Occupy London group issues statement; city officials to meet with activists

Story highlights

  • Occupy London statement calls for fundamental changes
  • "Our global system is unsustainable," the statement says
  • The group that runs London's financial district will meet with the protesters
  • The protesters have been camped at St. Paul's Cathedral for more than two weeks
Occupy London's "general assembly" laid out Wednesday a statement saying it is seeking "a global system that is democratic, just and sustainable."
"The world's resources must not go to the military or corporate profit, but instead go towards caring for people's needs: water, food, housing, education, health, community,' said the statement, which came the same day that the group that runs London's financial district said it would meet with Occupy London protesters about their continued encampment outside St. Paul's Cathedral.
The City of London Corporation said it wanted to be mindful of the protesters' right to hold a peaceful demonstration. But the protesters are camped on a public roadway outside the cathedral, and the corporation said it also has a responsibility to maintain access to that road.
St. Paul's Cathedral is within the City of London, a square-mile district within the capital that also includes the Bank of England and other financial institutions.
The corporation said it has received complaints from business and residents about the campsite, and it also wants to resolve issues that include concern over public hygiene.
The corporation said Tuesday it would "press pause" on its plans to force the anti-capitalist protest camp to disperse. That announcement followed an announcement by the cathedral that it would suspend its legal action against the camp.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said in an op-ed article published in the Financial Times that the protest at Saint Paul's "was seen by an unexpectedly large number of people as the expression of a widespread and deep exasperation with the financial establishment that shows no sign of diminishing. There is still a powerful sense around -- fair or not -- of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers; of impatience with a return to 'business as usual' -- represented by still-soaring bonuses and little visible change in banking practices."
Williams' article came a day after the Rt. Rev. Graeme Knowles stepped down from his post as dean of St. Paul's Cathedral. "It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as Dean of St Paul's was becoming untenable," he said in a statement read by Registrar Nicholas Cottam.
"In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul's, I have thought it best to stand down, to allow new leadership to be exercised."
He said that, since the protesters set up camp outside the cathedral, "we have all been put under a great deal of strain and have faced what would appear to be some insurmountable issues. I hope and pray that under new leadership these issues might continue to be addressed and that there might be a swift and peaceful resolution."
The activists set up camp outside St. Paul's more than two weeks ago when their attempt to storm the nearby London Stock Exchange failed.
The statement they released Wednesday calls the current economic system one based on infinite growth but relying on finite resources. Such a system "is leading humanity and the environment to destruction," it says.
"Our global system is unsustainable," the statement says. "It is undemocratic and unjust, driven by profit in the interest of the few."
The statement concluded: "An international, global collaboration has started, and is working on a statement that will unite the occupy movements across the world in their struggle for an alternative that is focused on and originates from people and their environment."