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Occupy Exeter: 'We're here to stay'

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 03, 2013

By Fran McElhone

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MEMBERS of anti-capitalist group Occupy Exeter have vowed to continue their campaign to highlight the impact of corporate greed.

After vacating the Cathedral Green following a four-month occupation during February, the protest group staged various demonstrations and awareness-raising events across the city last year.

As the group looks ahead to 2013, one of its members, Ghee Bowman told the Echo that the issues the group has campaigned over haven't gone away.

"We're still trying to highlight and draw attention to the social and economic inequality which is happening all around us," he said.

Their protests have involved staging demonstrations outside a number of leading retailers they claim are avoiding tax, such as Starbucks.

And more recently, on Monday, December 31, the group hosted a moneyless market, where people were invited to bring along unwanted items to be exchanged or given away.

"Tax evasion is an issue which affects all of us," Ghee said. "We are expected to pay our taxes and yet there are companies not paying their fair share."

Other initiatives have included a 24-hour occupation of Southernhay and supporting international Free Money Day, where members of the group handed out £2 to shoppers encouraging them to pass on £1 of it to someone else.

"This was about getting people to think about giving and the value and importance of money," Ghee said.

"We put a lot of importance on the pound in our pockets, but there are more important things in life such as love and friendship."

The group has also been extending its support to other campaign groups including environmental group, Transition Exeter.

This year members are also hoping to establish a base in a shop front for their discussions, workshops and markets.

"We haven't gone away because the issues haven't gone away, in fact they've got worse," Ghee added.

"The homeless situation in Exeter is getting worse, people are still dealing with unemployment, pay freezes and pay cuts – and yet there are people and companies out there still profiting.

"The movement is about educating people. One of our early slogans was, 'If you're not angry, you're not paying attention'.

"Seeing someone homeless on the streets is representative of wider problems in society and we want people to take notice."

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