is it a hostile take-over? It could take months, if not years, for the city to have legal rights to remove the protestors.
If you just listen to the complaints from the city and church you might get the impression that the protest is rowdy and a disruption to everyday life. But there are two sides to every story. From what I’ve heard, the occupants of the tents have done all that the city has asked them, aside from leaving, to ensure the safety and health of the tent city and the surrounding area. When I visited the area on a Saturday afternoon, everything seemed peaceful. The tents were neatly organized. The demonstrators seemed polite. There was a speech going on, but everything seemed orderly.
But I still have questions. What is the actual goal of the protest? How long will it last? Do they know what they want to accomplish? And finally, how will it end? For all involved, I hope the end is peaceful.
Please note that I still don’t have internet access at home. I will respond to all of your comments as soon as I can. Thank you for your patience.