Freedom for Alfon - Anarchists protest

Spanish embassy, Belgrave Square, London. Tue 16 Sept 2014
Members of Colectivo Anticapitalista Londres with a poster calling for Freedom for Alfon outside the Embassy
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Colectivo Anticapitalista Londres protested at the Spanish Embassy against the trial of Alfon, arrested close to his home during the general strike on November 14, 2012. He stands trial tomorrow in Madrid, falsely accused by police of carrying explosives. The 21 year old picket was held under terrorism laws for 56 days before being released prior to his trial. If found guilty he could face over 5 years in prison.

The protesters posed with a banner and placards in front of the embassy, before two of them read speeches from their mobile phones giving details of the case. They claim that the arrest and charges are politically motivated and simply an attempt to clamp down on dissent.

Alfon - Alfonso Fernández Ortega - is the son of Elena Ortega, a well-known leftist activist in the Vallecas neighbourhood of Madrid. Police claim he was carrying a bag in which there was a container of petrol, but Alfon denies this. His trial on September 17 was suspended shortly after it started until November 25 as the three police who were to give evidence were not present. He also faces a second trial to begin on 11 November for assaulting police which could result in a sentence of two and a half years.
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Stop the Human Zoo petition to Barbican

Barbican Arts Centre, London. Tue 16 Sep 2014

Campaigners outside the Barbican with the petition signed be 21,540 people
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Protesters delivered the 'Stop the Human Zoo' petition against the forthcoming exhibition they say degrades black people to the Barbican. A 700-strong protest on Saturday would not hand it over as only the Head of Security was there to receive it.

The petition was organised by Birmingham based black activist and journalist Sara Myers (centre above) and was against the show they intended to put on by artist Brett Baileym, Exhibit B, in which African actors were to be shown in cages.

This was a small protest, organised at the last minute after the Barbican had refused to discuss the petition at the much larger protest the previous Saturday. A small group of protesters took the box containing the petition into an office at the front of the building and spent a quarter of an hour talking to some of the Barbican management, who told them that they felt the show was artistically valid and making a strong point against racism - while the protesters maintained it was degrading and racist.

A couple of days later, as the Barbican tried to stage the show there was again a much larger protest, and with the threats that the protests would continue, the Barbican closed the show.
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Shian Tenants protest Huge Fuel Bills

Shian Housing Association, Hackney, London. Tue 16 Sep 2014

Shian Housing Association tenant and Fuel Poverty activists sat in the foyer until a manager came to talk
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Fuel Poverty activists accompanied two tenants from Tottenham to complain about the huge fuel bills they have to pay because of an inappropriate boiler. Shian Housing Assocation has failed to take remedial action despite repeated complaints.

I talked with one of the tenants who told me that she was having bills of around £500 per quarter. The housing association had tried to blame the high bills on the way the tenants used their heating systems, but they had found that the type of boiler in use in their block had been replaced in other blocks of flats as unsuitable for the purpose, and they wanted a more efficient system too.

A woman from Shian Housing told them there was no one available to see them. She apologised that the complaints made over the past year had not been properly dealt with and offered to make and appointment for the tenants. They said they had made previous complaints and nothing had been done and refused to go away until one of the managers came to discuss the situation.

They were told that no one would come down to see them, but promised that something would get done, and that the police would be called if they did not leave. The tenants and activists discussed what to do and most decided to stay inside and make a noisy protest - and to continue outside if the police came, while others protested outside on the street, handing out flyers to people walking past. After a few minutes a manager came down to talk to them, and at this point I had to leave for another event.
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Close UK Immigration Prisons

Harmondsworth Detention Centre, London. Sat 13 Sep 2014

Protesters shout outside the detention centre
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Police stopped the protest at Harmondsworth against detention and fast-track deportation and for full legal rights for immigrants and asylum seekers from their normal march around the prison, but they held a lively protest in front of the building.

It wasn't clear why police changed their policy towards these demonstrations, but it appeared to be linked to the new management of the centre, which since 1st September is now run by Mitie, together with the adjoining Colnbrook immigration prison now forming 'Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre'. 'Care and Custody', the Mitie susbsidiary running the centre is now the "largest single private sector provider of immigration detention services to the Home Office."

Mitie was presumably awarded the contract for their stunning success in running Campsfield, which has resulted in three mass hunger strikes, a suicide and a disatrous major fire. Their track record in this and other contracts should disqualify them from running any government services, but they appear to be one of the government's favourite contractors.

The protest was larger than previous ones I've attended with almost a hundred people making the journey out to Harmondsworth on the western edge of London. It was deliberately very loud so that the detainees inside the two prisons would know that they were not forgotten, and a phone call from one of the men inside confirmed that they could hear.

When I arrived, protesters were arguing with police to be allowed to march around Harmondsworth as usual. One of the police, Sargeant Gill, took the details of one of the Movement for Justice organisers, promising to invite her to a meeting between police and Mitie to discuss if future protests may again be allowed to march on the roadway around the prison.

The protesters marched up to the traffic barrier on the road leading between the two prisons where a line of police brought them to a halt. As well as the shouting of slogans and loud drumming there were also a number of speeches, including some by those who had suffered under our immigration system and some who had been imprisoned at this and other centres.

There were calls for the ending of the 'fast track' system, deliberately set up to make it impossible for many asylum claimants to defend themselves against deportation and remove them from the country before they are able to do so. It's a shameful system that no country that believes in the proper rule of law, fair play and human decency could support.

Among the speakers was a friend of the family of Rubel Ahmed who described how he died in Morton Hall immigration detention centre in Lincolnshire on September 5th after having been refused refused medical treatment for his chest pains. Fellow prisoners heard him screaming for help, and rioted after his death, taking control of the detention centre until brutally suppressed. One who contacted the press was brutally beaten by prison guards.

As the protest went on, the shouting and dancing grew louder and louder and people began dancing in a large circle. Then things quietened down for a longer speech by one of the Movement for Justice organisers. I left as this finished, although the protest was still continuing, but seemed likely soon to draw to a close.
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Colnbrook and Heathrow

Colnbrook and Heathrow, London. Sat 13 Sept 2014

Duke of Northumberland's River close to the Colnbrook bypass (multi-image panoramic)
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I took a few pictures from the bus on my way to and from the protest at Harmondsworth, and had a short walk by the Duke of Northumberland's River which runs along the west side of the Harmondsworth detention centre. There is a path open to the public on the opposite side of the river which leads to Harmondsworth.

There is also a roadway along between the detention centre and the river, which also goes to Moor Lane in Harmondsworth, but ends just short of the lane with a locked gate preventing access. The road was I think used when the site was the Road Research Laboratory until it moved away in 1966.
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IWGB Cleaners protest at Deloittes

Shoe Lane, London. Fri 12 Sep 2014


Security prevent the cleaners from entering the offices

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IWGB Cleaners protested at several offices of Deloitte in the City of London against the loss of 13 jobs, the firing of a worker who spoke out against inhuman conditions and bullying and discrimination by managers of their contract employer Serco.

The cleaners dressed for the protest in red shirts with the IWGB logo on the chest, and on the back 'Freedom Equality Solidarity - Cleaners and Facilities Branch- IWGB.ORG.UK', and came with drums and banners. They were met by a couple of managers at the start of a protest, and a few words were exchanged but there were no promises of action to meet the cleaners' demands.

The cleaners marched in turn to four large office blocks in the area and were met at each by security who refused them admission, after which they protested noisly outside for ten minutes or so, hnading out leaflets explaining why they were protesting and calling on Deloitte CEO Barry Salsberg to ensure than cleaning contractors Serco respect their rights. Some of the security men were following them around and appeared at each office in turn.

On leaving the second office block, Alberto Durango who was leading the protesters suddenly turned around and rushed back, but although some of the security had left, there was still a man in the doorway to prevent them entering.

Outside the last of the blocks to be visited there was a little more of a rally, with one of the speaking about the dismissal of her father for standing up for his rights. After the protest the cleaners went back to Fleet St where they took off their red shirts and dispersed.
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CETA (TTIP) Trade Deal

Dept Business & Skills, London. Fri 12 Sep 2014

The #noTTIP giant hands have the message 'Corporate Hands Off'
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The UK today proposed to initial every page of the text of CETA, the Canadian version of the US/EU trade agreement (TTIP) which allows big businesses to prevent the UK government doing anything to threaten their profits and to sue protesters.

The agreement comes after top-secret negotiations between big business and the UK government and is seen as a 'back-door' way of introducing TTIP which gives big businesses unprecedented power to overrule democratic government, evade environmental regulation and impose privatisation. Like the TTIP agreement being made with the EU, it contains provisions for Investor State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) which enables companies to sue government for any actions which might cause a loss in expected profits, and for the case to be heard by an arbitration tribunal rather than go through national courts. It's a clause which could be used - for example - by medical companies to force the UK to let them privatise parts of the NHS.

The protest was called at very short notice, when details of the signing of CETA leaked out, and so the protest was a relatively small one.
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Balfron Tower

Poplar, London. Thu 11 Sep 2014

The view from Balfron Tower towards Canary Wharf
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Balfron Tower was the venue for a show of photographs about the 27 storey building, one of Erno Goldfinger's and similar to his later 31-floor Trellick Tower in North Kensington. Designed in 1963 it was completed in 1967. Like his adjacent but rather less tall Carradale House this listed building is to be refurbished and will then be too expensive for the local population. Nearby Glenkerry House, designed by Goldfinger's studio has been owned by a successful housing co-op since 1979.

It was twilight when I arrived, and darker still when I took a few pictures from the balcony. The view from the other side of the flat was also interesting, but the windows were a little too dirty. I took a few more pictures (after taking a few more glasses of wine) on my way back rather later to All Saints DLR
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Poor Door Broken, Rich Door Protest

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Wed 10 Sep 2014


Protesters pretend to be trying to get in the 'Rich Door'
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This was the seventh week of protests against separate entrances for rich and poor people in London's new housing developments by Class War outside 1 Commercial St in Aldgate.

The 'poor door' leading to the 'Houblon Appartments' was even less accessible than usual this week, with the end of the alley on the main road blocked by workmen who had dug it up for emergency sewer repairs. The door could only be reached by a detour around to the rear of the large block. On it I read a notice that the door was broken, meaning that normally it had to be left open and so the residents in these flats had no security - if they forced it closed they would find themselves locked out of the building. The notice was from 'The Concierge' at One Commercial St.

We later learnt that the door had been broken for some time, and it took several weeks for it to be repaired. While those living in the rich flats get prompt attention to any defects from staff on site, those on the poor side have to phone Network Stadium Housing Association who we were told are slow and generally unresponsive.

During the protest there was some security, as one of the men I had photographed inside the rich door had walked through inside the building and was standing there as I took the picture. On an earlier occasion I had been told there was no connection between the 'rich' and 'poor' parts of the building, but that was clearly untrue. Presumably the connecting door is normally kept locked to keep the poor out.
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People's March from Jarrow for NHS

Red Lion Square - Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 6 Sep 2014

Rehana Azam leads the march from Red Lion Square
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The final stage in the People's March for the NHS in central London attracted thousands who marched behind the group who of around 30 started their 300 mile trek to save our NHS in Jarrow on August 16th.

The march was led by Rehana Azam and the main banner carried by some of the '300 milers' who had made the whole march in support of saving the NHS from privatisation. They see the the Health and Social Care Act as having opened up almost the whole health service to privatisation, and making other measures such as TTIP able to force this to happen.

Among those who spoke at the Trafalgar Square rally were Sadiq khan MP, Andy Burnham MP, Dr Onkar Sahota and Owen Jones. The '300 milers' came up on stage to be given medals which included a pound coin - a reference to the 1930s Jarrow march for jobs. There were no jobs for the marchers, and they were each given a pound and a rail ticket back to Jarrow.
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Mourning Mothers of Iran

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 6 Sep 2014

A regular protest in the square supports the Mourning Mothers of Iran
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The Mothers of Laleh Park (formerly the Mourning Mothers of Iran) are women whose children were killed or imprisoned after the 2009 Iranian election, when the regime began a crackdown on members of the opposition. The mothers hold protests in Laleh Park in the centre of Tehran and elsewhere against the killings and calling for the release of political prisoners. Some of the mothers have been arrested for protesting and for talking to the foreign press.

A small group of protesters, mainly Iranian women, come to Trafalgar Square on the first Saturday of each month and stand in a silent vigil, displaying and handing oujt information for an hour in support of the Mothers of Laleh Park.
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Rolling Picket against Israeli violence

Downing St & Whitehall, London. Sat 6 Sep 2014

A woman has a large heart on her cheek in the colours of the Palestinian flag
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Around 30 people gathered at Downing St to walk through London and protest outside shops which support Israel, calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. They intended to end their protest outside Tony Blair's house off the Edgware Rd.

After a brief protest at Downing St, the group made its way up Whitehall. There next stop was McDonalds, and after a short protest there the group moved on to Tesco on the corner facing Trafalgar Square. Police moved them when they tried to block the doorway there. They then moved into Trafalgar Square where I had to leave them for another protest.
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Stolen Children of the UK

Parliament Square, London. Sat 6 Sep 2014

A woman campaigning against removal of children from familes by secret family courts
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Protesters allege children are taken from families by social workers and family courts and abused by paedophinle rings. They say there is systematic, systemic institutional abuse of children and parents in the UK involving a thousand children a monthtaken from their families for no good reason, with the number having been doubled since the 'Baby P' case.
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Class War 'Poor Doors' picket Week 6

Aldgate, London. Wed 3 Sep 2014
A police officer watches as people walk down the alley leading to the 'poor door' of the luxury development
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The picket against separate entrances for rich and poor people in London's new housing developments protested for the sixth week outside 1 Commercial St in Aldgate, with police taking a firmer stance against the Class War protest.

Two police officers were already waiting outside the building when I walked past a quarter of an hour before the protest was due to start and as the main group of protesters arrived from a nearby pub a couple of minutes after 6pm they came out from inside the building and talked with them, making clear that they expected the protesters not to block the doorway for people entering or leaving the building.

Several more police arrived shortly afterwards. The protest continued with the banners a yard or two in front of the door, leaving plenty of room for people to get in and out.

There were one or two heated discussions between some protesters and police, but it was generally uneventful, with protesters talking with many people walking past and handing out leaflets. Many of those who passed expressed surprise that this kind of segregation of rich and poor was allowed to happen in London and support for the protesters, and some stopped to photograph the protest on their phones.

After around 45 minutes the protesters decided they had had enough for this week and everyone left and I caught a bus.
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Isle of Dogs

Island Gardens to South Quay. Wed 3 Sep 2014

Canary Wharf across Blackwall Basin
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Another in my series of walks re-visiting locations I photographed thirty or so years ago in the 1980s. Then the Isle of Dogs was being redeveloped by the London Docks Development Corporation under a huge give-away to private developers, resulting in dramatic changes, some of which I documented over the years.

You can see some of my pictures from the 1980s in the book 'City to Blackwall' and there are probably a few in various places on the web. This walk began at Island Gardens where my previous walk ended, and went up along the riverside path to the Blackwall Entrance, across to Poplar Dock and Blackwall Basin, down Prestons Rd and Manchester Road to East Ferry Road, and then up and around a little on my way to South Quay Station.
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Isle of Dogs Panoramas

Island Gardens to South Quay. Wed 3 Sep 2014

South Quay DLR station

Mostly I had come here to make panoramic images, working with a roughly 145 degree angle of view. Usually I crop the images from the roughly 1.5:1 the system produces to a more panoramic 1.9:1 enabling me to vary the level of the horizon in the image.
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All pictures on this section of the site are Copyright © Peter Marshall 2014; to buy prints or for permission to reproduce pictures or to comment on this site, or for any other questions, contact me.

my london diary index
 

September 2014

Freedom for Alfon - Anarchists protest
Stop the Human Zoo petition to Barbican
Shian Tenants protest Huge Fuel Bills
Close UK Immigration Prisons
Colnbrook and Heathrow
IWGB Cleaners protest at Deloittes
CETA (TTIP) Trade Deal
Balfron Tower
Poor Door Broken, Rich Door Protest
People's March from Jarrow for NHS
Mourning Mothers of Iran
Rolling Picket against Israeli violence
Stolen Children of the UK
Class War 'Poor Doors' picket Week 6

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