Global Day Of Action Against State Terrorism
Wood Green Library, London 20 December, 2008
me, I'm the future
Around eighty people attended a peaceful demonstration against Police Brutality
and State Terrorism
outside Wood Green Library on Saturday, called by Greek,
Turkish, Kurdish and British activists in solidarity with the continuing popular
youth revolt in Greece
A call for world-wide solidarity actions against state terrorism had come
from those occupying the Polytechnic University in Athens, who linked their
struggle to that of others around the world, "zero tolerance and
repressive terrorism, wage slavery, poverty and social exclusion, exploitation,
oppression and social control are not constrained by borders but neither is
the struggle for freedom."
The demonstration in London also remembered the 'Massacre of 19th December'
2000, eight years ago, when Turkish troops killed 29 political prisoners and
wounded many more. The soldiers went into 20 prisons to end non-violent protests
against the transfer of political prisoners to new F-type prisons in which
prisoners are kept either in total isolation or in isolated cells housing
three prisoners. Many of the prisoners are tortured and these isolated cells
have increased the abuses. A further 122 political prisoners died in the hunger
strike protest that followed against these prisons.
A few police stood and watched the demonstration. One tried to talk to the
organisers with little success. After an hour the demonstration dispersed
Solidarity with Revolt in Greece
Dalston, London, Sun 14 Dec
Police ask a demonstrator to remove his mask - proving
a flash point for the event
It was in some way appropriate that a demonstration in support of Greek anarchists
provoked by the Athens police killing a 15 year old youth should end up with
a stand-off between demonstrators and police.
When I arrived at Dalston Kingsland around 2.30pm there were already around
50 demonstrators there, mainly those connected with Greek students and workers,
but also some anarchists with several banners. They were rather outnumbered
by police and community support workers and were simply waiting for the march
to start, causing no problems, not even obstructing the pavement or the access
to the Overground station.
Had the march been allowed to start, they and the other couple of hundred
who turned up would probably have caused little trouble, other than a relatively
small amount of disruption to traffic as they made their way along to the
peace mural. After possibly a few speeches and rather a lot of chanting and
shouting, everyone would probably have dispersed without further trouble and
we would all have been on our way home before it got dark.
What completely changed the course of events was a decision by the police
present to take action against people wearing scarves across their faces.
This is of course a part of the anarchist 'uniform', and it does frustrate
the police in their attempts to keep photographic tabs on all demonstrators
(that database again.)
Section 60(4A) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Act gives
the police powers to require the removal of face coverings that an officer
is satisfied is worn wholly or mainly to conceal identity, provided that an
officer of or above the rank of inspector has given an authorisation for such
action within a given area for a period of up to 24 hours.
Assuming that the police were following the law, the decision to take such
action was made in advance. But although such powers were available it surely
made no sense to use them before any trouble had occurred, when doing so was
almost bound to provoke it.
A small team of officers approached one of the men holding a banner and told
him to remove his scarf. A lengthy argument ensued, which ended with the man
being manhandled away. At this point there was a bit of a scuffle, and police
allege that another man punched a policeman (or possibly a CSW) and he was
dragged onto the pavement, handcuffed and searched.
Demonstrators who had remained on the pavement outside the station while
this was happening - mainly Greeks and others who had wanted to keep out of
any trouble – and a few others who had returned there were then penned
in by police (at around 2.43pm.)
A rather larger group of the anarchists had sensibly gone over to the other
side of the street before this happened, and there were soon several hundred
people watching from across the road. And things stayed more or less this
way, with a few more arrests and minor skirmishes and large police reinforcements
until I went home around 4.15pm when those not detained were noticeably thinning.
I'm told the police held those they had penned until some time after 5pm.
What would have probably have been a short and relatively peaceful event
causing short and minor disruption became a major problem, closing Dalston
Kingsland station and severely affecting traffic in north London. Several
shops nearby closed early. When I left Kingsland High Street - a "Red
Route" - was closed to northbound traffic.
As well as the frustration of a legitimate protest, the police activity resulted
in considerable inconvenience for many people not taking part, as well as
costing us a small fortune in police pay. At best it was a small display of
police macho, and I can't see there was any positive outcome from it at all.
But perhaps it is some kind of political charade organised to increase public
support for increasing surveillance and repressive legislation.
Solidarity with Whitechapel Anarchists!
Brick Lane, London, Sun 14 Dec
Distributing the WAG newsletter in Brick Lane
The full range of police units seemed to be out around Brick Lane on Sunday
- and even at least one man who works for MI6 was claimed to have been spotted
watching from a distance and making a phone call - but he may just have been
out doing his Christmas shopping.
Members of Whitechapel Anarchist Group were harassed by police while
distributing their newsletter last Sunday and had put out a call for support,
and around 20 people turned up to stand around on the rather cold street near
the bagel shops. This week the police were there again, but mainly stood back
and watched from across the road, a police officer taking pictures of all
who were there with a very long lens. Many of those walking along Brick Lane
seemed interested in the WAG newsletter and took a copy from the dozen or
so people handing them out.
The police group with the photographer moved across the road and stood on
the corner of Brick Lane. Apparently one young man, urged on by his friends,
went and stood in front of the officer taking pictures, and was hauled off
a few yards down Bethnal Green Road. I followed and took pictures keeping
out of the way as the police questioned him and several of the anarchists
questioned the police over their action while others took pictures of them
from a closer range. After a few minutes the young man was marched across
the road and taken away in a waiting police van.
The police were obviously there expecting trouble, but there wasn't anything
happening. People do find their photographic activities a harassment, and
they do provoke sometimes rather silly retaliation, but the issue of the country
becoming a surveillance society is an important one. In a recent court case
involving one of those present on Brick Lane the police admitted to compiling
and keeping a photographic database in which they could look up people and
see which demonstrations they had attended.
Of course I publish a list of my own such activities myself, though that
doesn't stop them repeatedly taking my picture, rather than simply looking
on My London Diary!
Clearly their activities around Brick Lane today were a waste of public money,
and worse than that. They don't make us any safer and were not combating any
real threat to public order. If they have an agenda it seems purely political.
Sunday Morning: Markets, Graffitti and Parkours
London, Sunday 14 December, 2008
Plenty of miseltoe at Columbia Market
A few things caught my attention as I made my roundabout way from Waterloo
to Brick Lane on Sunday morning. First, next to the roundabout at Waterloo
were a number of youths jumping athletically around the entrances to the subway;
I stopped for a couple of minutes to watch and take a few pictures before
scurring across Waterloo Bridge to the bus stop and catching a No 26 to take
me up to Bethnal Green.
There I had time for for a leisurely stroll through Columbia Market, packed
with people buying Christmas trees, decorations and flowers. Plenty of oppourtunites
for pictures, but the bulky, noisy Nikon isn't a camera I like for candid
portraits and I took only a few more distant images - like the one above.
I was still early when I got to Brick Lane, and as always my eye was drawn
to the graffitti. Somehow the people seem less interesting than in the old
days, less eccentric and dodgy characters, and,except on the very fringes,
the market seems rather more commercial in character.
My head was getting cold and I put my hand in my pocket for my wooly had,
to find it missing. A couple of stalls along I found a new one for a quid,
with a label calling it a fashion hat and a £9.99 price tag. And there
were fancy chocolates like the ones I couldn't bring myself to pay the ridiculous
prices in Waitrose going for around a quarter of the cost... A pity I couldn't
carry stuff around with me.
'Muriel Lesters' Serenade Bomb Makers
Lockheed Martin, Carlisle Place, London. Fri 12 Dec, 2008
man sprawls in memory of the many deaths caused by atomic weapons; security
men look bored.
Ten activists turned up in Victoria, London on Friday for a festive protest
outside the offices of the US company behind the production of the UK's nuclear
weapons and the huge expansion of bomb production facilities at Aldermaston
- costing £6,000,000,000 - which has never been debated or approved
They were the 'Muriel Lesters', a London affinity group of Trident
Ploughshares; dressed in Santa suits, white nuclear inspector overalls
and festive hats they called for an end to bomb production at the Atomic Weapons
Appropriately, their renditions of festive songs and carols with modified
anti-nuclear lyrics were largely less than tuneful (one taking part was hear
to say "I'm a Quaker, we don't sing" and who could contradict
him?) They called for a stop to the illegal activities of these companies
in making weapons.
First to be serenaded by the group were the offices of the US arms giant
Lockheed Martin, makers of 'bunker buster' and 'cluster' bombs, the
worlds largest exporter of weapons and the leading member of the consortium
set up to produce the nuclear warheads for the UK Trident replacement at Aldermaston.
After an hour or so of leafleting and displaying banners on Vauxhall Bridge
Road just around the corner, the group moved to the front door of the building
housing Lockheed Martin and several other companies in Carlisle Place for
their half hour carol 'concert'. It was a site I knew from the 'Merchants
of Death' tour by CAAT earlier in the year. A number of people came in
an out of the building while this was going on and some took leaflets while
others hurried past, often to waiting taxis.
Half way through the performance, a police car pulled up and dropped off
two constables who came to talk to the protesters. They asked who was in charge
(and of course nobody was) and for a mobile number they could use to contact
the group, saying "it's standard practice for protests".
Oh no it isn't! They were handed a leaflet with the Norwich details of Trident
Ploughshares, but that wasn't what they had in mind.
The police were informed that the real criminals were in the Lockheed Martin
offices, carrying out the vast expansion in UK nuclear arms, a breach of the
UK's obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,
and that they were involved in an illegal conspiracy some groups we could
name down the road in Whitehall. The police chose to ignore this vital evidence
but eventually they went away, reminding the protesters that while they supported
the right to demonstrate, it was important to keep the pavement clear.
As they left, one member of the group stretched out "dead"
on his back on that pavement as a symbol of the many victims of nuclear weapons,
including those killed in nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
"bomb test veterans, and victims of leukaemias, lymphomas and cancers
caused by exposure to radioactive discharges from AWE Aldermaston and AWE
Burghfield in Berkshire, Sellafield in Cumbria, Rolls Royce Raynesway in Derby
and other sites"
I left the group as it packed up and decided to take a short break before
going on for a similar protest at the London offices of Jacobs Engineering
and Fluor Corporation, two other US companies who are competing
for the stake in the AWE bomb-making contract currently filled by the British
Nuclear Group. The third player in the contract – the only remaining
UK involvement - is SERCO.
(Muriel Lester, (1883–1968), born in Leytonstone, was a leading
Christian peace campaigner and writer. Among many other things she founded
Kingsley Hall in Bow, was a friend of Ghandi, Traveling Secretary of
the International Fellowship of Reconciliation and was detained for
ten weeks in Trinidad and then several days in Holloway Prison for her activities
during the Second World War.)
National Climate March
London, Saturday December 6th 2008
Climate marchers reach Parliament Square
America got an easy ride in this year's National Climate Change
march despite it starting in Grosvenor Square, as hopes are still high that
Obama - unlike Bush - will respond to the climate crisis. So there was no
Uncle Sam or Statue of Taking Liberties that we've seen in previous
years among this years villains on parade. Its a hope likely to be dashed
as US oil will almost certainly continue its dominance of the country whatever
puppet is in the white house.
The largest puppets in this year's march were the Four Horsemen of the
Apocalypse, challenging the Campaign against Climate Change
logo globe in a greenhouse in the unphotographability stakes. Fortunuately
there was no shortage of other interest, with posters reflecting the four
major themes - no coal-fired power stations, no airport expansion,
no agrofuels and a big yes to a renewable energy revolution and
green jobs. But perhaps the biggest banner was that proclaiming 'Capitalism
Isn't Working' surrounded by a group of anarchists.
Other groups on the march included vegans, reminding us of the great environmental
advantages of eating vegetables rather than meat, and the Heathrow 'No
Third Runway' campaigners along with a bewildering assortment of other
environmental groups. Around 3-4,000 took part in the march, perhaps slightly
more than last year, but there had seemed to be rather less publicity this
The rally in Parliament Square was a little disappointing, with two main
speakers having to cancel at the last minute. But there were still some good
speeches, particularly (as usual) from London's Green MEP Caroline Lucas,
and Nick Clegg appeared for the Lib Dems. Music was provided by Seize
the Day, and again I suspect it was another nod to Obama that - at least
while I was there we didn't get their Club X-ray.
Climate Change Cyclists
Holborn, London. Saturday 6 December, 2008
Cyclists demonstrate for a green future
Steam at Staines
Staines, Middx. Wednesday 3 Dec, 2008
A steam special goes over the River Thames at Staines
Usually I just hear the whistle and the sound of the steam pushing the pistons
from my house a few hundred yards away from the track as a steam hauled train
calls in at Staines to pick up passengers for an expensive day out on the
railway. But this time the local paper had given the time that the train was
to arrive, so I decided to go and take a few pictures.
I'm not sure whether the paper had simply got it wrong (like it does most
things) or the times had been changed, but when I arrived at Staines station
there were a dozen or so people waiting to see it but no train - and station
staff were able to tell us it would come a bit over an hour later. So I went
away and did a bit of shopping before coming back - and more or less dead
on time a plume of smoke appeared around the bend.
The engine was the preserved ex-LNER streamliner, Sir Nigel Gresley,
and it stopped for some minutes at Staines station, while several hundred
people boarded and around 50 had now gathered to watch. Unfortunately our
vision was a little restricted by a more modern train on the other platform,
leaving for London.
The engine seemed noisier than I remember, and the platform was wreathed
in steam and smoke - I think driver and fireman were putting on a little of
an act for the crowd. Having taken a few pictures - along with lots of railway
photographers - at the station I got on my bike and rode down to the towpath,
in plenty of time to watch the train go across at some speed.
More about trains and Staines on >Re:PHOTO
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