London: Occupy liberates abandoned Old St magistrate court

As the LSX occupation prepares to present its case at the High Court yesterday, members of Occupy London alongside a group of military veterans – Occupy Veterans – have liberated a disused court house in London’s East End. The opening of Occupy London’s fourth occupation, will see the movement conducting “trials of the one per cent” in an abandoned magistrate’s court building which has lain empty since 1996, despite its prime location and grade II listing. [1]

The occupation of the Old Street Magistrate’s Court (335-337 Old Street, London Borough of Hackney), now renamed Occupy Justice, took place early on Tuesday morning. It was opened by Occupy London supporters and Occupy Veterans coming together led by the Occupy London’s ‘Tank of Ideas’, the movement’s armoured peace vehicle.

The new residents, who include members of Occupy Veterans – a group of former and active-duty servicemen and women drawn from the 99 per cent – have pledged to maintain a residence at the courthouse, to take good care of the building and to provide daytime use of the facilities for Occupy London to put the one per cent on trial. The residents have already spoken with the various stakeholders of the building and are looking to develop an open dialogue.

This fourth occupation joins the existing OccupyLSX camp by St Paul’s Cathedral, the Finsbury Square occupation and the Bank of Ideas, the abandoned multi million pound office complex of UBS on Sun Street, which Occupy London liberated in an act of ‘public reposession’ – now a thriving arts and community centre.

The one per cent on trial at Occupy Justice

Working with solicitors to construct cases based on English law, Occupy Justice will provide a much needed space to bring a sense of accountability to those whose actions have been in contravention of the public interest. These will not be show trials, but public airings of wrongdoing perpetuated by those in positions of authority. Occupy London will work hard to present solid legal arguments for scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

Initial cases will be announced shortly against those who have tanked the global economy, slashed Britain’s social services, stripped people of their civil rights and repeatedly lied the nation into war. It is expected that most cases will be heard in absentia.

Adam Fitzmaurice, Occupy London supporter and new resident of Occupy Justice said that the intention is to put the building back into public service, to satisfy a need for justice that the relevant authorites have so far been unable to meet: “The government has been unable – or more likely, unwilling – to bring those responsible for the worst economic disaster since the 1930s to justice, so the people have to assume those roles.”

“The way UBS owned Sun Street Properties has behaved towards the Bank of Ideas, with blatant disregard for fair procedure, shows how many of the most powerful financial institutions behave as if they were above the law. Occupy Justice are going to redress that balance. Unlike UBS, we’ll afford our defendants due process, but we do intend to hold people to account.”

Joe Glenton, a member of Occupy Veterans and former Lance Corporal who served with the Royal Logistics corps in Afghanistan explained: “Many people join the military to see justice spread throughout the world, but the reality doesn’t always match up to the promise. In theUK, the courts are meant to serve the people, but here too it feels like the courts are never allowed to hear charges against the one per cent. That’s why Occupy Veterans has come together to march in solidarity with Occupy London, and the wider global Occupy movement, in the aim of achieving justice, as well as a more just society, for all.”