Friday, 23 November 2012

Occupy Bath Occupies the Royal Crescent

Occupy Bath - Royal Crescent

And so, after weeks of planning, on the day that Occupy Bath returned for an anniversary camp to highlight the fact that we all still give a shit about all the issues we campaigned against last year, the council decide to close off our old base of Queen Square (along with several other parks) several hours before we were due to set up camp. True, we could have just jumped the railings and set up camp anyway, but that would mean that few would visit us.

Fortunately we were tipped off about the park closures and sent a small team down to investigate alternative sites. Two hours before our announced meeting time, work began on setting up the new camp in a more upmarket location - the grass in front of the Royal Crescent.

Once the camp was set up, and those who came to the meeting point in Green Park Station on time had been met and brought to the camp, a regular cook at the old camp made us a hot dinner, and we had our first General Assembly, with the main focus on the action we were to take the following day. We decided to target Starbucks over their taxes, and arranged security watch for the night. The rest of the evening was spent by the fire, talking about possible future actions and catching up with old friends. A resident from the Royal Crescent came down and joined  our camp, and many people came over to talk.

In the morning, we were greeted with the sight of bus loads of tourists, many of whom ignored the Royal Crescent entirely, and photographed our camp - that's bus loads of tourists from all over the world photographing Occupy Bath and putting the pictures up on Facebook, showing their friends that this movement is still alive, and that the reasons why it exists are still relevant. The Bath Chronicle, the BBC and several freelance journalists and photographers came to visit us, each one another opportunity to get press coverage of people actively demonstrating against austerity and a corrupt political and economic system. One year on and we were more experienced with dealing with the press, and managed to get most of our points across in the finished articles and news pieces.

At 2pm, some of us set off for our demo, with the rest looking after the camp. With a huge banner reading "$TARBUCK$ PAYS LESS TAX THAN YOU", a megaphone (and the Bath Protest Gorilla), we marched down to Starbucks on Milsom Street. We had a minor conflict with an angry security man, but there was nothing they could do to stop our protest. We then made our way over to the other Starbucks, on the High Street. Two PCSOs came over, but they only just asked us to keep the noise down. On the return to the camp we passed the Milsom Street Starbucks and did another brief demonstration.

More photographers were at the camp when we returned. After a few discussion sessions, South West Food Not Bombs cooked a community meal at the camp - the very first meal cooked by them, and hopefully the first of many. People from other Occupations, including Cardiff, Swansea and Bristol had come down to give their support, and some even joined us for the night. The final GA of the camp was focused on the future of Occupy Bath - and we have several things now in the works. The Sunday morning we awoke to frost. The tents were stiff as cardboard, and we had to wait until around 11pm before we could take them down.

We did not intend to use this location initially, but on reflection it was a better choice. Although not all flats in the Royal Crescent are inhabited by the super-rich, many of them are, but more than this, the image of a protest camp before one of the most famous addresses in South West England was an iconic and powerful one. Hopefully this camp has brought the issues of cuts and the banking system to the forefront once more, and will inspire others Occupations to regroup and do something again.

Occupy Bath has done much more than set up a camp - see my list here. Much of what we have done since we set up camp last time has gone largely unreported, except for on this blog, The Shittro and the BARF blog. We know that a few tents won't change the world, but it may just make people think, and consider whether or not its right that corporate-sponsored governments, out of control investment banking and the widening gulf between rich and poor are worth making a stand against and opposing at every opportunity.

See our article in the Bath Chronicle here:

My favourite piece on the old camp, and the reasons why it was set up, is here:

Links to all press coverage on Occupy Bath here (to be updated shortly):

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time.
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