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Reporting on the Occupy London Stock Exchange Protest by Zoe Catherine Kendall

 

I went down to St Paul's Cathedral yesterday armed with a camera and a dictaphone, after the demonstrators had been refused access to privately owned Paternoster Square, home of the London Stock Exchange, to sit on the steps of the great Cathedral and show solidarity with the protests happening the world over, from Wall Street to Rome, Greece and Spain, and to ask the other people around me why they had come down and what they hoped may come of a day like October 15th 2011. It was a very peaceful day and night and we've heard word this morning that the Dean of St Paul's supports the protest and has asked the police presence to leave. Below are a few biopics of the sorts of people battling for less intrinsic corruption in global financial institutions and more equality, with the idea of a world where resources are prioritised for the needs of people and planet and not for the use and profit of global corporations and militaries.   

 

Text and Photographs by Zoe Catherine Kendall

 



Who are you?

Lucy and Baby Romona

Why are you here today?

'I'm here today because I believe in a ideal of a really just and fair society, and I’m here because I feel a more just and more fair society is actually within our grasp. I'm absolutely shocked and appalled by tax avoidance from corporates and the frivolous way that the banks play with the world economy and I think there's a couple of things that could be done right now that are potentially quite pain free that could fix the situation a little bit. Things like a financial transaction tax and better policy to make sure that corporates can't get away with having off shore bank accounts, fixing that could get us a few steps further along the path of an equal society.'

What do you do in everyday life?

'I am a mum at the moment but I work for an international development agency as a campaigner.'

What do you think about people on twitter who have been saying why don't the demonstrators go and get a job? Why are they complaining about things like money, they are just poor and not rich, and so are causing a disturbance, and even that the demonstrators are #muppets?

'I think that's so inaccurate, you only have to look around and it's so obvious there is a real diverse group of people here, there are some unemployed people and so there should be here, they should be angry, but there are probably equally as many well paid people who are trying to build a better vision of society.'



Who are you and how old are you?

'I'm Nathaniel Davis and I am 21'

You seemed to be involved in a discussion group over there, what's been going on today?

'We had an initial general assembly in which people gave their political opinions on why we were here and what needed to be done. After that people went off into groups and started discussions about issues of what would happen if we stayed here. There are groups talking about toilets, there are groups talking about the legal side, there are groups talking about food, there are groups talking about the process of how we decide things. The group I was involved in is the group to decide where we are going to stay and the legality of where we are going to stay. So what we are trying to do here is involve as many people as possible in discussion and in decisions that we make about what will happen in the next 24 hours. We're hoping to stay here, it seems like that's what the mood is and we are hoping to actually have some kind of permanence to our position, much like what happened in America and much like what happened in Spain and Greece.'

So it's a case of finding out whether it's going to be the same kind of situation as it was in Paternoster Square?

'Sure, Paternoster Square is private land and that's the main reason why the police wouldn't let us in, where we are now as far as I can understand isn't actually illegal, as in we are not trespassing at the moment, it's public land, we wait to see what the police tactics will be, but I’m quite confident and pretty happy about what's going on at the moment, I think there's quite a lot of good stuff going on...'

At which point Nathaniel had to run off to help deal with an incident in the background.

 



Who are you?

Lewis, a hairdresser and Edward who runs a company.

Why are you here?

'I don't like the banking system, I think the fractional reserve banking system is a farce and is a con
and I think it's to blame for a lot of the problems that have happened. The most vulnerable people in society are now paying their bill while the bankers continue to get off scot-free.'

What are you hoping for?

'Changes to the banking system because the government aren't in power, the bankers are in power, so whenever the government tries to bring in regulations they can't because the bankers are too powerful and it gets dismissed immediately.'

Do you think the government are in cahoots with the bankers?

'To a certain extent, yeah.'

Are you planning on camping here tonight?

'Yes we've brought provisions, we want to, that's what we really want to do.'

 



Who are you?

Lewis, who runs a radical hair salon off Petticoat Lane Market as part of the Two Degrees Art Festival, offering free haircuts in exchange for peoples' ideas about the current socio-economic and socio-political situation, talking about things like debt, in an attempt to explore and challenge the nature of exchange within our society.  

Why are you here today?

'I have a strong sense that it's really important to stand up and protest, and that it's a fundamental part of democracy, also that when things are shifting in the world around us, we shouldn't be taken advantage of, we should show a sense of strength and pride and that is how a democracy works.'

Do you think, a bit like in your hair salon, we have the opportunity to explore other ideas beyond the corrupt capitalist system that we're currently suffering from?

'Oh completely, on two levels. One is investigating alternative forms of economy, economies that don't prioritise profit above our needs and our relationships to each other and what we need from the world, I’m pretty sure that's not the only way of doing business even if it appears to be surrounding us now. The other level is that we are really interested in affinities and relationships built up, not based on party politics or based on ourselves as represented by other people but instead really interested in relationships that are built around friendship and those are really powerful relationships, we have much more liberty and much more strength when we find ourselves in groups of friends. Political strength can be built in the streets and built up with these relationships, like friendships, and that's how all the progressive change we've had in that respect throughout history has come about, because people look each other in the eye and say you know – we're not going to take this, and we're going to move something forward and that for me is a political currency.'

We are one of many demonstrations, occupations and protests going on around the world, do you think we are going to start changing things, that changes are afoot?

'Things are changing whether we are here or not but the fact that we are here means that we have a sense of a bit more control in that change.'

Do you think that we could influence that change?

'As has been said about a lot of these protests, there's no kind of focal point to say this is our demand and this is our party and this is our program. It is a beginning and it is part of that democratic tension. A good example is how when in France they tried to put the retirement age up by three years and everyone went mental, that was the start of last year. The same thing happened in Britain, they put it up by six years, not three years, and they did it without too much fuss. The French are always saying don't mess us around too much, don't push us too hard. We [here] need a sense of collective strength with organisation and a vision too. Today shows that we are all actually here, not just existing on twitter or moaning about it on facebook, we are a force and there are a lot of people behind us.'

 


Who are you both and what are your main reasons for being here today?

Leo, currently unemployed but skilled in graphic design and photography.

'I am trying to document and occupy at the same time. I am part of the occupation by default but I also have to be objective, which is kind of hard. My main idea is to show investment banking how much I hate it and document the process of others doing that. It's a protest against the banking world, the political world and inequality in general for me.'

Ed from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, currently unemployed having lost his job as a sales manager in November last year and faced a monumental struggle trying to find a new one ever since.

'My main reason for being down here is that we are losing public services across the country left right and centre, we're seeing schools closing, hospitals closing down, libraries, bus services, and at the end of the day it is all because we bailed out the bank with billions of pounds of tax payers money, anything up to 850 million pounds depending on which report you listen to. Banking is now making a profit again, not only that, some banks are announcing record profits and they are still paying out bankers the same bonuses, we have completely and utterly been made to pay out for their crisis and it should not be on our shoulders. It's their crisis, they should be the ones made to pay for it. It's only the regular people who are losing their public services, I’m pretty sure that every banker who is on a six figure or multi-million pound bonus is not using the public schooling system, they're not using public hospitals, they're certainly not getting on the bus to go anywhere. So they are not taking anything from away from these people, they have made the mistakes, they have left the country in economic ruin and they're completely getting away with it and getting to live the same champagne-charlie lifestyle they've always lived and it is only regular people who are paying for it.'

What do you want to see out of today?

'I want to see more equality, today is only the beginning as far as I’m concerned, the government aren't just going to roll over because a few thousand people occupied the area surrounding St Paul's Cathedral for one day and one night, we need a constant occupation like we've seen in Wall Street and in other cities across the USA, we need to keep this going, we need to send a message out, we are not going to accept this and we need to grow from this. I personally believe if we stay tonight we are going to see a massive influx tomorrow because I feel there will be a lot of people sat at home thinking I’m going to see how the first night goes, maybe they are a bit worried about police violence or whatever, but if they see it go well tonight I think we are going to get a massive influx tomorrow and we are going to see it grow and grow and grow from there, and eventually if we do get enough numbers down here we will become too big to ignore. To coin a term that has been used by many economists and MPs, we will be too big to fail...'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Photographs by Zoe Catherine Kendall, check out my blog for other parts of my art work life