Ann Pettifor

Just back from Occupy SLX – and police ‘kettling’

I have just got back from a frustrating afternoon trying to honour a commitment to the organisers of the above demo, to address the crowd on the steps of St. Pauls’ Cathedral. Got there at about 2.45 p.m to find that all avenues into the square on Ludgate Hill in front of St. Pauls were blocked by police. They stood close together in lines, and simply prevented anyone from entering that space….The picture above was taken when I was leaving…as police assembled in lines, with great gaps in between, and more lines down Ludgate Hill…

After circling St. Pauls, in search of an entry point…finally found a gap..

Julian Assange, pictured left, was leaving with a bunch of bodyguards, and for some reason, the police allowed me to enter.

Nice wave, Julian.








Because I was late, speeches had ended, and the organisers were beginning to break the very peaceful, and relaxed crowd into groups – to begin organising 1) food collections 2) arrangements for lavatories in the square 3) liaison with the police and the staff of St. Pauls 4) media …etc…The last group, No 11 was tasked to organise the wider mobilisation…..

A yogi perches on a post at the steps of St. Pauls.


The crowd, mostly seated, using the 'human microphone'to point to where the 'media group' will assemble.

‘Kasbah Square’, St Pauls Cathedral, 15 October, 2011



As you can see, the square was not crowded, and the protesters peaceful.




Peter Tatchell, quietly making his point.

The greatest irony of all: protesters, kettled into the square by police, queue peacefully to buy food and drink from – you got it – Starbucks! Conspiracy or no?

At this point I tried to leave the Square and St. Pauls…have much to do as tomorrow I fly to West Africa on a work project.

But could not walk away to catch a bus.Wherever I turned, was blocked by rows and rows of police…Regret I lost my cool: spoke angrily and started to give them a hard time…Asked whether they thought the bankers (pointed to bank offices around us) they had been paid overtime to protect – Mr Bob Diamond of Barclays and others – whether those bankers were going to give them jobs, when theirs were cut? Or pay their wages, when public spending ‘consolidation’ cuts their incomes…? Or help them when they are made homeless? Or their grandmother can’t get decent healthcare?

Did me no good I am sure, but had to give expression to my real anger at the threat this kind of policing poses to our democratic right to assemble and protest. I have for many years protested in London, first against apartheid, and then for peace and social justice and against war.

Never have I faced such determined opposition to the right to express my protest, to assemble freely, and to walk through my own city, as I faced today.

There is a great deal at stake, and thanks to these policing methods, we now know how high those stakes are.



6 thoughts on “Just back from Occupy SLX – and police ‘kettling’”

  1. Actually, the stakes may not be as high as the elite think they are. But it is what they think that is determining their resistance. As in the ’60s, I wondered why the elite could not understand that if they gave a little they may gain a lot. Of course, they gave not an inch. So, social unrest turned to riots. The myopia, then and now, is extraordinary. Part of the elite’s response is no doubt due to fear, poosibly of some kind of domino effect, but this is historically unjustified.

  2. Interesting that this is the first really public act by the new commissioner of police, who I believe said he thought the Met made mistakes in the way it policed the riots. It doesn’t sound like policing by consent. Worryingly perhaps a sign of things to come.

  3. Ann

    What’s happened – are you still being kettled, or did you decide to pitch a tent outside St Paul’s and stay?

    We need your wise words – don’t stop blogging!


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