Another surprise take-over by Occupy London happend early this morning. This time the group of activists took over the former Old Street Magistrates Court. They were supported by an armoured vehicle - the Occupy Think Tank from the Veterans for Peace.
Despite being a stunning a Grade 2 listed building in a prime location in London's East End it is standing empty since 1996.
On their website Occupy London claims that the "new residents, who include members of Occupy Veterans – a group of former and active-duty servicemen and women drawn from the 99 per cent – have pledged to maintain a residence at the courthouse, to take good care of the building and to provide daytime use of the facilities for Occupy London to put the one per cent on trial. The residents have already spoken with the various stakeholders of the building and are looking to develop an open dialogue."
I arrived there this afternoon only hours after the building was "liberated".
Living 6 years in East London I had passed the beautiful Old Magistrates Court many times and always wondered what it looked like on the inside. Until today I didn't even know what it was used for. I have to say I love old abandoned buildings so I was like a child in a candy store when I entered and explored it.
At the same time I was buzzing because I was happy about the brilliant stunt that Occupy had made today. Another interesting chapter in the story of the global movement.
Please read for more updates on the Occupy blog.
And here more of my impressions from this afternoon.
The building is right in the heart of Shoreditch - one of London's most fashionable culture, bar and club districts and only a stonethrow away from the financial quarter.
The former court building is now privately owned and was apparently supposed to be destroyed to make space for a hotel.
A member of the Veterans for Peace next to the Occupy Think Tank.
Inside one of the detention cells...
...which was already reserved for one of the biggest supporters of the banks - mainly responsible for the financial crisis we are all in now.
Activist Kai Wargalla took part in the so called liberation which started around 5.30 this Tuesday morning. She was excited about the forthcoming court proceedings in this building. Kai who is originally from Germany currently lives in one of the tents at St. Paul's. She had weeks ago given up her normal student and working life to become involved with Occupy. She won't go home for Christmas to her family in Bremen this year because she wants to stay with her new friends from Occupy. That's what I call dedication!
I learned that the court rooms sometimes are used as film locations.
While the court rooms are still in a fairly good condition other parts of the building were already in a quite desolate state...
I have to admit, that's exactly why I love old buildings.
I loved the fact that the plant still had leaves on it despite probably not having been watered since 1996.
This door leads to the grand balcony on which you have this view over Old Street...
On the weekend these streets are packed with thousands of party folks.
I worked my way up to the roof top passing by these rooms:
It seems like people used to live there too.
This staircase leads directly onto the top of the building on which you can have...
...these stunning views.
No CCTV could prevent the whole building beeing taken over. Victory! :)
On my way up to the roof I met David Baker who is a journalist for blottr.com - the people powered news service. He published some of the photos I took for an article about the event here>>
On my way out I took this photo of activist Leon Pike who I have seen many times at the various Occupy sites, events and protest marches. He said he will be staying in the building over night, but not permanent as they will take it in turns. He already knew that the view from the roof at sunrise is spectacular and that I should come back to experience it.