May 21 2013 Latest news:
by Jon Dean
Friday, May 18, 2012
The Occupy movement is due to leave today after almost seven months on a site some inhabitants admit they have ruined.
Last Friday, Islington Council issued a legal notice saying protesters must leave Finsbury Square by 4pm today or face legal action.
The group, a demonstration against global capitalism, started as an overspill from a similar protest outside St Paul’s cathedral in October.
But the Finsbury site has outlived the original, and the council claims that the vacation order has been sparked by complaints about people urinating in public, lighting fires, using drugs and abusing passers-by, as well as a detrimental effect on local businesses.
Ashley Mark, 34, who has been in the camp for more than six months, said: “When I first saw the notice I ripped it up.
“Now I have had time to dwell on it, it’s time to move on. We have really ruined this place – just look at it.
“People want to come and have their picnics here and we have messed it up.
“I am homeless and so are a lot of people here but there are still a lot of protesters.”
The council says it will cost £20,000 to get the square back to its former glory and the protest has also cost £1,000 a week in staff costs – around £30,000 in total.
One inhabitant, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I am just trying to get out of here as quickly as possible. I am both homeless and protesting, but I have had enough now.”
There is a feeling among some protesters that they will fight the eviction.
One young occupier who asked not to be named said: “I think some people will stay and try to fight it, but reactions are mixed.”
Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “We said from the outset we support the right to peaceful protest and we have tolerated Occupy’s presence since October.
“However, it is now apparent that the character of the protest has changed and Occupy’s presence is significantly diminished.
“In their place, we now see a group of vulnerable and homeless people who would be better cared for elsewhere.”