Climate Activists Join Anti-Capitalists in Canary Wharf’s Biggest Protest

17 Jun

Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA

by Kara Moses / The Guardian

An estimated 200 people occupied Canary Wharf to protest against public spending cuts and lack of action against climate change.

One of London‘s key financial districts saw its biggest ever protest on Friday as an estimated 200 people occupied Canary Wharf to protest against public spending cuts and lack of action against climate change.

Among the protesters were pensioners, children, people with disabilities, a brass band, musicians and a range of groups including Fuel Poverty Action, Disabled People Against Cuts, the Greater London Pensioners Association, No Dash for Gas and UK Uncut.

A spokeswoman for the event said: “We picked Canary Wharf because it’s a symbol of out-of-control neoliberal capitalism. It’s completely private property where protests have been outlawed. We’ve come here because we want to pull together anti-capitalist, climate and anti-austerity struggles.”

The owner of Canary Wharf has previously taken legal action and put in place security measures to prevent protests in home of some of Britain’s biggest banks. The action was part of a range of anti-G8 protests currently taking place, but unlike other events this one passed peacefully.

Protesters erected and scaled bamboo tripods – structures designed to prevent attempts to clear the area by force. An assembly, speeches and workshops were held, as well as creative activities, music and poetry performances and guerilla gardening.

James Granger, of Fuel Poverty Action, who helped organise the event, said the banks and financial institutions in Canary Wharf are “bankrolling fossil fuel projects across the world which are causing climate change and fuel poverty”.

“The price of fossil fuels is increasing, which is leading to one-quarter of the UK population facing the choice between heating and eating,” he said. “I’m here to say that there is an alternative – renewable energy which is cheaper and cleaner, and an economy that works for the needs of people not the needs of profit.”

Betty Cottingham of the Greater London Pensioners Association said: “I’m here to protest along with the young and middle-aged people about what this lot are doing to our world. There’s going to be 3,000 extra deaths this winter because pensioners and other people daren’t turn the heating on.”

A Canary Wharf banker, who did not wish to be named, said he did not make the link between banking and the recession. “If it hadn’t been caused by banking it would have been caused but something else,” he said. “I think these people are here because they care about what’s going on out there and the recession has given them a justification to get out here and do this.”

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