There's a crack in everything, and things fall apart

Last days of St. Paul’s Occupy Protest Camp

I finally took some photos of the Occupy protest camp in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral last week, completely unaware that in a few days it would be torn down by bailiffs after losing the court battle to keep the camp alive. Some protesters have moved on to another camp at nearby Finsbury Park, while others continue to stand where the camp once stood, as the only thing made ‘illegal’ about their occupation were the tents they used for shelter.

Tent City University, HQ of the former St. Paul's protest camp

I work in Holborn, only a five-minute walk away from St. Paul’s Cathedral, and passed by the camp a few times in the past. The ragged tents appeared so surreal amid bank headquarters, up-scale sandwich shops and, of course that staple of the British middle class, Sainsbury’s grocery store, “just around the corner.”

Sign facing the St. Paul's protest camp

The protesters at St. Paul’s were a motley group of hardcore political activists, disenfranchised hippies, the down-and-out homeless, and general non-conformists who salivate at chances to parade in front of the “suited and booted” London bourgeoisie and show them that not everyone in this city wants to be on the FTSE 100.

One of the many interesting people who hung around the camp

The camper I spoke to outside St. Paul’s on that rainy afternoon was a middle-aged guy with tattoos. He sat outside his tent, watching tourists snap photos of the historic building beside him. The camp had been there so long it had become part of the background, non-news that stopped achieving its goal of highlighting government corruption and corporate greed long ago.

Hopefully the protesters can continue the spirit that was born last year on Wall Street and spread across the Atlantic to the financial capital of Europe. Hopefully they can once again grab the headlines through non-violent action, inspiring us to think critically about the people who sell us products and collect our taxes.

I’m just glad I got a chance to get some photos and talk to the people before the St. Paul’s tent city became history.


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