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OSLX: Does It Matter That Nine out of 10 Tents at St Paul’s Are Reportedly Unoccupied at Night?

Posted on the 26 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
OSLX: Does it matter that nine out of 10 tents at St Paul’s are reportedly unoccupied at night?

Occupy London, St Paul's Cathedral. Photo credit: Garry Knight,

Unoccupied? Reports emerged in the British press this week that 90 percent of the protest camp tents are unoccupied at night. The Times (£) published thermal imaging of the unoccupied tents, apparently gathered by police helicopters, while The Telegraph shot its own footage outside the cathedral.

Not true. However, Patrick Kingsley insisted in The Guardian that the reports were inaccurate: “I camped at the occupation last week. The idea that occupiers only use one in 10 tents is laughable”, he wrote. Kingsley said that protest organisers were using a signing in system to keep track of empty tents, and he estimated that the camp was three-quarters full during his stay. What’s more, Kingsley argued that The Telegraph thermal imaging footage was shot before most protesters had gone to bed.

Doesn’t matter. Whatever the true number of protesters camping overnight, Kingsley said that “part-time protest” does not undermine Occupy London: “Does it maybe not even just strengthen the protesters’ cause, as it reminds us that these aren’t layabouts with nothing else to do; many are professionals with jobs to maintain”, he wrote. Indeed, writing for The Huffington Post UK, Michael Rundle spoke to OLSX protesters who took a similar view: “Some protesters at the camp on Tuesday argued that it suited the agenda of some newspapers to assume that unless a protest is masochistically unhygienic it doesn’t count”, he said.

Time to leave? Meanwhile, the Bishop of London has issued a statement urging protesters to leave St Paul’s: “The time has come for the protestors to leave, before the camp’s presence threatens to eclipse entirely the issues that it was set up to address”, he said. The cathedral has been closed for four days.

Own goal? Indeed, according to a Telegraph opinion piece, Occupy London activists are now damaging their own cause by taking the focus off the real issues: “The public debate is not about the ‘evils of capitalism’, but about the way a much-loved monument is being sullied.”

Eyesore. A Times (£) editorial argued that OLSX protesters were being selfish: “In the case of St Paul’s, the continuing occupation is now violating the amenity of visitors and people who work nearby.” The editorial stated that the right to freedom of speech should be upheld, but that protesters were now impeding the right of others to religious worship.

A question of faith? By contrast, a Guardian editorial suggested that St Paul’s officials would “discredit Christianity in this country” by refusing to engage with protesters. The editorial argued that the idea that the camp must be shut for health and safety reasons is ridiculous, and that closing the cathedral was a mistake.

Divisions at St Paul’s. However, not all at St Paul’s agree that the OLSX camp should go: The Times (£) reported the Canon Chancellor of the cathedral, Dr Giles Fraser, has said he will resign if any legal action is taken to evict protesters.

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