'Occupy London' Starts Church Row
London--Sam Berkson, widely known in England as “Angry Sam,” the competition-winning performance poet, stood on the steps of London’s historic St. Paul’s Cathedral recently reciting one his latest works to an assembled throng gathered at the Occupy London site – a parallel protest to the Occupy Wall Street in New York City.
“Moral messages with twisted policies…Liberty costs money, forget equality…No fraternity, it’s been like this for an eternity,” Berkson said in rhythmic voice.
Occupy London participants set up their encampment in the square outside the famous landmark – one of London’s top ten tourist attractions – after a court injunction barred them from occupying the square in front of the London Stock Exchange less than two blocks away.
Like similar demonstrations around the world, organizers for Occupy London say they are highlighting social and economic injustice, which is as severe in Britain as in the US.
Britain is currently being run by a conservative government in coalition with the Liberals, another conservative party, and this government has been instituting harsh austerity measures which are hammering the most vulnerable members of society. For example disabled persons are being compelled to find jobs or risk losing their already meager government benefits.
The “current examinations to assess fitness to work [approves] two-thirds of claimants as fit, including those with terminal illness,” wrote Claire Glasman of the disability rights group Winvisible in a comment posted on the website of the Crossroads Women’s Centre located in North London.
Blasting government budget priorities, Glasman wrote, “Bankers and politicians have come off relatively unscathed. Why should the most vulnerable pay to clear up their mess?”
Some conservative government officials have called for cutting government benefits to persons participating in the Occupy London protest, according to news reports.
Occupy London began on October 15th,, a day when, according to news accounts in the Guardian newspaper, 950 protests were held in over 80 countries against corporate dominance of government at the expense of regular citizens.
“F*** the poor and help the rich,” Angry Sam states in his poem “London 2012,” which he recited outside St. Paul’s Cathedral.
That poem is Angry Sam’s assessment of the Olympic Games scheduled for next summer in London. These games have caused the government to make major improvements in local infrastructure like public transportation, but have not delivered on promised employment and economic benefits in the communities adjacent to the Olympic site--communities which are among the poorest areas in Britain.
Berkson said inspiration for that poem arose from the “desperate increase in inequality and in business-friendly policies that are ruining the country.”