On Thursday night, campaigners from York set up a protest camp in Library Square on Museum Street. The camp, dubbed Democracy Camp York, has issued the following statement:
We are all being excluded from political decision making in a system where democracy happens once every five years. We are here in library square to challenge this. We challenge the growing power of unelected and unaccountable corporations such as the influential banking lobby. We challenge a system that erects ever higher barriers to participation and ignores its citizens. We challenge the political elite that has stifled real debate in favour of an undemocratic managerial style.
Ideological and severely damaging policies such as the public sector cuts have been pushed through without consideration of people’s needs and views. Elected politicians have been serving the whims of the market and not the will of the people. We need a more imaginative, inclusive and engaging process that works to create a more equal society, harnessing the political passions of its citizens.
The consequences of this broken system have been devastating. We have all seen the decline in the strength of our communities and the level of political participation. At the same time our society has faced increasing inequality, the imminent danger of environmental crisis, and even threats to our civil liberties. Much needed alternatives to the Westminster consensus are not being discussed by professional politicians or the media, and we are being systematically excluded from the process.
Over the last 10 weekends in London, camps like ours have taken place in Trafalgar Square, creating space for a form of protest centred on debate. We want to move that debate wider than London, into our own city, and encourage others to do so as well. We want to raise awareness, provide a forum for real debate and give people support in getting involved. The newly re-created Library Square is outside two key public services: the housing office and the Explore Centre. Both are used regularly by York residents who rely on these services.
The current plan is to stay until at least Sunday, with decisions on how to move forward from there being made in mass meetings at the camp. Tonight sees a “Speakers Corner” open mic session, while events for the upcoming days will be decided through mass meetings on site.
Already the camp has hit the media, with reporters from the York Press, Minster FM, Radio York and Look North all making visits, as well garnering attention online from Green author and activist Derek Wall. The Facebook group UK Revolution has seen messages of support from the UK, France and Spain. Members of several unions and other campaign groups have made visits to the camp, along with countless local residents and tourists.
York Anarchists will be providing updates through the camp via our Facebook page. Come down!