Students' Role at Occupy the London Stock Exchange
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Dusk was settling over the silhouetted tents camped outside the steps of St Pauls Cathedral last night as I made my way over to the infamous occupation that has spawned from activism in New York and Madrid and now, to the financial district of London. I was interested to find out what the people at Occupy the London Stock Exchange stood for, how they wanted to achieve their goals, and what their reasoning was by occupying the area outside the cathedral. As I approached the occupation, I was amazed at the logistics of the protesters’ operation. There was a medi-tent, a make-shift kitchen, an area to charge phones, a press tent, and a litter collection point with full bin-liners neatly lined up in front of a sign asking passersby if they would like to take a bag. Making my way toward the ‘press tent’, a petite lady holding a piece of cardboard with ‘MEDIA’ scrawled on in bold felt-tip waved at me. She was 33 year-old Lucy Davies, a self-employed contracted teacher who runs educative creative work shops in schools. She told me a bit more about the occupation. Lucy firstly said that contrary to many beliefs the movement is not mostly comprised of students. ‘We have students here, and support from students is growing, but this is a global outbreak of people from many different demographics’, she explained. ‘What we do have here is a considerable amount of graduates that don’t have jobs – that much is very very clear.’ Lucy gave me a bit of a background on how the idea for Occupy the London Stock Exchange originated. Campaigners first started voicing the idea earlier this month at UK Uncut’s occupation of Westminster Bridge, in protest against the new Health Bill that was debated in the House of Lords on October 12th. After the occupation, roughly 1000 protesters met to discuss and plan the next action they feel they should take. They planned another meeting a few days after, where volunteers from all different movements came together to plan the occupation. Lucy explained, ‘Usually it’s really hard to get different groups and protest movements to come together, but in this case it worked so well – everyone was in agreement. The same happened when we started planning and promoting the event online on places like Facebook; everyone just said yes, which never happens. It just all fell in to place.’ The event may have fallen into place, but there was nothing haphazard in the way the occupation is running. The teacher added, ‘there’s a lot of work to ensure everything logistically works. We’ve got people volunteering to do different jobs. There’s guys in the software tent making sure there’s wi-fi running smoothly, we’ve also got an emotional support tent and a logistic team – they’re the real unsung heroes, keeping the place clean and tidy, helping keep the tents up.’
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