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Islington Gazette’s day at Finsbury Square protest

PUBLISHED: 12:58 14 November 2011 | UPDATED: 14:00 15 November 2011

The encampment at Finsbury Square

The encampment at Finsbury Square

Protesters in Finsbury Square kick-start the day with tai chi sessions and often wind down with night-time yoga.

The Occupy members, who arrived on October 22 because of an overspill at St Paul’s Cathedral and who plan to stay until Christmas, have created their own eclectic community.

There’s a library with books stockpiled, a theatre, a kitchen, a first aid tent and a meditation area.

Visitors from charities and public bodies hold discussions in the “yurt” – a bended wooden structure which was donated.

In the large kitchen tent Pete, 34, said: “Food is either donated or from what supermarkets leave out. The food may be past its sell by date so we go and liberate it. We need more donations, especially vegetables.”

Pete, a former street entertainer in Spain, is doing the laundry run after rain soaked tents and sleeping bags.

Later on Martin Dixon-Tyrer, 45, employed in marketing for more than 20 years, watches over a massive bowl of the Hungarian dish Paprikas Krumpli which will feed the masses.

Mr Dixon-Tyrer, now a trainee chef in-between helping Occupy London, said: “I worked for some major companies. The issue is not individual it is systematic.

“An executive could earn £3million in bonuses but that’s the structure of his job and does not make him a bad person.”

Two general assembly meetings are held daily which involve everyone. A speaker leads the discussions and specific hand signals are required to speak or vote.

Jack Hartcup, 21, the son of a multi-million pound property developer, said: “The one thing that unites all of us is we don’t want a leader – everything is done by consensus.

“I got called a “ring-leader” but then if this is a revolution we are all screwed.”

Demonstrators are excited by the prospect of former MP Tony Benn addressing the tent city at St Paul’s at midday.

The cathedral site has become something of a circus in comparison to the calm at Finsbury Square. While people wait for Mr Benn to arrive, Sister Ruth sings with her “two toy-boys”.

Back in Finsbury Square at 3pm, protesters listen to banker Clive Menzies who has delivered regular speeches. He talks about fractional reserve banking, which means banks can retain a reserve which is a fraction of a customer’s deposit.

“Banks can create money out of thin air and then lend it to you and charge interest when it had no value to start with,” said Mr Menzies.

Lindsay Starbuck, 34, a youth worker who volunteers at Occupy Finsbury Square, runs the info tent where passers-by can leave messages.

She said: “We get the odd insults from bankers but most of them are really happy to talk.”

Most of the protesters are united in a determination to raise concerns about the global economy and the gap between the rich and the poor, but some are there because they have nowhere else to sleep.

Miss Starbuck said: “We have several street homeless. Thankfully there’s a huge array of skills among us, some with a background in housing, who have been helping the rough sleepers find permanent accommodation.”

But not everyone is welcome. Graham, 24, from Norfolk, said: “We always have to be careful about agent provocateurs. They normally come along in a Che Guevara T-shirt.”


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