Protesters condemn arrests after Parliament protest

© Isabelle Andarakis

Occupy Democracy protestors were left infuriated after up to 30 protesters were arrested, including Green Party politician Jenny Jones, outside of Parliament Square in Westminster after three days of peaceful protests.

The occupation started on Friday October 17, on the eve of the Trades Union Congress rally against austerity in Central London, and was due to end Sunday October 26.

One of the protestors, who only wanted to be named as Josh, said that when he first arrived “on the Sunday evening. There were about 100-120 police officers in a circle in the middle of the square with some protesters in the middle sitting on tarpaulin. [The police] were trying to take it off them because they said it was a structure. There was some brutality as one witness was punched in the leg, arms being put behind their backs.”

© Isabelle Andarakis

The Green Party politician stepped in after a legal observer for the Green and Black Cross had her bag containing her medication confiscated by a police officer who refused to give it back for two days, according to Josh.

Jenny Jones, 64, who is chairwoman of the London assembly’s economy committee was arrested for a brief period.

A spokesman for Scotland Yard said she was arrested for ‘obstructing police’ but then later de-arrested, but could still face prosecution.

According to Jenny Jones, the police “shouldn’t have arrested anybody here. They should have just listened and left them alone.”

Occupy Democracy Parliament (Photo by Hannah Hutchins)

A protestor from FilmCafe Co-Op, an eco-production company, told us the protest was very peaceful on Tuesday, “but later on around 8am the police began to surround people sitting on the tarps, and they just decided to say that ‘it’s a construction and against the law you can’t use it for any means of sleeping or relaxing’. Sleeping bags are not allowed either, it’s against the law’. Then in the early morning police got heavy handed and pushed everyone out. Lots of people were arrested and put in vans, people got hurt”

Maria, another Occupy Democracy protester said: “I’ve been protesting for the last three years, I’ve been arrested while pregnant three times but I’m not scared about being here with my baby. We’re not allowed to have any sleeping bags so we’ve been taking it in turns. Last night I was pushed over [by the police] and it’s very obviously clear I had my baby here [strapped to her chest].”

During the aggressive hostility with the police, the crowd chanted: “You fucking racist Nazis, you’re supposed to obey the people”, “Fascist pigs” and “David Cameron is a wanker fa la la la la, la la la la”.

© Isabelle Andarakis

Another protestor said: “I think the police are scandalous. They are absolutely corrupt as an establishment, at the end of the day this affects everybody and their reaction has been diabolical”.

The goal for the campaign is direct the energy from current single-issue struggles into a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt and unrepresentative system”, according to their website.

Russell Brand also spoke at the occupation on Sunday and reportedly brought all the protestors pizza.

Kiikii, Wave of Action UK said: “We noticed the police are very aware of the media I will say this, they became very heavy handed, until Russell Brand turned up where they seem to disappear into the sidelines.

“As soon as Russell left they did commit the most unlawful crimes on protesters, many feeling battered and bruised after the tarpaulin incident. I’m really not sure what this means for occupy although I can say that it’s due to an immense lack of support within the activist community, that this occupy has not achieved all it has set out to do.
“The less people attend the more brutal the police are and that’s not going to be fantastic for occupy in the future with upcoming events I think,” said Kiikii.

© Isabelle Andarakis

Scotland Yard said in a statement on Tuesday: “The group on the grassed area had been sleeping on a tarpaulin which is prohibited under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act of 2011, namely they have items with them to enable them to sleep in Parliament Square.”

“We informed them of the breach of legislation and asked them to leave, this was done on a one-to-one basis. They were told that if they failed to leave they would be removed from the site and would be liable to summons for the offence.”

 

Photography by Hannah Hutchins and Isabelle Andarakis.