At 10.30am on Thursday 26th January 2012, Occupy Sheffield will attend a trespass hearing in Sheffield District Registry Court.

As with the case of the City of London Corporation v Occupy London, this case is being heard by a High Court Judge, namely Mr Justice Foskett. Unlike in Occupy London case, Sheffield Cathedral are seeking costs which already amount to over £8000 and have chosen to name 14 individuals (& “Persons Unknown”) in the court documents. Through fundraising efforts Occupy Sheffield has managed to raise enough funds to be represented by Barrister Michael Paget who also represented Occupy London in the St Pauls case.
This week the camp offered to leave the Cathedral forecourt seven days before the land was required for planned building works. This was the latest offer from Occupy which the Cathedral found unacceptable.

Occupy Sheffield feels strongly that all legal costs could have been avoided if a substantive discussion had been entered into at an earlier stage (and not 24 hours before a court case, a belated offer which we could only decline as the subject of our proposed eviction was not to be discussed!).

Occupy Sheffield believe that for the Cathedral to name individuals is unwarranted, and they should be removed. But this should not be a distraction from the fact that by naming ‘Persons Unknown’ the Cathedral are indicting working people, disabled people, Christians, homelesss people, unemployed people, young people and pensioners. ‘Persons Unknown’ are the 99 per cent.

If you are poor, take heed. If you are unemployed, take heed. If you are disabled and losing funding, or young without a job, or sick but made to work, take heed. If you are a worker who sees your wages stay the same, your conditions of employment ever weakened while the Chief Executive of your company walks away with more and more, take heed. Objecting to this situation may cost you dearly. Occupy Sheffield will soon find out if there is a price on the head of protest and protestors, and implore the court to determine that access to basic democratic freedoms is not contingent on access to funds.

We know already that the influence of finance on democracy is corrosive at the highest level. We await to see if access to funds will be determined a necessary entry point to democracy at the grass roots, and hope that the Judge will see that it is in the service of democracy to allow sustained and peaceful protest to take it’s course. We passionately believe that access to democracy is a basic right not contingent on wealth, and it is now clear that at the heart of our peaceful fight for economic and social justice is the struggle for democracy.

Occupy Sheffield