London anti-capitalist protesters pitch tents at new camp

LONDON Mon Oct 24, 2011 5:36am EDT

Police officers walk amid tents erected by activists in Finsbury Square in London October 23, 2011.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Police officers walk amid tents erected by activists in Finsbury Square in London October 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - Anti-capitalist protesters set up a second campsite in London's financial district on Saturday, after a first encampment they established a week ago forced St Paul's Cathedral to close.

"We want to be good neighbours," said protester Kai Wargalla. "We had reached the limit of our capacity at St Paul's and the new camp takes the pressure off that site."

But the first collection of tents outside the cathedral did not appear to have shrunk on Saturday night.

The new camp is at Finsbury Square, one of the few green open spaces in the crowded financial district. Protesters pitched their tents outside the cathedral after police blocked their attempts to occupy the square next to the London Stock Exchange last weekend.

Church authorities closed the 17th-century cathedral to visitors on Friday for the first time since World War Two, saying camping stoves posed a fire risk and the tents limited access to the building.

The protesters, part of a movement called Occupy London, said around 200 to 300 people had joined the second camp and they were expected to stay for some time.

No one at the City of London police force could immediately be reached for comment. No one was available at Islington Council, the local authority in charge of Finsbury Square.

The demonstration is one of a number across Europe inspired by protests in New York attacking global finance and calling for a more equal distribution of wealth.

The British protesters say they are also angry about government spending cuts, tax rises, public health reforms and higher tuition fees for university students.

Officials have been turning away tourists hoping to tour Christopher Wren's cathedral, whose large dome is one of the most recognisable features of the London skyline.

But a wedding at the church went ahead as planned. Public relations manager Natasha Ighodaro entered the church through a side door and some guests expressed sympathy for the protesters.

"It's been amazing. There hasn't been any disruption at all - it's been wonderful, really amazing," the bride was quoted as saying by the BBC.

(Reporting by Peter Griffiths; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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