CAMPAIGNERS in anti-capitalist protests outside St Paul’s Cathedral have occupied a London bank’s abandoned office block to highlight how corporations waste global resources.
The dramatic move represents the first time protesters from the Occupy London movement have targeted a building alongside their existing encampments on land around St Paul’s, near the London Stock Exchange, and Finsbury Square in Islington. The block at Crown Place in Hackney is owned by investment bank UBS, but has stood empty for some time.
Describing the step as a “public repossession”, the activists have claimed squatters’ rights and said they plan to set up a “bank of ideas” in the building, opening up the disused offices and meeting rooms to “those who have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs due to savage Government spending cuts”.
Drugs and alcohol have been banned and a programme of events drawn up, including talks from activists and comedy from local stand-up Josie Long.
Occupy London supporter Jack Holburn, said: “While over 9,000 families were kicked out of their homes in the last three months for failing to keep up mortgage payments – mostly due to the recession caused by the banks – UBS and the other financial giants are sitting on massive abandoned properties.
“As banks repossess families’ homes, empty bank property needs to be repossessed by the public. We hope this is the first in a wave of ‘public repossessions’ of property belonging to the companies that crashed the global economy.”
A UBS spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the situation and are taking appropriate action.”
Meanwhile hundreds of campaigners from the Occupy Wall Street campaign were arrested yesterday as they protested near the New York Stock Exchange.