Occupy Cardiff removed

Posted on November 12, 2011

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Last night Cardiff became the only city to have their Occupy camp removed before it had even been in place for 24 hours

Occupy Cardiff chose 11.11.11 as the date to bring the recent occupy movement to Cardiff as part of a global day of action in solidarity with the worldwide movement. Occupations in the UK have included other capitals Edinburgh and London.

After meeting earlier in the afternoon at the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen’s Street, often chosen as a meeting point for its visibility, ease of access and, as the founder of the National Health Service, Nye Bevan is seen by many as representative of a more caring community.People at Occupy Cardiff

I got there around 5pm when it was already raining heavily but more people were arriving after finishing work, at this time the group was about 60 to 70. It was clear occupiers were organised to camp for a while with camping equipment and designated legal observers. There were also many donations of food from supporters including chips, stew and vegan flapjacks from the PCS union.

Occupiers came from a variety of age groups and political persuasions including socialists, anarchists and people who just wanted to take some physical action against the inequality in society between the super rich and everyone else, referred to as the 99%. Many people hadn’t been involved in this type of action before. I spoke to a nurse assistant about to go on a night shift, a support worker from a homeless hostel and a retired academic who saw his pension as his “fuck you fund” allowing him to do all the things he felt restricted to when he was employed.

The land outside the castle is covered by a by-law from two century’s ago and it was decided to use this, as well as legislation devised for ravers and hunt saboteurs, to removed people from the area.

Councillor Neil McEvoy arrived to address the crowd asking the protesters to leave the site and suggesting they set up in Callaghan Square. However, the castle had been chosen for a reason. It is a visible point with ease of access for community involvement as the camp grew. Callaghan Square is more hidden. Also Cardiff Castle was given to the people of Cardiff in 1947 by the 5th Marquess of Bute. McEvoy’s fellow Plaid Cymru member and Assembly Member for South Wales Central, Leanne Wood had written a statement in support of the occupation earlier that day.

As the owners of the land (the council) had asked the occupiers to leave the police said they would give people 30 minutes before the threat of arrest. Some hours later there was still a stand off. Support came from the pavement beside the castle. People who were either part of the group and avoiding arrest, passers by voicing support, or just curious as to how events would unfold. I saw no criticisms though and heard many supportive car horns, while I was there, from the busy road nearby including from a Newport Bus.

Many people had been beaten by the rain, or had to leave due to family or work commitments, and numbers were now down to about 30. This is when the police got reinforcements and began to move in, pushing the line of protesters back, towards the underpass to the side of the castle. When they got to the tents they were taken down and then, as people stood their ground on the slippery grass six people were arrested. People on the pavement were moved using police horses and police on foot.

It’s not clear where Occupy Cardiff will go next but many people last night voiced feelings that it wasn’t over for good.

Thanks to Andy Williams @llantwit for the video

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