LONDON (AP) – Several supporters of the anti-corporate Occupy movement chained themselves to the pulpit of St. Paul’s Cathedral during a service Sunday in an action marking the anniversary of its now-dismantled protest camp outside the London landmark.
The Dean of St. Paul’s, David Ison, said he was taking an evening prayer service when “four young women dressed in white” chained themselves to the structure.
“It will be a long, cold night if they want to stay there,” he said.
Photos showed the women, one of whom was in a wheelchair, around the pulpit with a note written on an umbrella urging “throw the money changers out of the temple.”
Other protesters unfurled a banner with a similar message outside the church.
Occupy said the women cut themselves free and left at around 10 p.m. (2100 GMT; 5 p.m. EDT), after police officers told them they faced arrest.
Protesters against capitalist excess and social inequality set up camp outside Christopher Wren’s domed landmark on Oct. 15, 2011, after they were stopped from demonstrating outside the nearby London Stock Exchange.
The tent city embroiled the historic church in a conflict between bank-bashing demonstrators _ inspired by New York’s Occupy Wall Street protesters _ and the city’s finance industry. Church authorities’ position on the protesters shifted several times, and the cathedral’s dean and a senior priest both resigned over the issue.
The camp was dismantled in February after the protesters lost a court battle with local authorities.
A statement read by the protesters and posted online by Occupy accused cathedral authorities of neglecting their Christian duty by siding with the rich and powerful.
“In the fight for economic justice, Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple, but you invited them in and instead evicted us,” it said.
In a statement, the cathedral said it disagreed “with the way in which some protesters are continuing to pursue the agenda or conflict with St. Paul’s, rather than consulting with us about how together we might better achieve the reforms which many people including Occupy are looking for.”
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