Anti-capitalist protesters who have been camped outside St Paul’s Cathedral for the past month are preparing to do battle with the authorities after being served with eviction notices ordering them to leave the site.
Just hours after protesters at the affiliated Occupy Wall Street camp in New York were forcibly removed by riot police amid violent scenes in Zuccotti Park in the Big Apple’s financial district, the City of London Corporation served eviction notices on the UK activists giving them until 6pm yesterday to leave the cathedral area.
But demonstrators tore down the notices as soon as they were posted, vowing they would stay and fight a potentially lengthy legal battle if necessary.
Naomi Colvin, an Occupy London spokeswoman, said: “It is not something we need to be remotely worried about – we’ve been prepared for it for months.
“If they want to get an order in the High Court, it could take months. We will contest it.”
The corporation, the local authority which runs the Square Mile, has expressed concern over what it describes as “worrying trends” at the camp such as late-night drinking, and said shops and cafes nearby had complained about losing business.
Several of the tents are pitched on a footpath surrounding the cathedral, with the remainder in the churchyard itself.
A spokeswoman for the cathedral – which has dropped its own proposed legal action – said was is still looking for a “peaceful resolution”, admitting it has faced “challenges” over recent weeks.
Yorkshire is now witnessing its own small but growing Occupy movement.
The number of tents in City Square, Leeds, has risen from four to 12 over the past week.
Activists were yesterday hoping left-wing rocker Billy Bragg would play a live gig at Occupy Leeds prior to his performance at the city’s university last night.
Bragg has already performed at Occupy Sheffield this week.
Occupy says it now has camps in 2,000 cities worldwide.