- Is our democracy democratic?
- How does it work? Why doesn’t it work?
- How did it get here?
- And what is the ‘democratic deficit?’
Police from virtually every borough inLondon- in addition to members of the Territorial Support Group – violently removed supporters of Occupy London who were merely sitting on the steps of the Royal Exchange Saturday 5 May. The arrests came after a day of “Meet the 1%” activities and marches throughout the city that were timed to coincide with an international day of action marked in over 380 cities worldwide. 
Tents had been laid at the Royal Exchange and the 350-strong gathering, including families, was entirely peaceful with a friendly fun atmosphere for the talks and music that were happening. The crowd was almost immediately surrounded by police, indicative of the general policing of the day when earlier atSt Paul’s there had been at least 700 protestors. A General Assembly was convened to discuss next steps; how long to stay by the Bank of England or continue with the “Meet the 1%” tour of the city. At just after 5pm, legal observers became aware that a Section 14 Order under the 1986 Public Order Act had been imposed by the most senior officer on the ground, Chief Inspector Hancock. 
Matthew Varnham, a legal observer for Occupy London, said: “A Section 14 should only be put in place when there is a serious risk of imminent public disorder, damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community. Occupy London’s peaceful gathering near the Bank of England showed no potential for any of these outcomes, which would go against the principles of Occupy anyway. We are about engaging with the public in meaningful and creative ways. In any case, there is very little in the way of real community in that area; particularly on a Saturday when everything is closed.
“In instances such as this, the most senior officer on duty is required to explain how he reached his reasonable belief that action was necessary. When I spoke to Chief Inspector Hancock – and it took a while to engage him in conversation, by which most of the ‘warning period’ had elapsed – he confirmed that the Section 14 was being imposed on grounds that the assembly may result in serious disruption to the life of the community. I reminded the Chief Inspector that people were doing something that is not only legitimate, but protected by human rights law. Nevertheless, he refused to explain how he reached his conclusion. Frankly, there was absolutely no immediate risk of disruption to the life of the community and the lack of lawful reasoning is questionable.”
Around 40 protestors opted to stay on after the 5.45pm deadline set for people to disperse, linking arms to form a human chain on the steps of the Royal Exchange. A police snatch squad in triangle formation moved in in waves, violently removing protesters one by one. Many of those present captured these events on video.
Melanie Strickland, a supporter of Occupy London, said: “What occurred on the steps of the Royal Exchange was a shocking act of political policing. We were told that the senior officer had imposed restrictions on our assembly and that we were liable to arrest, but no officer could tell us how that section applied to us. From 6.40pm teams of police started snatching peaceful activists from the crowd, one by one. The police were aggressive, employing disproportionate and unlawful force. Women and men were assaulted as they sat linking arms on the steps in solidarity. Police attacked activists using techniques designed to inflict maximum pain without leaving marks.”
In all, 11 people were arrested. All have now been released from police custody with most on bail subject to stringent bail conditions including: keeping a distance of 100 metres from any Olympic venue, road or torch route; restrictions on entering the City of London at any time; plus the City of Westminster, Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead during any Jubilee or Olympic celebrations (without any notification of how to find out where events are happening).
The political policing of the day, the lack of adequate communication with protestors, disproportionate and unlawful force employed, plus the subsequent arrests which increasingly appear to have targeted specific individuals, highlight a crackdown on lawful protest activities ahead of the Olympics and Jubilee, reminiscent of the ‘pre-crime’ arrests around the Royal Wedding last year, for which a Judicial Review has been granted and will take place on the 28 May. 
Also coming up on Sunday 20 May, which will be worth attending is the Kettle Police Powers – Netpol Conference 2012, a conference exploring the impact of police powers on protest and communities. Are we seeing Total Policing or a Total Lockdown?(http://kettlepolicepowers.wordpress.com/)
 Chief Inspector Nick Hancock refuses to explain what constitutes his reasonable belief that the assembly poses an imminent risk of disruption to the life of the community - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOx4Nfu2e4A&sns=em
 Footage of arrests:
 Judicial Review of Preemptive Royal Wedding Arrests http://pageantryandprecrime.wordpress.com/about
Occupy London announces an Open Day on Tuesday 10 April as gets ready for Occupy May. Occupy London Stock Exchange was just the beginning. Calls you to help make May the beginning of a summer the one per cent will not forget.
Occupy London is set to strike back this May as people around the world take to the streets to mark one year since the indignados reclaimed their squares in Spain and Greece, and six months since the Occupy movement went global.
The next wave is about to begin. Put May Day, 12 May and 15 May in your diary.
It’s been four years since the financial crisis hit. Governments have failed catastrophically to implement the economic change needed to prevent it happening again. They have failed to protect their citizens’ interests against those of corporations and the financial markets. Ordinary people – families, small businesses and communities – are being forced to pay for a crisis they didn’t cause. May marks an international call to act locally and globally against this injustice and to fight for a sustainable economy that puts people and the environment we live in before corporate profits.
In the UK, the millionaires’ budget confirmed that the coalition seeks to reward those at the top of society, at the expense of our health service, education and pensions. We are already seeing the fallout of extreme austerity in other European countries where the economic activity has come to a standstill and the living standards of ordinary people have reached punishing lows.
The world’s eyes are on London this year with the Jubilee, the Olympics … but we all know that the pageantry and the spectacle can’t hide what’s really happening in the UK as politicians collude with the financial elite.
Occupy London is building for its second wave. You, your group, organisation or community are called to get involved – let’s bring together concerned individuals and seasoned campaigners from across and beyond the political spectrum.
Open Day for Occupy London
The first of a number of creative events and actions leading up to May will be an Open Day event starting at 6pm Tuesday 10 April at Friends Meeting House (173-177 Euston Road NW1 2BJ). Between 6pm and 7.30pm, come and meet people involved in Occupy London’s working groups to find out how you can get involved, what they have been up to and what they are planning. At 7.30pm, get ready for some creative planning for events in May! Stay in the loop via the Facebook event for Occupy May!.
Occupy London Stock Exchange was just the beginning. Join us as we regroup to make May the beginning of a summer the one per cent will not forget.