As the bell tolled for midnight the bailiffs came. Backed by around 400 police and riot officers they encircled the occupation of St. Paul's. Christians kneeled down on the steps of St. Paul's in prayer would be thrown to the ground on the orders of the cathedral itself, and I would see the absolute compassion and anguish on the face of Canon Giles Fraser as the police prevented him from comforting those for whom his resignation from St. Paul's had so inspired.
As the bells rang again I received a text - Occupy London's School of Ideas was also being evicted, this one with questionable legality. When I arrived at the school around 6am, the surrounding streets were already blocked off and bulldozers were on the scene. By 8am, they had completely demolished a school.
Throughout the night the occupation at Finsbury Square had a Section 30 placed around it, granting the police stop and search powers on every individual coming or going to the site, powers deemed illegal b the European Court of Human Rights.
The City of London police have carried out illegal evictions before in a futile attempt to stem the Occupy movement, but the sinister pre-dawn demolition of the school building shows the government getting more desperate to end the extra-parliamentary movements against forced austerity and wealth re-distribution from the 99% to the 1%. The order itself for the eviction was signed by Kenneth Clarke QC MP. Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
It is not simply the spaces the state wants to evict. It is the idea the spaces embody. The idea that people will take the decisions that effect their lives and their communities into their own hands. The idea that it is unnecessary to elect an easily bought off representative to speak for you when your voice is loud enough. The idea that we can say "No." And most frightening to them, that we are saying "No."
The Boycott Workfare campaign by Right to Work and others is succeeding. Workfare is a forced labour scheme, forcing people to work 30 hours a week, unpaid, for corporations like McDonalds. It's eerily similar to China's "internship" program forcing workers to work for free at Apple's supplier Foxconn plant. As the Boycott campaign becomes more successful (both Tesco and Burger King pulled out of the scheme last week) the government has begun to panic. The Tories have ordered police to halt workfare demos. That's just the beginning of the government's attempts at "Beijinging London" before the Olympics.
Interior Minister Theresa May in late January urged Olympics organisers to ban tents to prevent "occupy-style" protests. It's a futile attempt. On Tuesday, the same day as the evictions, Len McClusky, head of Britain's largest union, Unite, stated "The attacks that are being launched on public sector workers at the moment are so deep and ideological that the idea the world should arrive in London and have these wonderful Olympic Games as though everything is nice and rosy in the garden is unthinkable." He went on to call for all forms of civil disobedience and strikes to stop the cuts, and pointed out that the Olympics were a perfect venue.
The weather is warming. The government is preparing for a summer of pomp and circumstance. Occupy and others are preparing for resistance. We need to unite. For we realise the state is scared now, but imagine their fear when we march side by side. As the character "V" said in the story that inspired so many Guy Fawkes wearing activists "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."
May looks like a good month. Spring is coming. And so are we.