18 Nov 2011
Protesters camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral today took over an abandoned office building owned by banking giant UBS.
The Occupy London demonstrators are claiming squatters’ rights at the four-storey building opposite the investment bank’s headquarters – where rogue trader Kweku Adoboli ran up £1.3billion losses.
They say the building – their third camp along with St Paul’s and Finsbury Square – will be used as a “bank of ideas” where offices and meeting rooms will be available for use by those affected by government cuts.
A dozen protesters who crept into the building last night claim to have “secured it”, putting up notices around the building claiming they have a legal right to be there. Many of the squatters were this morning wearing hard hats and scarves covering their faces. They later unfurled banners saying “public repossession” and “UBS you owe us”.
A UBS source said the empty building had been securely locked, suggesting the protesters must have broken in. It is understood the bank is now instructing lawyers to get an eviction notice served.
One protester, Jack Holburn, said the block, opposite a Starbucks coffee house, is one of many “massive abandoned properties” owned by UBS and other banking groups.
He said: “As banks repossess families’ homes, empty bank property needs to be repossessed by the public. Yesterday we learned that the Government has failed to create public value out of banking failure.
“We can do better. We hope this is the first in a wave of ‘public repossessions’ of property belonging to the companies that crashed the global economy.”
It comes as activists from up to 25 Occupy protests around the country prepare to come to London tomorrow for a nationwide conference organised by the St Paul’s group.
Demonstrators who have been camped in London for more than a month have vowed to stay into the New Year despite last night’s eviction deadline of 6pm. And organisers of the protest in the capital say they will pass on advice on how to become established to other camps.
Occupy London spokeswoman Naomi Colvin said: “We have had so much attention in London and we have got legal resources as well. Some of the other occupations face more pressing legal threats than we do. We are not in any danger of being evicted any time soon but others are so we want to share knowledge.”
Nicole Jewitt, a member of Occupy Sheffield, said: “Now is the time for occupiers and supporters to come together, share knowledge and experience. We need to start working towards a national consensus.”
Hathaway joins protesters in New York
Actress Anne Hathaway was part of a huge rally marking two months since the birth of the Occupy protest in New York.
More than 1,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters dtormed Brooklyn Bridge to mark the anniversary, and vowed to “keep on fighting” as 3000 people were arrested in clashes with the police.
Activists waving placards and chanting slogans swarmed onto the bridge and an estimated 32,500 campaigners clogged streets and jammed traffic. Similar rallies took places in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston, Washington and Portland as part of a national “Day of Action.”