Demonstrators vow to camp outside St Paul's 'indefinitely' as Wall St's day of rage spreads


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Activists occupying the area outside St Paul's Cathedral as part of a global protest against corporate greed last night vowed to remain there indefinitely as similar marches took place in scores of cities around the world.

In scenes resembling New York's Occupy Wall Street event, protesters in London confirmed their long-term ambitions by setting up a makeshift camp with a kitchen, portable toilets, a media centre and more than 75 tents.

"Everyone's calling for a new style of democracy," said Gavin Smart, from Aylesbury. "This isn't a one-week protest – this is an encampment."

Scores of cities in the US and in Europe saw similar "day of rage" protests over the weekend. By last night they were thought to have spread to 950 areas in 82 countries.

The groups all adopted the "We are the 99%" motif – a reference to the richest 1 per cent of the world's population, who control its assets while billions live in poverty.

Between 200 and 300 activists remained at the St Paul's camp last night, with Scotland Yard describing the mood as "calm". It was of stark contrast to the fractious scenes in New York where police made more than 90 arrests over the weekend. The event peaked at dusk when more than a thousand protesters surged into Times Square urging onlookers and tourists to join them as they shouted: "You are the 99 per cent."

Most of the demonstrations in Europe were peaceful, with the exception of Rome, where violence broke out when masked protesters torched cars, attacked banks and hurled rocks at police. Seventy people were injured and 12 arrested.

Downing Street yesterday said that the protests would not solve the escalating global financial crisis.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, told the BBC: "There have been too many debts built up by states, The answer is for governments to control their debts. Protesting on the streets is not going to solve the problem."

Rev Dr Giles Fraser, canon chancellor of St Paul's, said he wanted protesters to stay. He used the theme in his sermon: "I read a bit from Matthew, chapter six, about how you can't serve God and money."