Mon, Oct 24, 2011 - Page 6 News List

Occupy London protesters pitch tents at new camp

Reuters, LONDON

A protester talks into a megaphone at Finsbury Square in London on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Anti-capitalist protesters set up a second campsite in London’s financial district on Saturday, after a first encampment they established a week ago forced St Paul’s Cathedral to close.

“We want to be good neighbors,” protester Kai Wargalla said. “We had reached the limit of our capacity at St Paul’s and the new camp takes the pressure off that site.”

However, the first collection of tents outside the cathedral did not appear to have shrunk on Saturday night.

The new camp is at Finsbury Square, one of the few green open spaces in the crowded financial district. Protesters pitched their tents outside the cathedral after police blocked their attempts to occupy the square next to the London Stock Exchange the previous weekend.

Church authorities closed the 17th-century cathedral to visitors on Friday for the first time since World War II, saying camping stoves posed a fire risk and the tents limited access to the building.

The protesters, part of a movement called Occupy London, said about 200 to 300 people had joined the second camp and they were expected to stay for some time.

No one at the City of London police force could immediately be reached for comment. No one was available at Islington Council, the local authority in charge of Finsbury Square.

The demonstration is one of a number across Europe inspired by protests in New York attacking global finance and calling for a more equal distribution of wealth.

The British protesters say they are also angry over government spending cuts, tax increases, public health reforms and higher tuition fees for university students.

Officials have been turning away tourists hoping to tour Christopher Wren’s cathedral.

However, a wedding at the church went ahead as planned. Public relations manager Natasha Ighodaro entered the church through a side door and some guests expressed sympathy for the protesters.

“It’s been amazing. There hasn’t been any disruption at all — it’s been wonderful, really amazing,” the bride was quoted as saying by the BBC.

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