Thursday, November 03, 2011

occupy bristol camp

I dropped in to the “Occupy Bristol” camp yesterday morning on College Green and chatted to a group of protesters. They seemed in very good spirits and determined to continue the occupation for as long as possible. They appeared to be very organized – they’d just finished one of their daily “open meetings” and scribbles on their white board certainly seemed to have identified a number of key issues/responsibilities and assigned particular individuals as coordinators. I’ve been impressed by the way they’re trying to communicate with the public at large – via signs and messages placed around the site (explaining what they’re doing and that their protest is entirely peaceful and non-confrontational) and also the “drop-in” gazebo(?) where one or two members of the camp can answer any queries from members of the public. I also noticed that they’d put together a schedule of “campsite rules”, which they displayed around the site so that members of the public (and prospective protesters?) were aware. The ten or so rules seemed entirely sensible and appropriate to me (and I think that the today’s open meeting also took a decision to ban alcohol from the site).
I had a long chat to “Greg”. He told me that the camp members had been encouraged at St Paul’s by the changed attitude of the church authorities (and the City of London Corporation) to back away from the enforced eviction actions (and with the ongoing dialogue). He said that, here in Bristol, the relationships with City Council and cathedral authorities was good and that he understood that they were under no immediate threat of eviction. I told him that the Archbishop of Canterbury had written an article in today’s Financial Times indicating his support for the Robin Hood Tax – Greg hadn’t been aware of this prior to our conversation. I asked him how people were able to afford to devote their time to the demonstration and he told me that some people had given up their holidays, some were spending all their “non-work” time at the camp and some simply didn’t have jobs to go to. He said that the most encouraging aspect of the occupation had been the real sense of community that the protesters had experienced. For example: local businesses and individuals had been donating money+food and members of the public had also been turning up and cooking meals for them. He accepted that the protesters didn’t have any “specific” demands – it was simply their intention to raise awareness and basically to say “enough is enough”!
Photo: part of the Occupy Bristol campsite (note: I decided it was best to avoid taking any group pictures!).
PS: This ended up feeling as if I SHOULD have ended it with the words: “Steve Broadway, News At Ten, Bristol”. Apologies!

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