#OccupyLondon Protesters Force Iconic St. Paul's Cathedral to Close

From the Associated Press:

Protesters who have camped outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London for six days have forced the venerable cathedral to close to visitors for the first time since World War II, church officials said Friday.

The Dean of St. Paul’s, Rev. Graeme Knowles, said the decision to shut the doors of the iconic London church to visitors and tourists following the afternoon service was made with “heavy hearts” because of health and safety concerns.

He urged the protesters–numbering roughly 500, according to organizers, allied with the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations–to leave now that they have made their point.

“I’m asking the protesters to recognize the huge issues we face, asking them to leave the vicinity of the building so it can open as soon as possible,” he told reporters.

Knowles said he recognizes the group’s right to protest but wants them to recognize that the church also has “a right to open for our visitors.”

The protesters, who have placed about 100 tents on church grounds, arrived last Saturday as part of a series of protests in many cities throughout the world in solidarity with the “Occupy Wall Street” activists in New York.

They have braved chilly weather with the help of donated food and blankets, said protester Ian Chamberlain, 27.

He said the group was in no hurry to leave despite the dean’s plea.

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