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Inside Occupy London Stock Exchange

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Inside Occupy London Stock Exchange


It’s been a week since protesters inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement have been camping outside St. Paul’s Cathedral at the heart of London’s financial district.

Our London correspondent Ali Sheikholeslami has paid them a visit and spoken to a number of campers and some of those who were watching them.

Lucy brings her 11-month-old daughter Ramona here every day. She complains about the “insane inequality” and the lack of will to tackle it. “I want to leave the world a more just place for my daughter,” she says.

The essentials for any demonstration…

Nick has come all the way from Manchester to support the movement. “I’m not a big speaker,” he says. “They need technology to spread the message. I came down and gave them my laptop.”

The police are keeping a close eye on the developments…

Protesters have renamed the church square ‘Tahrir Square’, taking inspiration from the movements in Cairo and across the Middle East this year.

Mike is a banker on his lunch break. “They don’t know what they’re saying,” he says of the campers. “They don’t have an alternative,” he adds. He’s also concerned that people who are camping are not a “good example” and that he prefers to see them “more presentable.” He describes the camp a “mess” in which you can’t tell who is a genuine protester and who is a “tramp” after free food.

However, this group is discussing the alternative to capitalism. They don’t seem to have one, or agree on it, but hey, at least they’re trying.

Ella Campbell is an illustrator. She says her aim, sitting on the steps of the cathedral, is to observe people. She draws the crowds and tells the story of an angry woman who shouted at her and her friends, urging them to join the protests rather than sitting and drawing.

Anonymous, the group behind the hacking of websites of governments that they accuse of repression, has a tent in the centre of the camp.

There are signs that sustainable living is one of the messages of this movement. Solar panels generate electricity for a multi-faith prayer room in the camp.

Barry Daft works in house renovation in Yorkshire. He says he resents any authority and doesn’t want to be told what to do. He says he doesn’t have a problem accepting capitalism, but wants to see an “even distribution of wealth.” But his hopes that this particular movement will change anything are low.

Ian Taplin says he worked with Lloyds Bank for five years, during which period he witnessed a lot of overcharging of the customers. He notified the executives on several occasions that only led to him being fired. He has now launched a website to blow the whistle on what he sees as Lloyds’ wrongdoings. He says he’s out there to “clean up our banking system.”

Karl works in corporate travel. He comments that there is “no freedom and democracy is a joke.” He has been reading the various signs across the camp and says “some of the questions go at the heart of some of our main problems.”

And there is a piano tent for those moments when one doesn’t want to shout against capitalism.

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