Occupy Plymouth protest group sets up camp in city centre
THE FIRST of what are expected to be many tents were erected in Plymouth city centre, as protesters highlighted the nation's growing discontent with the financial crisis.
The Occupy Plymouth activists chose the Jigsaw Garden, opposite the Roland Levinsky building at Drake Circus, to build the encampment, and shortly after noon on Saturday, the first three tents were pegged down.
By nightfall they were joined by several more tents, with others expected to follow over the next few days.
The Occupy Movement said it hopes to bring together hundreds more like-minded people in the coming days, claiming they will "stay for as long as possible", mirroring protests across the globe.
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Some of the early arrivals wore Guy Fawkes masks made famous by the V for Vendetta graphic novel and film, and now used as the symbol for Anonymous – considered the world's most famous group of hacker-anarchists.
Tim Gulliver, media spokesman for the Occupy Plymouth group, said the plan was "to stay for as long as possible."
Tim, from Peverell, said the group – started on Facebook – had held two planning meetings and has the support of Plymouth Trades Union Council and various political organisations.
He said the aim was to "draw attention to the inequalities in society" and speak for 'the 99 per cent'.
He said: "Figures from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs show that the richest one per cent of the population owns 23 per cent of the total UK wealth.
"The Times Rich List shows how the rich are getting richer every year. We clearly aren't all in this together.
"We come from different political backgrounds and from none. We come from across Plymouth and the surrounding area.
"We are old and young, in work, out of work and in education. What unites us is the knowledge that the system we live under is wrong, unsustainable and economically and ethically bankrupt.
"We have come together to stand against the greed of corporate Britain and the belief that the 'free market' can solve all of our problems.
"We are part of a global movement because the system we stand against is global in its exploitation.
"We live in a country of vast inequality and have a government that is more concerned about business profits than people.
"We are the 99 per cent."
Tony Staunton, secretary of Plymouth Trades Union Council, said he believed the protest offered hope and inspiration to workers facing cuts and unemployment.
He said: "This is the start of the English revolution. We have applauded the revolts across southern Europe and the Middle East against the plunder of the super-rich, now we are fighting back here at home.
"The demand is simple – the super-rich corporate executives and bankers have taken all the taxpayers' money, and we want it all back!"
A lone Police Community Support Officer was on hand as the first activists arrived.
PCSO Tyrst Fentem spoke briefly with them, as the first tents were placed on the private land. He said he merely warned them to keep safe, particularly at night, and to contact police if they felt threatened by anyone.