photo @occupylsx

In the event, the eviction of Occupy LSX was handled with competent police efficiency, but little regard for the safety or welfare of the people being removed.

The first phase was the use of overwhelming police numbers – forty vans were counted by a police monitor – to close off the front of St Paul’s and create a ‘sterile area’ keeping out any further support for the occupiers. Once established, the ‘sterile zone’ was periodically expanded, as police pushed forward against the people gathering there, using force, and without warning.

Inside the camp, it was officially the job of the bailiffs to evict the occupiers. But an eye-witness told us the police were eager to take over.

“The police were clearly keen to step in and do the job for them. They were waiting for any excuse. Then they realised that the occupiers had some water, and they were sloshing water about. Clearly you couldn’t have bailiffs getting wet. That’s when the police in their riot gear effectively took over.”

The police cleared the site quickly and efficiently, but without a great deal of regard for the niceties of health and safety. They tore at the temporary structures, and pulled people roughly to the ground from platforms occupiers were refusing to leave. One told how he had been grabbed by his face and thrown down from a height of six foot onto solid paving. A piano pulled away by the police toppled and fell on to the leg of one of the occupiers.

Throughout the entire eviction two forward intelligence / evidence gathering teams filmed and photographed everyone who was there, and the police made a total of 23 reported arrests.

The police also dragged away people praying on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral, despite the fact that they eviction order did not cover this area.

One worshipper told us he was disgusted at the complicity of St Pauls. “They told the police, effectively, they could do what they wanted on St Pauls land and property, to the extent they allowed them to physically drag away Christian worshippers who were praying there. It’s shameful.”

Despite the emphasis the police frequently place on the need for good communications and a ‘no surprises’ approach to policing, they had made little or no attempt to communicate with those at Occupy LSX during the eviction process.

The clearance of St Paul’s steps was also done with no prior warning, allowing people no chance to finish their prayers and leave by their own volition. People who had moved their possessions to the steps as the eviction took place, lost them as the police line moved.

It seemed to those watching that the primary consideration was to get the job done – as quickly as possible, with as little fuss as possible, and with as little respect for the occupiers as they could get away with under the glare of the media spotlight.