Anticapitalist movement Occupy takes on the Olympics

A splinter group of anti-capitalist activists from Occupy London have joined Hackney residents risking their lives by blockading lorries from reaching an Olympic building site on publicly-owned marshes.

They are up in arms at a 12m-high basketball training hall being built at Leyton Marshes, which is just over Hackney’s border with Waltham Forest, but is used by hundreds of residents.

They also say it will ruin views across the River Lea from their homes.


Protesters are angry at the way they claim planning permission was pushed through by Waltham Forest Council last month, and want reassurances the development will not stay once the Olympics are over.

Direct action campaigners have been blocking lorries entering the site, where concrete foundations have already been laid, and now protestors from Occupy have joined them.

The peaceful protesters caused controversy last year when they set up camp around St Paul’s Cathedral, and were evicted.

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A score of them marched from their base in the City’s Finsbury Square on Saturday to join protesters from the Save Leyton Marsh group.

“Occupy is about fighting a disease that’s controlled by the one per cent that puts profit before people, and a symptom of that is lack of care for green spaces,” said an Occupy member.

“That’s why we we want to get involved.”

“It is public land, we aren’t doing anything wrong,” added Matthew Waterfall from Save Leyton Marsh group.

“The more people we can get down here to block the lorries, the more chance we have to keep enjoying this beautiful space,” he added.

Now Occupy has set up camp around the building site, and grateful Hackney residents, including Jean Bendall from Powys Close, have begun ferrying hot meals, blankets and jackets to them.

Another Olympic Delivery Authority application to excavate deeper has been submitted to Waltham Forest Council, but opponents are challenging on the basis an environmental impact assessment was never completed and a World War Two incendiary bomb was uncovered there by workers there just two weeks ago.