St Paul's eviction a 'sad day'

Borehamwood Times: Members of the Occupy camp face down attempts to evict them from in front of St Paul's Cathedral Members of the Occupy camp face down attempts to evict them from in front of St Paul's Cathedral

A former senior figure at St Paul's has attacked the eviction of anti-capitalist protesters from the steps of the cathedral as a "terrible" sight and a "sad day" for the Church of England.

Giles Fraser, who resigned as canon chancellor of St Paul's rather than see the protesters evicted by force, spoke of his dismay after seeing the camp cleared more than four months after the occupation began. He said: "Riot police clearing the steps of St Paul's Cathedral was a terrible sight. This is a sad day for the Church."

Dr Fraser's remarks come after he tweeted that he was "really proud" of the way Occupy protesters had conducted themselves during the eviction. Bailiffs and police arrived at the site early on Tuesday morning, five days after Occupy London was refused permission by the Court of Appeal to challenge orders evicting protesters.

Stuart Fraser, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, said: "It is regrettable that it had to come to the need for removal but the High Court judgment speaks for itself. The site has now been cleared and the area is undergoing a deep clean."

The City of London Corporation called on campers to remove their tents voluntarily. Although some remained on site when police arrived, many began dismantling the equipment before bailiffs moved in.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters remained defiant, waving flags and banging tambourines on top of a makeshift wooden structure facing the cathedral. The platform was eventually dismantled by bailiffs after police in riot gear surrounded it.

Campaigners were also cleared from the steps of the cathedral. An Occupy London spokesman said its School of Ideas in a disused school building in Islington, north London, had also been evicted.

Supporter Kai Wargalla, a 27-year-old student from Germany who has been camping at St Paul's since the occupation began on October 15, said: "It's really sad but I think we can be proud of what we've achieved. Our community is being attacked here, but we're going to reconvene and come back stronger."

St Paul's Cathedral said in a statement: "In the past few months, we have all been made to re-examine important issues about social and economic justice and the role the cathedral can play. We regret the camp had to be removed by bailiffs but we are fully committed to continuing to promote these issues through our worship, teaching and Institute.

"The cathedral is open and set aside for prayer and reflection. The cathedral is accessible to everyone. The area currently cordoned off is for essential repairs to damaged paving. Clergy are available throughout the day for pastoral care and support."

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