MANCHESTER is under occupation – and according to campers who have made their home in the Peace Gardens near St Peter’s Square, it’s likely to stay that way for some time yet.
Members of the Occupy group have struck an agreement with Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Police, allowing them to stay there as long as they want.
“The people in power don’t care about us. We need to come together and show them that we want change.”
Around 30 tents are now pitched in the gardens, and each person seems to have their own reason for being there.
Trky - pronounced ‘Tricky’ - from Hyde, joined them a week ago and is calling for people to fight for their rights and ‘remove the shackles’ placed on them by government.
Asked about his reason for the occupation, he said: “We want to bring back humanity, bring back democracy.”
He rejects the label ‘protester’, defining himself as lifelong ‘pro-activist’, and said he has given up money and stopped being a member of society when he returned his birth certificate.
“We’re manipulated by the ruling elite and told that we’re all in the same boat,” he said. “The modern form of slavery is money and it’s used to shackle us. We have to show them that we can think for ourselves.”
Wes, a clothing designer by day, has been on a number of marches around England but believes there is much more to be done.
“The people in power don’t care about us,” he said. “We need to come together and show them that we want change.”
The group is a mix of people with similar aims, but Trky said there had been some tension within the camp.
“There’s no leader or organiser,” he said. “We’re not all like-minded, but generally we are getting on well.”
One particularly vocal camper, Keith, insisted they are in this for the long haul.
“I have no intention of leaving,” he said. “If we can create a utopia, why would I want to leave?
“I’ve been coming and going because I have a son and other commitments. Some people are even turning up from London.”
A number of large businesses, who Confidential was asked not to name to avoid getting helpful employees in trouble, have supplied campers with food and hot drinks and allowed them to use their power supply.
One fast food chain and a branded coffee shop has been helping out, which Trky claims is ok because the help is being offered by ‘the humans at the bottom of the chain.”
The group is even planning to get a generator installed but in the meantime, they have had to rely on the kindness of nearby businesses.
The camp cannot use a bin collection service so often leave bags of rubbish outside the Town Hall.
Occupy is planning a meeting at Piccadilly Gardens this weekend, which they hope will start an open conversation about ‘important issues.’
“It will be the first democratic assembly in Manchester since Peterloo in 1819,” said Trky.
Keith is keen to make sure the campers come across well and has banned alcohol from the camp until after the meeting.
“We all need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed,” he said. “It’s all about perceptions.”
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