Occupy London: Tank-Driving Protesters Take Over Abandoned Old Street Magistrates Court To 'Put 1% On Trial'
Occupy London protesters have driven a small tank to a former magistrates court where they intend to hold mock 'trials' of bankers and corporations accused of financial greed.
The movement said it had taken over the Old Street Magistrates Court and Police Station, a Grade II listed building in Hackney, on Tuesday morning.
The building, which contains two courts and a disused police station, was in use from 1903 until the court was decommissioned in 1996.
Documents available from the Metropolitan Police Authority showed that the building was once considered for use as a "community courthouse" to help educate local people about the law, but the plans were eventually dropped.
Occupy plans to use the court for a series of mock trials of bankers and other figures it considers to be part of the '1%' responsible for the financial crisis.
A spokesperson for Occupy London told The Huffington Post UK that qualified solicitors will conduct the trials, and that anyone accused will be invited to defend themselves.
A list of people and companies to be tried in the courts will be released soon, the movement said.
"These trials will be about economic crime, about companies that have not paid their taxes or people who have made profit out of the recession," said Spyro, a spokesperson for the organisation.
"We need to see justice," he said. "Our court will be a symbolic peoples court."
The movement said that the building was chosen because it was a highly ornate, visible and expensive development that had been abandoned for many years.
"We want to give back to the public," Spyro said. He added that Occupy was not concerned that its message would be diluted by PR stunts, and argued that "PR is a good thing".
The organisation also rejected the criticisms on Twitter and other social networks that the 'prosecution' of the 1% could have an unpleasant resemblance to 'show trials'.
"Ours in an open movement," the spokesperson said. He added that the public would be welcome to watch the trials.
Some of the protesters made their way to the court in a small tank, which they called the "tank of ideas". Occupy said that the tank - a Daimler Ferret Armoured Scout Car - was offered "by a supporter of Occupy" and that while they had been given the chance to use it "a while ago" there had not been a good opportunity until Tuesday's demonstration.
A spokesperson for Scotland Yard said that the force had attended the occupation of the court but that it had passed off peacefully.
Officials from the City of London have taken the movement to the High Court in an attempt to evict them from a camp outside St Paul's Cathedral.
At a hearing on Monday the City told a judge that the camp attracted "vulnerable people" such as drug addicts.
Occupy said it intends to fight the eviction effort, adding that reports in the Independent and other newspapers that they were preparing to leave "on their own terms" had not been agreed on by the group as a whole.
"[The idea] has been discussed by some, but no consensus has been reached," a spokesperson said.