He says they’ve raised some good points and mutters something about the Church looking at things related to pay and suggests they pack up and go home. Quite frankly, I think he has misunderstood the intention of the protest, which certainly isn’t about a couple of weeks in the cold and then off home so everything carries on as it was before.
I wrote him an email…
Dear Rt Revd Richard Chartres
I write after reading news reports of your comments regarding the camp at St Paul’s.
I am very disappointed that you have decided to weigh into the debate in this way, specifically asking for a peaceful occupation which is trying to deal with the problems of the world to finish. These people are exercising one of the few rights left in this country – the right to peaceful assembly and protest – although watching the Police attitude on Saturday 15 October, one would be forgiven for thinking protest is actually unlawful.
Despite keeping peaceful in the face of provocation. Despite numerous problems with the media. Despite keeping up a dialogue with the Cathedral. The protesters are still facing the wrath of the media, dragging out all manner of stories ranging from everyone being lazy and unemployed, to being busy and employed (the tent saga).
The problem I have with your comments is that you give those media outlets who seem to be looking for anything negative to say the green light to up their attacks.
What we have here is not really a protest. Of course, people are there to protest about what is happening in the world, but the main thrust is not about sleeping in the cold at night and chanting slogans all day until someone in power relents and tried to reach a compromise over the issues. It is a space where people can go to speak with others and share knowledge and experiences in the hope of finding the alternative which doesn’t seem to feature in modern politics. It is the most accessible form of democracy I have ever experienced and it’s the only place I feel I really have a voice.
By continually harassing the occupation about whether they can stay or not, the debate is consumed with conversations about St Paul’s, instead of the actual issues. If the camp is moved on and there is no longer that place for discussion, what is the alternative? You may be aware that there are many protests lined up in the next few months, including action from the Unions and Students. Is the message to them that peaceful assembly will not be tolerated? It’s been so refreshing to see a protest that breaks from the mould of marching from A to B, shouting a bit, a confrontation with the police and some broken windows which provide the media with the story it wants. I am truly concerned that, if this movement is finished off by those in authority, that we will see a return to rioting within the very near future.
Let people have their voice and give them time to build. Maybe even offer them some assistance and locations to communicate in? I think you only have to look at the Police crackdown in the USA to see where we are heading. It’s dialogue and compromise which is needed here. Not dangerous ultimatums.