November 18, 2011
LONDON – Nearby the Occupy London camp site at St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London, protesters have embarked on a new approach to raising the public’s level of awareness by occupying a third site – a vacant office block belonging to Swiss banking giants UBS.
In what has been billed as a “public repossession”, protesters took the demonstration up to another level today, occupying a major banking institution’s property which is located outside the edge of the Square Mile, inside London’s borough of Hackney.
Occupiers have made plans to set up a “Bank of Ideas” inside the four-story modern office complex located between Finsbury Square and Liverpool Street. The building boasts state-of -the-art meeting rooms and presentation facilities where Occupy plans to host speakers, workshops, seminars, events and a running exhibition over the coming weeks to highlight issues surrounding the global financial system and its effect on society.
Occupiers are citing UK ‘squatters rights’ under 1977 Criminal Law Section 6 as their legal right to take over the disused banking space.
“The criminal financial system that has allowed banks and other corporations to steal the wealth of the world is collapsing and the ‘Bank of Ideas’ is here to educate, inform, and to create a platform for solutions to be discussed and actioned because we are no longer willing to wait for bought-off politicians to change their ways”, says occupier Kish.
He adds, ” This is now a community space for the public to exchange skills and ideas and our only currency is creativity.”
The Guardian also reported today:
At a press conference inside the building Occupy activists said they hoped to avoid confrontation with police by negotiating with UBS to use the empty complex by agreement. Attempts to contact the bank had thus far been unanswered, they said.
Aside from the building’s size and location, near many other financial institutions, the activists say it was chosen as it is owned by a major bank, and one which was bailed out by taxpayers, albeit those in Switzerland. Ronan McNern, a regular camp spokesman, said: “UBS is representative of the sort of bank which is not acting in the public interest. This is a public repossession of their empty building.”
Occupy London’s main location at St Paul’s was given until 6pm yesterday evening to vacate their protest camp or face legal action from the Corporation of London. Occupy organisers say the site is safe for now, but are now preparing for a protracted legal battle with The City which is expected to last at least one month, but could potentially drag over into 2012.