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Protesters bed down at cathedral

Associated Press - Sun, Oct 16th 2011


Protesters are preparing to spend their second night camped out in the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral as part of an anti-capitalist demonstration in London.

The makeshift camp was set up after thousands of people descended on the area around the city's stock exchange on Saturday, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York.

Protesters pitched their tents at the foot of the steps of St Paul's after police cordoned off Paternoster Square, where the stock exchange is located.

Between 200 and 300 remain there, Scotland Yard said, but "the mood is calm", according to a spokesman. Protests in other parts of the world, notably Italy, were marred by violence.

The force said there had been "no notable incidents of disorder across the protest area" last night or during Sunday.

Eight people have been arrested over the weekend, mostly for public order offences and alleged assaults on police. Six people have been charged and are due to appear in City of Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday.

The Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, spoke to protesters on Sunday. He said that while he had not given his specific backing to the occupation of St Paul's Churchyard he supported the democratic right to protest.

He said: "People have a right to protest and it's been very good natured. Church went down well this morning. There were no problems. We had no problems getting people in. People were very helpful."

Dr Fraser confirmed that he had asked police to move off the steps in order to allow worshippers better access to the cathedral and said he had talked about the protest in his sermon.

He said: "The gospel reading was about God and money, quite extraordinarily, so I did preach about it. Some people from the protest came in for mass, it was really good to see them as well."

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