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The Occupy Leeds camp on Friday

Joining a movement rapidly spreading across the globe, individuals took up occupation of City Square in Leeds at 9am on Friday morning. Starting small, including members of the Socialist Party, Leeds occupation has grown significantly over its first two days of existence, playing host to a number of visitors from other occupation movements across the country.

Nial Vivian, Leeds Socialist Party

The occupation, taking root in a prominent spot around a huge Christmas tree, has struck a chord with Leeds citizens. As soon as the tents were set up “we were just getting massive amounts of support from the public” states Mary, one occupier, “we’ve only had to go out for tins of soup once, and there are a lot of us here”. One sympathetic lady was even reported as spending much of the night ferrying tea to the occupiers using her bike.

Engaging with a number of people myself, it was clear that the movement resonates deeply with a large segment of the public, with their concerns ranging from the deep impact of the upcoming cuts to the way that today’s youth have been marginalized by the government. The occupiers themselves, whilst having been concerned primarily in the early days with the day-to-day running of the site, have too begun to hash out the political issues that brought them here. “One of the important things discussed was the LSX statement” reports Claire, “it was pretty much the opinion of the group that we agreed the LSX list of grievances was valid, we might add grievances to them or we might go into more depth with some of them, but that we wanted to have the time to develop our own concept of what this was about”.

With the coming of another cold winter and already a couple of rather rainy nights endured, it is no doubt inspiring to the people of Leeds to see their efforts on our streets, and I hope inspiring them to get down and get involved with the real political debate taking place there.

For more info about Occupy Leeds and how to get involved (or what things theywould welcome as donations) visit http://www.occupyleeds.co.uk/

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