|Occupy protesters outside St Paul's Cathedral. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images|
An impasse between St Paul's Cathedral and the protest camp that has spent eight days at its walls remains deadlocked, with activists saying they will not consider church officials' request for them to move elsewhere until they receive a fuller explanation as to why this is necessary.
On a usual Sunday the 400-year-old London landmark would be full of worshippers and visitors. But the doors have been bolted since Friday evening when the dean, the Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, announced that the cathedral would remain shut until further notice because the 200 or so tents and marquees along its western edge posed a fire and safety risk.
A scheduled wedding took place on Saturday, with the celebrants using a side door, but worshippers for morning services on Sunday were faced with a notice directing them to the nearby church of St Vedast. A special evensong involving visiting choirs to mark the 150th anniversary of the Hymns Ancient and Modern publication has been moved to Southwark Cathedral, south of the Thames.
Some would-be worshippers were caught out. "We didn't know, so we're very disappointed," said a woman from a visiting American family forced to revise their plans for the day. But most tourists remained largely positive about the Occupy the London Stock Exchange camp, a protest against the perceived excesses of the global financial system.
"I suppose you could say we're part of the 99% as well," said Levin Brunner, an IT consultant from Munich, using the term coined by activists for the bulk of people who do not enjoy stellar salaries and annual bonuses. "We have similar protests in Germany, so we knew this was taking place and we have a lot of sympathy for it. It's very interesting for tourists to see, anyway."
On Saturday the activists set up a second base at Finsbury Square, a grassed area on the fringes of London's financial district, now home to about 60 tents. The movement says this is not intended to be a replacement for the camp at St Paul's, but more of an overspill as the first site is too full to accept more tents.
Activists face intense pressure to reconsider the St Paul's camp, not least for the resonance of being seen as responsible for the closure of a national landmark for the first time since the second world war. Church officials say the closure is costing St Paul's about £20,000 a day in lost revenue.
The protesters are deeply reluctant, strongly hinting that they believe the Corporation of London, which governs the City district, has joined financial institutions to place at least implicit pressure on St Paul's to take action. The Occupy the London Stock Exchange movement says it has spoken to both the fire service and local health and safety officials and has been told there are no safety issues.
"Until the cathedral was shut we were in regular contact with them and relations were good. But since Friday they haven't talked to us," said one protester, Sean, acting as a media spokesman. "We've asked for details about the fire and health and safety issues, but we've heard nothing."
The cathedral remains resolute. On Saturday its canon chancellor, the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, who a week before had welcomed what he described as a legitimate protest, issued a statement urging the protesters to leave.
He said: "I remain firmly supportive of the right of people peacefully to protest. But given the strong advice that we have received that the camp is making the cathedral and its occupants unsafe then this right has to be balanced against other rights and responsibilities too."
United States Marine Corps. Sgt. Shamar Thomas from Roosevelt, NY went toe to toe with the New York Police Department. An activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Thomas voiced his opinions of the NYPD police brutality that had and has been plaguing the #OWS movement.
Thomas is a 24-year-old Marine Veteran (2 tours in Iraq), he currently plays amateur football and is in college.
Thomas comes from a long line of people who sacrifice for their country: Mother, Army Veteran (Iraq), Step father, Army, active duty (Afghanistan), Grand father, Air Force veteran (Vietnam), Great Grand Father Navy veteran (World War II).