The self-styled “Democracy Village”, which champions a range of causes from ending war in Afghanistan to anti-capitalism, has expanded from a lone tent to a sprawling campsite since Britain’s parliamentary election on May 6.
“Criminalising peace protesters like this proves that there’s no human rights in this country,” said activist Dawn Evans, 42, just after the Appeal Court ruling was delivered. One protester blew coloured soap bubbles in the courtroom.
The campers say they are upholding their right to free speech and peaceful protest, but London Mayor Boris Johnson went to the courts to have them evicted, saying the camp was an eyesore in one of the city’s most popular tourist hubs.
“The mayor respects the right to demonstrate. However, the scale and impact of the protest has caused damage to the square and has prevented its peaceful use by other Londoners,” a spokesman said.
The camp is located on a grassy area in the centre of Parliament Square, a spot where hundreds of tourists congregate daily to take photographs of Big Ben and visit Westminster Abbey before heading to nearby Buckingham Palace.