Another Country Walk

Ockwells Park, Cox Green, Maidenhead, Berks. Mon 30 Mar 2015
The woods would be prettier in a couple of weeks when the bluebells were out
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Ockwells Park is a pretty ordinary piece of land on the edge of Maidenhead, never one of my favourite places even before Teresa May became its MP. Though the campaign by Joe Wilcox there for Class War might add a little interest even if he attracts few votes. But this time I was there for a family walk.

It wasn't a bad walk. Flat, not particularly muddy. A bit noisy for a while as it partly ran beside the M4. And it was a fine day.

Afterwards we went to a pub. Read the reviews on my phone in the car park, the worst I've ever seen. Fortunately they weren't doing food that day, but said we would find some at the next pub, a couple of hundred yards down the road. It looked more promising, with a sign saying it always had good food, but today turned out not to be a part of always. But a chap at the bar gave us directions to pub number three, now the un-Thatched Cottage.

No 47 out of 119 restaurants in Maidenhead on Trip Advisor didn't seem too hopeful, but looking at the reviews there were several who gave it 5 stars. Two excellent guest beers, a great starter, decent main course and a nice but not particularly exciting chocolate fudge cake later I felt reasonably happy and very full. And it was one of the cheaper pub meals I've had in a country pub in a while. Five stars might be generous but it was certainly good enough for me to be happy to go back again, and to wonder about the kind of people who bother to write some internet reviews.
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Cross Bones Open Day

Cross Bones Graveyard, Redcross Way, London. Sat 28 Mar 2015

Two well-dressed men with Southwark poet and playwright John Constable in the Crossbones Graveyard
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When I was photographing the events at Occupy Rupert Murdoch I noticed the man in the centre of this picture standing outside a bar opposite rolling a cigarette and I went over to talk to him because of the way he was dressed, and to ask if I could photograph him.

After I'd taken his picture, he told me he was waiting for a similarly dressed friend and they were on their way to the Open Day at the Cross Bones Graveyard, which was continuing to 4pm. And I said I'd try to get there before it closed.

I'd been to the graveyard before, the first time years ago when I'd wandered in and the whole site was in a complete mess, with loads of rubbish and rubble. I'd read about its use for hundreds of years as a place where outcasts, particularly the 'Winchester Geese', prostitutes who were licenced to carry out their trade on the south bank on the Thames, in Bankside surrounding Winchester Palace, formalised by the Lord Bishop of Winchester in 1142, and providing a considerable income for the cleargy through taxes and fines for several hundreds of years thereafter.

These 'single women' and their children, along with paupers and miscreants were buried in this patch of ground until some time before it was formally closed in 1853 as too overcrowded to continue. Plans to build over it were stopped in the 1880s by the e Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884, and it remained largely unused and forgotten until disturbed by the Jubilee Line extension in 1990, when the Museum of London made some excavations. Their survey of the site suggested that up to 15,000 had been buried there, half of them children.

I'd walked past it earlier and assumed like some other areas of waste ground that it was a bombsite, but then became aware that ribbons and other tokens were being tied to the railings. Later I read about the site in various places

Apart from the mysterious phantom gardener, the other figure responsible for increasing intrest in Crossbones was local writer John Constable who revived the story of Cross Bones through his cycle of poems and mystery plays, 'The Southwark Mysteries'. Various events began to be organised around Crossbones, and although I never got to them, the ribbons on the fences multiplied.

The open day was part of an attempt to attract funds for the creation of a new public garden on part of the site being undertaken by the Bankside Open Spaces trust, which I posted about both on Demotix and Facebook.
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Murdoch on Trial - Guilty as charged

News International, London Bridge. Sat 28 Mar 2015

Murdoch guilty of war crimes, phone hacking, political blackmail, tax avoidance and environmental destruction
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Occupy Rupert Murdoch week continued outside the News International building at London Bridge with the People's Trial of Rupert Murdoch. Having been found guilty the verdict the sentence was to remove his power base and treat him with love.

I arrived when the trial was almost at an end with some of the last witnesses being heard before the jury gave its verdict and Judge Donnachadh McCarthy pronounced the sentence, which was then carried out.

Max Keiser then spoke about the economic fraud and the basis of our economic system. London is the the world's largest tax haven, and the whole basis of the City is corrupt, allowing people to borrow money on the basis of their earlier borrowing in a system that seems rather too much like the Emperor's new clothes which began to crash in 2008. He ended by handing out StartCOIN scratch cards with free money on them ("The currency of the revolution") but I think I lost mine. Always been hopeless with money.

There was then a performance by a Eath folk group during which I left to visit the Open Day at nearby Crossbones. I was told there was going to be an attempt to occupy News International around 7pm, but was tired and decided not to stay to photograph it. The rush past security proved successful and the occupiers managed to stay in the building for around 20 hours, although there was surprisingly little coverage in even the non-Murdoch news media. Those 5 billionaires obviously stick together and the BBC always seeks to marginalise any UK protest. Probably there was some important news about a minor celebrity hiccoughing.
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Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon

Purley, London. Sat 28 Mar 2015

Jonathan Bigger, Class War candidate for South Croydon launches his campaign in Purley
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Class War made the trip out to Purley, south of Croydon to launch the election campaign of Jon Bigger, who is standing in the 2015 General Election as the Class War candidate for Croydon South.

The group met outside the Tesco store at Purley watched by roughly the same number of police, and after a few technical hitches gave up on the megaphone and marched behind the Lucy Parsons banner ("We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live", possibly a reference to Purley from across the Atlantic) to the local Conservative HQ, just a couple of hundred yards away.

Here they were met by an elderly Conservative who Chingford candidate Lisa McKenzie set about converting to Class War while Jon Bigger made his election speech. The group then marched or at least walked over about a dozen light-controlled crossings to the local high street.

Probably all of Purley was by this time slaughtered at home in front of the TV as the sun was definitely over the yard arm. Wherever they were it wasn't where we were on Brighton Road, except for a few desperate souls at the bus stops on each side of the road trying to escape. But Class War made the best of it, handing out their election flyer to the police posse still devotedly following their progress (though mainly sitting in their van enjoying the overtime), the occasional local youth and elderly demented.

Ian Bone soon summed up the revolutionary potential and deserted for the pub, but the rest stuck it out for a little longer. Unfortunately I had a train to catch.
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RMT protest Ticket Office Closures

Elephant & Castle (Bakerloo), London. Fri 27 Mar 2015

RMT members were outside the station handing out leaflets

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RMT Members handed out flyers outside the Elephant & Castle Bakerloo Line station today against the closure of the ticket office and 25% staff cuts which they claim will endanger the safety of both passengers and staff.

The ticket office was actually closed at the time of the protest, but only because of staff shortages. It is due to close in July, and staffing levels at this station used by over 18m passenger movements a year are to be cut by 25%. Boris Johnson's 2008 manifesto stated clearly that he would stop ticket office closures, and he repeated that promise both in 2010 and 2011.
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Sweets Way at Annington Homes

James St, London. Fri 27 Mar 2015


Protesters with banners outside the door to Annington Homes offices
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Annington Homes is owned by Guy Hands, the chairman of Terra Firma Capital Partners Ltd, one of the UK's larges equity investers. Hands, thought to have wealth of £250m lives in tax haven Jersey and his company avoids UK Tax through registration in the Cayman Islands. But it has made billions here buying up property from the UK government and converting it to luxury properties.

Annington purchased over 57,000 homes from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 1996 including the 148 homes in Sweets Way (in LB Barnet) which had been built for service families in the 1980s, leasing these back to the MoD until they were no longer needed for service families in 2008-11. In 2014 Barnet granted Annington planning permission to completely demolish Sweets Way and build 288 properties, around 20% to be "affordable" with no social or council housing.

Annington started immediately to try and clear the estate of residents through evictions, although it now seems likely that even if plans are finalised building will not start until at least the end of 2016. But they will demolish perfectly good homes as soon as they can

Barnet have also refused to rehouse any of the displaced famiililes in the borough, and some of those made homeless, together with others still living there under threat devided to organise themselves to fight the evictions by occupying some of the empty properties, still in immaculate condition.

The families demand there should be no demolition of homes on the Sweets Way estate and the houses should be repopulated, with the decanted residents being given the right to return to their former homes, as well as an end to all eviction proceedings. They also want Annington to sell the estate to LB Barnet at a sensible price. Their petition with these demands has so far been signed by over 63,000 people and Russell Brand has given them his support.

The protesters and supporters, who included Jasmine Stone from Focus E15 with her daughter and several members of the Revolutionary Communist Group, brought banners and stood around the main door to the office building, one upper floor of which is Annington's offices.

They handed leaflets out to people walking along the street and going in and out of the offices, talking to them about Sweets Way and housing issues, and getting a very positive response from many of them. A police officer drove up and went in to talk to the security inside but said nothing to the protesters as he left. One of the West End security team came along to see what was happening and spent some time talking about the campaign.
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A Quiet Night at Poor Doors

One Commercial St, Aldgate. Thur 26 Mar 2015

Anarchists find not all flags burn, but it melted a bit
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Class War continued their weekly protests outside the 'rich door' of One Commercial St which they began at the end of July 2014, 8 months ago. The pavement was still restricted by work being carried out on the front of the building and the pavement, though little if anything appeared to have actually been done since last week, and the protesters feel the 'works' are simply designed to hinder the protests.

Police guarded the rich door, but there were no residents using it to enter or leave the building during the protest and the lights inside appeared to be off. Presumably other ways in and out of the building have been found for the wealthy residents, at least while the protests are taking place, probably through one of the businesses that operate in the block, which include a hotel and a supermarket.

A group of anarchists from an occupation in London arrived to join in the protest, and attempted to burn a Union Flag with little success - it would not burn, though it did melt a little. They stamped on it and tried again, before giving up, and then went to take a look at the door for social tenants - the 'poor door' - down the side alley.

This week there were no supporters from the social tenants at the event, as apparently those who have atttended and spoken to journalists at previous protests have apparently been warned by the owners that this is a breach of their tenancy agreement and threatened with eviction.
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Occupy Rupert Murdoch

News International, Lodnon Bridge. Thu 26 Mar 2015

Waiting for the evening's programme of events to start at Occupy Rupert Murdoch
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When I visited mid-afternoon things were pretty quiet at the occupation outside News International. I hung around a bit, then came back later, but when things were just beginning to get going I had to rush off...
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Around Tower Bridge

London. Thu 26 Mar 2015

A dramatic sky made me even want to take yet another picture of Tower Bridge
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I'd gone to visit Occupy Rupert Murdoch, but there wasn't much happening and since the light was interesting I went for a little walk around, down to the Thames and along to Tower Bridge before goin back there.
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Arrest Warrant for Rupert Murdoch

News International, London Bridge. Mon 23 Mar 2015

Metropolitan Peace Officers, Donnachadh McCarthy and George Barda with a copy of The Occupied Sun
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Campaigners against the scandal of the UK's media monopoly, with 5 billionaires owning 80% of the media marched from London Bridge to News International to present an arrest warrant for Rupert Murdoch, charging him with for war crimes, phone hacking, political blackmail, tax avoidance and environmental destruction. After someone from News International had come and accepted the warrant they then set up camp on the pavement outside for the seven days of Occupy Rupert Murdoch Week.
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John Lewis customers support Living Wage

John Lewis, Oxford St, London. Sat 21 Mar 2015

A John Lewis customer talks to a shopper about the Cleaners' in the store demanding a living wage
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Customers of John Lewis & Waitrose protested at stores around the country calling on the management board of the company committed to fairness to ensure its cleaners get paid a living wage. Over 143,000 have now signed a petition on Change.org.

Some members of the IWGB, the cleaners union, came along to the protest, including the union leader, Alberto Durango, holding posters calling for a 'Real Living Wage Now' while the customers handed out flyers, talked with customers entering and leaving the store and collected more signatures for the petition.

Security staff from John Lewis and police watched the protest, and moved the customers to the street side of the line in the pavement outside the store showing the limit of John Lewis property. The store is obviously worried by the protests, and a great majority of the customers who took leaflets or stopped to talk with the protesting customers expressed great surprise that the company was not prepared to stand up for the rights of the workers who keep the stores clean.

John Lewis may not directly employ the cleaners, but they work on their premises and customers clearly expect that John Lewis would insist on proper pay and conditions for them as a condition of the tendering for the contract under which they are employed.
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Stand Up to Racism Rally

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 21 Mar 2015

Lee Jasper holds up a large poster responding to Trevor Phillips saying he is not a criminal, murderer or thief

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Several thousand who had marched to 'Stand up to Racism' through London stayed on to listen to speeches at a rally in Trafalgar Square. Speakers included Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Zita Holbourne, Omer El Hamdoon, Lee Jasper and many others.
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Britain First Protests anti-Racist March

Piccadilly Circus, London. Sat 21 Mar 2015

Britain first harangued the march from the steps of Eros, with Lilywhites behind them
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Around a dozen members of Britain First faced the march from the steps of Eros at Piccadilly Ciorcus, waving flags and shouting insults at the anti-racist marchers. Police kept the two groups apart, though there were a few scuffles, and after the march ahd gone past and I had left, a group of antifa took the Britain First banner.
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Stand Up to Racism March

BBC to Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 21 Mar 2015

The protest started at the BBC,who had no excuse for not reporting on thousands marching through London
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Thousands came to the Stand Up to Racism march from the BBC to Trafalgar Square to reject the scapegoating of immigrants, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and to celebrate the diversity of Britain, with the message 'Migrants are Welcome Here!
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Great British Tax Robbery

HSBC, Regent St, London. Sat 21 Mar 2015

A protester traces around the body of another with chalk at the Regent St HSBC crime scene

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UK Uncut campaigners arrived at the HSBC Regent St branch as detectives and robbers to highlight the bank's crimes in causing the financial crash and tax dodging, paid for by cuts in vital public services and welfare.

UK Uncut wanted to send a clear message to both HSBC and the government that their actions have been criminal:

The government told us they’d “protect the poorest and most vulnerable”. They said “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the brunt of the cuts”. And what have we seen? Dismantling the NHS and wrecking the welfare state. Cutting schools, youth clubs, sure start centres, domestic violence refuges and libraries. Slashing local council budgets. Attacking disabled people with inhumane ‘work capability assessments’ and cuts to vital benefits. Removing access to justice through legal aid cuts. Allowing the big six energy companies to push people into fuel poverty. Cutting jobs, wages and pensions. Selling off social housing and moving people away from their communities. Driving hundreds of thousands into food banks and making families choose between heating or eating.

Some of the protesters arrived dressed as criminals for the protest, and the bank, which had closed down a few minutes earlier for the protest was surrounded by tape marking it as a crime scene.
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Bermondsey Walk

Bermondsey, London. Fri 20 Mar 2015

The monument records the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey was opened to the public in 1885

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I walked around Bermondsey with a small group of photographer friends, really just an excuse to meet up, go to a couple of pubs and then end up with a meal, though Paul who organised it was using the occasion to plan a more sombre family event to commemorate a deceased relative who was born in the area. It was a fine afternoon and good company, but I didn't take many pictures.
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Poor Doors blocks Rich Door

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 19 Mar 2015

Class War's Chingford candidate Lisa McKenzie holds a poster on the window of the Rich Door
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Owner Taylor McWilliams was in the building, and Class War called for him to come out and meet them. Student protesters brought barriers from building works to block the rich door and one man was arrested when they used them to block the road.

The protest began as usual, with banners being held up in front to the 'rich door' on Whitechapel High St. This week a large part of the front of the building was fenced off for building work and the rich door appeared to be locked and not to be in use, with the wealthy residents presumably being directed in and out through another of the businesses in the block, which includes a betting shop, supermarket and hotel as well as the 'rich' and 'poor' flats.

After a few minutes a red smoke flare was set off and then a number of Class War posters were brought out. Some, including the Class War candidate for Chingford Lisa McKenzie held these up on the glass of the rich door and windows next to it, blocking the view of those inside who had been taking photographs. Some others fixed some of these posters to the glass using Class War stickers.

The protest continued with Lisa and others still holding posters. A number of mainly young anarchists began to bring some of the plastic barriers from works taking place on the pavement to pile in front of the rich door, and others took them out to block Whitechapel High St.

Suddenly one of the protesters was tackled and held on the roadway by a man and a woman, who as I approached showed warrant cards showing them to be plain clothes police. The male officer handcuffed the man and continued to hold him on the ground for several minutes until uniformed police arrived, when he was lifted up and dragged away towards a police van, which drove off.

The protest conitnued with people getting out flaming torches and standing in front of the rich door with them. As the protesters were leaving, three police officers who had been watching, including the woman officer in plain clothes who had earlier been posing as a protester, came to start clearing the plastic barriers away from the 'rich' door.
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Unite protest against Benefit Sanctions

Caxton House, DWP, Westminster. Thu 19 Mar 2015

Gill Thompson, whose brother died after being sanctioned holds her 211,822 signature petition
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Unite organised a protest outside the Department for Work and Pensions as part of a national day of action against punitive benefit sanctions on over 2m people which had led to increased poverty, misery and even death.

Among those taking part in the protest was Gill Thompson, whose brother, David Clapson, died after being sanctioned. She had brought her 211,822 signature petition calling for an inquiry into benefit sanctions to the protest to present to the DWP.

Unite here and at Job Centres around the country called for an end to all benefit sanctions which they say are a 'grotesque cruelty which leads to increased poverty, misery and even death.
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Dolce & Gabbana Boycott

Old Bond St, London. Thu 19 Mar 2015

'Love is What Makes a Family' says one of the posters at the protest by Gay activists & supporters
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The Peter Tatchell Foundation and the Out and Proud Diamond Group protested noisily outside the Old Bond St Dolce and Gabbana store in support of the international boycott over homophobic statements by the two designers.

The protest was made difficult to photograph by a large number of phtoographers and videographers, including several broadcast crews, who at the start of the event outnumbered the protesters. Working on the narrow pavement was also hindered by workmen who insisted on parking two large white vans in the way; when police finally arrived they were forced to remove them.

The protest came in response insulting slurs by the fashion designers against same-sex parents and their children during an interview with Italian magazine Panorama. Domenico Dolce said children should be born to a mother and a father, and condemed children conceived through in-vitro fertilisation as "synthetic babies...They are wombs for hire, semen chosen from a catalogue ..." His business partner Stefano Gabbana had in 2006 told the Daily Mail: "I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents," and both designers have firmly opposed same-sex marriage.

LGBT and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who took a leading role in the protest had earlier commented:

"Dolce and Gabbana are echoing ill-informed, outdated and homophobic prejudices about gay parents. Research spanning 40 years shows that children bought up by gay mums and dads are just as happy and well-adjusted as those from traditional heterosexual families. The key to a child’s welfare is the love of their parents, not the parent’s sexual orientation."

He and protest co-organiser, Edwin Sesange, the director of the LGBT Out and Proud Diamond Group called for a boycott of D&G, who have profited massively from sales to the gay community over the years.
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Debt Resistance UK #Blockupy solidarity

St Pauls and Goldman Sachs, London. Wed 18 Mar 2015

The protesters marched to Goldman Sachs in Fleet St and held a rally on the pavement there

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Debt Resistance UK showed solidarity with #Blockupy protests in Frankfurt over the opening of a new European Central Bank HQ, protesting in London at St Paul's and Goldman Sachs, whose activities were a major cause of 2008 financial melt-down.

The protest took place on the day that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered yet another austerity budget and when there where huge protests in Frankfurt where EU elites had gathered to attend the opening of a new European Central Bank building.

On the steps of St Paul's, the group were met by Lloyd's Bank whistleblower Ian Taplin, a former army officer who worked at the bank from 200-2010 before being sacked after demanding a proper investigation into the selling by the bank of financial products to the Bank’s poorer and more vulnerable communities at higher prices than its richer customers in breach of banking law. He plans to stand against Home Secretary Teresa May in Maidenhead where he lives on a broad anti-corruption slate to gain publicity for the allegations he has made to the Financial Conduct Authority. They rejected his initial complaints in 2013 but are considering them again after he presented new evidence this year.

Banks and financial institutions based in London have a long history of reckless lending that has devastated economies and societies across the globe. As well as being a major cause of the 2008 banking crisis, Goldman Sachs were responsible for the fiddles that allowed Greece into the Eurozone, and which have now caused a humanitarian disaster in the country.
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Free Shaker Aamer vigils continue

Parliament Square, Westminster, London. Wed 18 Mar 2015
The debate called for his release, but government failed to make clear why he is still being held
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The Free Shaker Aamer campaign returned for their weekly vigil the day after the government in a debate in Parliament backed the call for the US Government to approve the release of Shaker Aamer to the UK, but evaded questions concerning the delay.

Campaigners are convinced that the delay is caused by US and UK security sercvices who know that the evidence Shaker will give about his own torture and that of other prisoners in Guantanamo will make clear that they have taken part in illegal acts.
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Savage cuts to Adult Education budget

Parliament Square, Westminster, London. Wed 18 Mar 2015
The march, with a coffin for Further Education, reaches Parliament
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Staff and students marched to parliament in protest against the 24% cuts in Adult Education in England proposed by the government. After a picnic hosted by Tower Hamlets College on Parliament Square they marched accross the road to lobby MPs.

The lobby was organised by UCU London after the govt announced proposed 24% cuts to the adult education budget in England on 26th February. This would decimate Further and Adult provision, including ESOL, and has been called a “wilful act of vandalism” by the Union of University and College lecturers (UCU).

UCU argue that the cuts will:

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Kaya Mar on Budget Day

College Green,Westminster. Wed 18 Mar 2015

Political artist Kaya Mar shows his new painting of Chancellor George Osborne, shown as a lame duck with a crutch on an election duck island opening a red box to show the hatchet inside in front of Parliament in London.

Stratford to Hackney Wick

London. Tue 17 Mar 2015

Car Breakers, Hackney Wick
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I went for a walk from Stratford to Hackney Wick with an art student whose project is about walking in the Lea Valley. I didn't take many pictures while I was with her, too busy talking about things, but there were a few as we wandered through Stratford and along the Greenway, into the post-Olympic park and then down to Hackney Wick.

I said goodbye to her and then had a short wander in Hackney Wick on my own, taking rather more photographs before catching the train back to Richmond and then on to my home. It had been an interesting day, but the sky was too bland for good panoramics - I need to return when the weather is more promising.
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Class War go to Aylesbury Estate

London. Sat 14 Mar 2015

Lisa McKenzie with an Aylesbury estate resident in an occupied flat on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark
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Two Class War election candidates, Lisa McKenzie standing for Chingford and Jon Bigger for South Croydon, along with several supporters, travelled from Chingford to the Aylesbury estate to show solidarity with occupiers who continue to highlight the shameful treatment of residents whose homes there are being demolished.

Class War had earlier received a message from people protesting outside the estate who were being denied admission by police and bailiffs to the estate where a dozen or so families are still living behind high fences and anti-climb barriers, the access to their homes severely restricted by Southwark Council.

Southwark Council, having neglected the estate for many years, has decided to hand it over to developers who will knock it down and redevelop the area mainly for sale or rent at inflated London prices. The residents are being forced to move out against their wishes - clearly expressed in a council organised ballot in 2001 - to stay, and most will have to move out of the area and into more expensive privately rented accomodation with little or no security of tenure.

Chingford is a long way across London from Southwark, and it took us a train journey to Liverpool St, two underground journeys and a bus before the short walk to the estate.

A police officer watched the group as it made its way on to the train at Chingford, and stayed watching from behind the ticket barriers until the train left. The journey was enlivened by much banter and playing with the IDS masks that several had bought, both on the Overground and the Tube. Fortunately they were quieter on the busy bus from the Elephant, and we got off at the right stop. On our way to the estate we met some activists who sent us to the only way in still not blocked in this sector of the estate.

It was something of a detour, and once inside and on the elevated walkway we had to make our way around three sides of the block, almost a quarter of a mile, now eerily empty until we were looking down on the security guards blocking the tall gates to the front of the block where the occupiers were. I'd been down there below a couple of weeks earlier when they were moving from the earlier occupation in Chartridge to Chiltern House, and were putting up the huge banner 'Public Housing NOT Private Profit' on Chiltern House (soon stolen on behalf of the council.)

The lift in Chiltern was still working - there were still a dozen families officially living there, and we took it to the eigth floor, from where we had to walk up some stairs and then swing through a narrow gap onto the stairway leading up to more stairs and to the occupied flat in the top southeast corner of the building.

Our journey was rewarded by some extensive views across south London from the balcony of the flat, as well as through a window towards central and east London. It's easy to see why developers see estates like these as rich pickings, with knock-down prices from local authorities - Labour controlled Southwark Council made a huge loss in selling off the Heygate for a small fraction of its market valuation, and Aylesbury will doubtless will follow the same pattern. Hard to see why local councils of any hue should commit treason against their local population in this way.

I didn't take many pictures in the occupied flat, although many others were doing so on their phones. Some of the occupiers are very hostile to photographers, and some of the most vehement are almost certainly the undercover police who have infiltrated these groups. There were a couple present about whom I have serious doubts, though sometimes I feel it may all be like 'The Man Who Was Thursday'. Like all of those involved they will of course be recorded on the many security cameras still around the estates, as well as the police photographers who attend the various actions. Most if not all of those whose faces appear in my pictures from inside the occupation were people I know are happy (or keen) to be photographed.
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Class War celebrate Election Launch

Chingford, London. Sat 14 Mar 2015

Class War toast their candidate for Chingford, Lisa McKenzie, after the election launch
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In a tongue-in cheek headline I wrote 'Class War party discuss tactics for Chingford General Election seat', hoping to make my intention clearer with the media summary:

After a march and street rally in Station Rd, Chingford, Class War cadres adjourned with their candidate Lisa Mckenzie, who is opposing controversial Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith, to discus their forthcoming election campaign in the constituency.

As with other Class War events, this one ended with everyone (or almost everyone) going to the pub. Usually I don't go with them, not because I don't like a pint, but because I have to rush and get the pictures processed and filed. Today was different and I was going on with some of them to another event afterwards.

The summary wasn't entirely misleading, as there was some talk about the Chingford campaign, and Jane Nicholl got out a number of 'Iain Duncan Smith' masks for people to buy for use in it. And the pub seems likely to become an unofficial campaign headquarters for Class War.
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Class War Chingford Election Launch

Chingford, London. Sat 14 Mar 2015

Police seized Class War's 'Polictical Leaders' banner but they still have posters from the 2010 election
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Lisa McKenzie visited Chingford with a small group of Class War supporters, announcing her stand against Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith in the coming election.

They marched past the Conservative Association offices and the Assembly Hall to the end of Station Rd announcing to shoppers on their way that Class War was standing to give them a chance to kick out Iain Duncan Smith and the evil policies he represented, which inflict misery on the poor and disabled. They marched behind the 'Lucy Parsons' banner "We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live".

They were shadowed by a van full of police keeping a few yards behind, who were obviously taking this first official visit by the Class War candidate for the Chingford constituency very seriously. At the road junction they decided to turn back and hand out more flyers to shoppers and find a convenient place for a street meeting.

They stopped outside the Methodist Church, where candidate Lisa McKensie, a research fellow at the LSE whose study of the St Ann's Estate in Nottingham where she lived for many years was recently published as Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain and several others made speeches.

Unfortunately two days earlier at Poor Doors, the police had seized Class War's election banner showing four political party leaders, claiming it to be offensive, and had refused to return it. But Class War had brought along copies of the 2010 election posters on which it had been based, individual portraits of the then leaders including David Cameron, and they displayed these.

After ten minutes, police made a largely unsuccessful attempt to censor Class War's freedom of expression, with Sgt Champion, who had been standing beside the police van parked on the opposite side of the road walking across and ordering a man holding one of the 'Class War Wanker' posters to put it away or be arrested. After the 2010 election the Metropolitan police paid compensation to a man who had been forced to take these posters from his window admitting their actions violated his right to freedom of speech and expression. But after some argument Stan rolled it up and the sergeant walked back across the road and simply stared with arms folded at the group - several of whom continued to display the same posters for the remaining 20 minutes of the street meeting.

There were speeches from several others of the group, including another of Class War's candidates, Jon Bigger, who is standing for Class War in Purley, and the event was recorded by a team from Vice News as well as my photographs. There were a couple of angy reactions to Class War, including one elderly man on a bus who made his opinion clear in an appropriately Churchillian fashion, but most others took the flyers and were amused, with a few expressing a wish to help with the campaign.

The group then walked back towards the station, with Lisa stopping off briefly to put one of her election leaflets through the door of the Conservative Association. As they went into the pub opposite the station the police van drove off, but several constables were left behind to watch the area.
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Free the Hares boys protest at G4S

G4S, Victoria St, London. Fri 13 Mar 2015

A woman handing out leaflets merges into the poster of the Hares boys
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A protest in London called for the release of 5 young boys from Hares, held and tortured in Israeli jails which G4S helps to run after an illegal settler crashed into the back of an Israeli truck, whose driver accused the boys of throwing stones.

They have now been held without trial for 2 years over a non-existent crime, and could well be found guilty and be sentenced to over 25 years in jail. The courts find a high percentage of Palestinians guilty, even if there is little or no real evidence.
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Poverty pay at the Royal College of Art

RCA, Kensington Gore, London. Fri 13 Mar 2015

Protesters with IWGB banner and flags on the east side of the college next ot the Royal Albert Hall

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IWGB members, supported by students, protested noisily at the Royal College of Art against low pay of outsourced workers, demanding they be paid the London Living Wage now, not from September as the college has offered; the workers need it now.

The protesters gathered in front of the college entrance in the mews at the west of the main college building, and opened with a noisy protest there, banging on drums, whistling, blowing plastic horns and chanting slogans, mainly "Living Wage Now!" with RCA security and a couple of police looking on. Around 50 students had come out to watch and support them.

Flags flying and banners held up, they they marched onto the main road and along past the front of the college to the east side, facing the Albert Hall, where there was a short rally, led by IWGB leader Alberto Durango and Jason Moyer-Lee and watched rather anxiously be RCA security men.

They then marched back for a further rally at their starting point, and on around the back of the college to a small enclosed yard next to a dining area, where again they stopped and made a great deal of noise. Certainly everyone in the college will have heard the protest.
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Save Our Lions - ban Canned Hunting

Trafalgar Square, London. Fri 13 Mar 2015
A woman in a Lion sweatshirt holds up a Lion Aid banner and roars against canned hunting
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Several hundred gathered in Trafalgar Square to protest against 'canned hunting', where lions are bred and raised tame on farms in South Africa for rich visitors to pet, to 'walk with lions' and to shoot as trophy heads. It degrades a noble animals and threatens wild lions, which are captured for farm breeding to improve the quality of the stock.

Young females are often killed as soon as they have got too large for the petting zoos, as females are less prized as hunting trophies.

There were speeches on the North Terrace in Trafalgar Square and then the protesters lined up for photographs. I was invited to go across with a couple of protesters to South Africa House, where I took a few pictures as they posed in the entrance before security told us to leave.
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Let Ife Stay in the UK!

York House Immigration Tribunal, Feltham. Fri 13 Mar 2015
Workers from the Immigration Tribunal tries to move protesters away
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Protesters at the Immigration Tribunal at Feltham called for 2-year-old Ife who had Down's syndrome and her mother to be allowed to stay at their Peckham home where she can receive essential healthcare and support and not be deported to Nigeria.

I arrived a little after the protest had been due to start, but it had been delayed a little as security at the tribunal had told the protesters they were not allowed to protest there, and had called the police. By the time I arrived the police had been, and confirmed not only the right to protest but also that people could take photographs outside the tribunal. No recording equipment or cameras are allowed inside.

Security at York House were obviously not happy with the protest or the police decision, and still made some attempt to keep the protesters away from the entrance, though they gave up after a few minutes, perhaps in part because I was photographing them.

At one side of the paved area in front of the entrance people were holding posters with the signed petition to keep Ife and her family here, and on the other people held banners and posters explaining why it would be inhumane to deport her and her family. Ife is currently receiving care and support for Down's syndrome in the UK and would be get this in Nigeria, where she would also be under threat of persecution. More than a thousand people in the family's local community in Peckham have signed a petition for the family to be allowed to stay here.

Other posters brought up other cases related to immigration, including the killing of Jimmy Mubenga by G4S security guards during his enforced deportation from Heathow. The protesters intended to stay until after the case had been heard at the tribunal later in the day but I had to leave on my way to cover another event in London. The immigration tribunal is a mile or so south of Heathrow airport, well out from central London, and some of the protesters only arrived shortly before I left, with more expected later.
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Police seize Class War banner

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 12 Mar 2015
Police pull the 'Political Leaders' banner out of the hands of the demonstrators
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Class War protested outside One Commercial St against separate doors for rich and por. When they refused to put away their banner calling political party leaders 'f***ing wankers'*, citing their right to freedom of speech, police seized it, arresting one man who had kept hold of it.

The protest began as usual, with protesters standing in front of the rich door with their Lucy Parsons and Political Leaders banners, and a couple of police officers standing in front of the rich door. The protesters got out their flaming torches, lighting several of them, and a green flare rolled across the pavement. An officer came across to look at it, but sensibly left it to burn out harmlessly; another questioned some of the protesters trying to find out who had lit it, but apparently nobody knew anything about it, and the protest continued.

Then, after the Political Leaders banner had been on display for around 15 minutes, two officers came up and demanded it be put away as it was offensive. When asked if anyone had complained about it they said that they found it offensive. There was some argument and when the protesters refused to remove it, the officers then warned individually each person holding it that they were committing an offence and might be arrested, after which they seized the banner.

There was then a short struggle as three officers came and pulled the banner out of the hands of those holding it. One man, who had kept holding on to it longest was then led a few yards away and police talked to him. After a few minutes, with other protesters shouting to let him go, they handcuffed him.

Police reinforcements, including a senior officer, then arrived. Protesters complained to him about the seizure of the banner and holding of a protester, and after listening for a few seconds he went to talk with the officers holding the man. They then led him away down the alley past the poor door and then out along the road at the rear of the building to a waiting police van in Commercial St, which drove away.

Later I learnt that the police are keeping hold of the banner as evidence if the man arrested decides to go to trial rather than accept a fixed penalty. Over two weeks later they still had it. Probably police have had legal advice that a prosecution is likely to be unsuccesful.

The protest outside the rich door continued with one less banner for the usual hour.
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*I'm not offended by the actual text on the banner, but my ISP could be - or use it as a pretext should they wish to terminate my contract. The banner might be thought to be in poor taste, but I find it hard to think it offends anyone. It certainly amused many who saw it - and many clearly agreed with the sentiments. Police in East London who made a man take down Class War posters at the last election which had pictures of the party leaders and the word 'Wankers' on them later wrote a letter to apologise and paid compensation.

Viking longship invades Tate steps

Tate Britain, Millbank, London. Sat 7 Mar 2015
A very wide view of the Viking Longship on the steps of the Tate
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'Art Not Oil' activists took their Viking longship and banners to the steps of Tate Britain from the climate protest to tell the Tate to stop giving BP, a major world polluter, huge positive publicity for relatively minor sponsorship of shows.

The Longship first sailed to the British Museum when they were having a BP sponsored show on the Vikings, but was also on September's climate march. The plastic oil spills are a lot easier to clean up than the real ones BP has created such as Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and which could be truly catastrophic in the Arctic.
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Climate Change Rally

College Green, Westminster, London. Sat 7 Mar 2015


Tina-Louise Rothery and others from 'Frack Free Lancashire at the rally - 'And the Oven gloves are Off'
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The Time to Act climate change march through London ended on College Green, close to the Houses of Parliament where speakers from various groups including the anti-fracking nanas from Lancashire spoke and performed to an audience filling the area.

Among the speakers were John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, Kat Hobbs from CAAT, Bert Wander of Avaaz, Pete the Temp, Fatima-Zahara Ibrahim of the Youth Climate Coalition, Pete Deane from Biofuelwatch, Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth, FBU leader Matt Wrack, Rumana Hashem an evironmental activist from Bangladesh, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Tina-Louise Rothery who spoke toegther with a Frack Free Lancashire crowd, Dennis Fernando, UAF, Chris Baugh, PCS, John McDonnell, MP, and comedian Francesca Martinez. A woman from Paris (whose name I missed) invited us all to go there to protest at the climate talks there this December, and a 12 year-old read an excellent speech she had prepared.

There was then a performance by a large choir, Voices United, and the event concluded with John Stewart of HACAN who came on stage together with some polar bears from a protest earlier in the day at Heathrow who received prolonged applause.

We were then invited to take part in two further protests that were continuing the day's theme, with some protesters going on to take direct action around Parliament and 'Art Not Oil' proceeding with their Viking longship to protest on the steps of Tat Britain against the gallery accepting sponsorship to greenwash climate wrecker BP. Although the direct action was perhaps more newsworthy (and ended up with some clashes in which at least one journalist was injured and arrested, as well as some protesters) I decided there would be less coverage of the Tate action and so went that way. It was also on the way to Vauxhall station, a convenient place to catch a train home.
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Time to Act on Climate Change

Lincoln's Inn Fields to Parliament. Sat 7 Mar 2015
Tina-Louise Rothery from 'Frack Free Nanashire' and others from Lancashire sitting down on the Strand
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Over 20,000 protesters marched through London demanding action on climate change with divestment from fossil fuels, an end to fracking and damaging bio-fuel projects and for a 100% renewable energy future which would create a million new jobs.

The marchers met up in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and were led by a group of cyclists as the set off for Parliament. On the Strand, some of those present surged towards McDonalds, which was protected by a line of police, who had earlier largely avoided the large protest, after the organisers had said they were unwilling to pay for any policing of the event.

Hundreds then sat down in the Strand for around 15 minutes, including a large block from Frack Free Lancashire, led by the Nanas. The march then restrarted with a sizeable black bloc making itself noticed in Whitehall. When the march reached King Charles St, they peeled off from the main march and rushed down it, with a number of police following. I took a few pictures as they started, then decided to rejoin the main march as it went past Parliament to College Green.
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Poor Doors Zero Police

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 5 Mar 2015

Protesters briefly block Whitechapel High St with their banners, including the 'Party Leaders' banner
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Last week Class War were threatened with arrest as an officer found their 'Party Leaders' banner offensive. They came back to protest against separate doors for rich and poor ready to defy police, but for the first time in 20 protests no police arrived for the protest.

The protest continued as usual on the pavement outside the 'rich door' on Whitechapel High St, with speeches against social segregation and chanting of slogans against separate doors for the wealthy and the social housing residents. As well as displaying the 'Party Leaders' banner which had led to a threat of arrest by police, they also had their Lucy Parsons banner, with its quote "We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live". People were also holding the posters "Class War - You are now entering the Peoples' Republic of Aldgate'.

Towards the end of the protest, people took briefly to the roadway and held up traffic for a few minutes with their banners, before returning to the pavement and continuing the protest. As the protesters were packing up, a small group of protesters arrived late, having been held up in the congestion at Oxford Circus, where crowds queued for up to an hour to be let into the underground station.

Apparently after the rest of us had left and security on the 'rich door' had relaxed, this small group rushed inside through the door while a resident was entering and protested inside for a few minutes before being evicted. But by that time I was well on my way home.
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Aylesbury Estate Occupiers Move

Chartridge & Chiltern, Aylesbury Estate, London. Thur 5 Mar 2015
Activists evicted by the court from Chartridge moved to recently occupied Chiltern and put up a new banner
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Occupiers who had been evicted from 77-105 Chartridge by police and bailiffs on Feb 17th moved into the neighbouring 69-76 Chartridge on the same night, although Southwark Council had previously sent workmen to vandalise these properties to prevent occupation. There they spent the next week fixing up the flats to make them habitable once more and the occupation continued.

But the council obtained a possession order which was served on March 4th, giving the occupiers 24 hours notice to move or be arrested. I went to the estate when the notice was to run out, and found council workmen busy at work completing a high fence around the whole block, with tall iron gates. Those at the front of Chiltern , where a dozen or so familes are still living, were still open, and I walked in and across inside the block towards Chartridge. There I saw some of the occupiers taking some of their possessions across to the newly occupied space in Chiltern, a community area at the base of the block.

One of them objected to being photographed and I concentrated instead on the police dog handlers and council staff who were watching from the elevated walkway. Later with two other photographers I walked back to Chiltern where we photographed the notices on the outside of the occupation. A small group came out and took a large banner with the message 'Public Housing Not Private Profit' up to the first floor balcony and fixed it there. It was the same banner that I'd photographed last month on a balcony at the West Hendon estate. Again they shouted at the photographers that they did not want to be photographed, though I doubt if it caused the CCTV to be switched off. But they are not recognisable in my pictures here. But I feel activists have nothing to lose by being photographed when they are not breaking any laws, and antagonising the sympathetic elements of the press in this way is detrimental to their cause.

Three police officers including a dog handler (but no dog) then came and knocked on the door of the occupation. Surprisingly someone opened it, but then shut it fairly quickly and the police went away to the gate. Some of the occupiers were more friendly to photographers, and one was happy to be photographed with the banner above him.

Nothing more seemed to be happening, and after a short walk around some of the rest of the estate, including occupied blocks likely to be 'decanted' for demolition shortly - and almost certainly to be subject to further protests by residents and housing activists - I left the area.
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Homeless Persons Matter

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Tue 3 Mar 2015

Protesters hold up the message '# No More Deaths On Our Streets'
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'Homeless Persons Matter' say activists shocked by video and eye-witness reports of Los Angeles police shooting and killing an unarmed homeless man on Skid Row in an impromptu protest outside the US Embassy called by the group Love Activists. The protest was called at very short notice and there were few present.

Eye-witnesses say the man was unarmed but there was a scuffle when police tried to grab him. They got him to the ground, possibly using a tazer, and then, according to an onlooker "When they couldn’t apprehend him that’s whey they backed up and just started shooting. Pow, pow, pow. There was five of them."

The protesters at the US embassy had posters with the hashtags #NoMoreDeathsOnOurStreets, #homelesslivesmatter and #ACAB.
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Mexican President told Stop the Killing

Downing St & Parliament Square, London. Tue 3 Mar 2015

'Donde Estan?' - Where are they? ask the protesters about the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students
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Several hundred, many Mexicans, protested against President Peña Nieto outside Downing St, and in Parliament Square after he spoke in the House of Lords. They blame him for over 100,000 deaths and disappearances including the 43 Ayotzinapa students.

It was a colourful rally at Downing St, including some people with faces painted in traditional Mexican designs with people angered at the continued violence and killings in Mexico, and in particular about the disappearance of the 43 students, thought to have been abducted by police under the orders of the local Mayor and handed over to drug cartels. People held giant pictures of the students faces and shouted 'Alive they took them; Alive we want them back' and the whole crowd recited slowly in Spanish the numbers from one to 43.

Speech bubbles held by some stated 'Mexico has a skeleton in the closet' and a banner listed '110K killed, 22K disappeared' since 2006, deaths and disapperances they blame on the Mexican President Peña Nieto who was visiting the UK and speaking to Parliament in the House of Lords.

The protesters marched from the rally to Parliament Square, and the shouting came to a crescendo when a motorcade sped out and away, presumably including the president. They then marched back chanting as they went along Parliament Street the numbers 1-43, and the rally opposite Downing St continued,. As I left, Jeremy Corbyn MP was speaking.
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Shut Down Yarls Wood

Home Office, London. Tue 3 Mar 2015
Movement for Justice protesters outside the Home Office
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On the day that a parliamentary report was published condemning the UK immigration system, Movement for Justice protested at the Home Office demanding immediate closure of Yarls Wood following exposure of systematic brutality, racism and sexism.

The report by a committee, led by Sarah Teather Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central and a former Minister of State for Children and Families vindicates the struggles of detainees and ex-detainees for justice, freedom and respect and is a public nondemnation of immigration detention. It finds that the Home Office has abused its powers and that there must be must be an end to the torture of indefinite detention and a statutory 28-day time limit to detention, with every decision to detain subject to judicial oversight.

The report came the day after a damning Channel 4 undercover investigation of Yarls's Wood exposed systematic brutality, racism and sexism against the women held there.

Called at very short notice, the protest was not huge, but there was no doubting the determination of those present, some of who had been held in Yarl's Wood and other detention centres, that "Yarls Wood must be SHUT DOWN and the entire racist, sexist, corrupt system of immigration detention comes to an end."
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Maximus - Same Circus, Different Clowns

Westminster, London. Mon 2 Mar 2015

Kilburn Unemployed Worker’s Group Choir wore masks to sing "David Cameron is a W******“
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DPAC and other activists held a circus-themed protest at the London HQ of Maximus, who are taking over Work Capability Assessments for sickness and disability benefits from Atos, going on to the Dept of Work and Pensions before blocking Victoria St.

A sustained and militant campaign by DPAC and other disabled activists had both completely discredited Atos and persuaded them to quit running the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) which had been used to deny a large proportion of claimants the sickness and disability benefits they were entitled to in order to meet money-saving targets. Although many claimants got their benefits restored on appeal, some were unable to cope with the stress and committed suicide, desperate when they were left with no oney at all by the system.

Despite the computer-based tests having been found to be unfit for purpose, Iain Duncan Smith has continued to insist on their use, awarding US firm Maximus a lucrative contract to continue the harassment of the sick and disabled.

Maximus are also involved in the growing privatisation of the NHS, running the it for Work occupational health service designed to bully and harass people on sick leave into going back to work. In some areas they also run the Work Programme, forcing claimants into workfare to keep benefits; they also run similar welfare-to-work style schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.

The protest began outside the offices of Maximus in Queen Anne's Gate, and then moved on to take over the nearby mini-roundabout in Petty France as a 'circus ring', with various circus-styled performances, including a hula hoop display by Alice Rose and singing from Rockin’ Paddy who performed 'Battle of Whitehall' and the Kilburn Unemployed Worker’s Group Choir wearing David Cameron masks sang their 'David Cameron is a W******'.

From there the protest went on to the Dept of Work and Pensions at Caxton House, and after a rally on Tothill Street outside there most of those present continued to the pedestrian crossing in front of Westminster Abbey on Victoria St, positioning wheelchairs on it and blocking the street for some minutes.


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my london diary index
 

Mar 2015

Another Country Walk
Cross Bones Open Day
Murdoch on Trial - Guilty as charged
Jon Bigger Class War South Croydon
RMT protest Ticket Office Closures
Sweets Way at Annington Homes
Quiet Night at Poor Doors
Occupy Rupert Murdoch
Around Tower Bridge
Arrest Warrant for Rupert Murdoch
John Lewis customers support Living Wage
Stand Up to Racism Rally
Britain First Protests anti-Racist March
Stand Up to Racism March
Great British Tax Robbery
Bermondsey Walk
Poor Doors blocks Rich Door
Unite protest against Benefit Sanctions
Dolce & Gabbana Boycott
Debt Resistance UK #Blockupy solidarity
Free Shaker Aamer vigils continue
Savage cuts to Adult Education budget
Stratford to Hackney Wick
Class War go to Aylesbury Estate
Class War celebrate Election Launch
Class War Chingford Election Launch
Free the Hares boys protest at G4S
Poverty pay at the Royal College of Art
Save Our Lions - ban Canned Hunting
Let Ife Stay in the UK!
Police seize Class War banner
Viking longship invades Tate steps
Climate Change Rally
Time to Act on Climate Change
Poor Doors Zero Police
Aylesbury Estate Occupiers Move
Homeless Persons Matter
Mexican President told Stop the Killing
Shut Down Yarls Wood
Maximus - Same Circus, Different Clowns

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february
march
april
may
june
july
august
september
october
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december

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