Sainsbury's told Stop Selling Illegal Goods

Whitechapel High St and Sainsbury's, London. Sat 27 Sep 2014

Protesters with banners in the entrance to Sainsbury's urge them to end selling illegal Israel goods.

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Campaigners protested on Whitechapel High St and then inside Sainsbury's, calling on them to stop selling dates and other goods from illegal Israeli settlements, in defiance of international law. They left the store when asked by a police officer.

The protest by Tower Hamlets & Jenin Friendship Association was part of the international BDS campaign calling for a Boycott of Israeli goods, divestment from Israeli firms and sanctions against Israel until it ends the persecution of Palestinians and comes into line with international law and UN resolutions.

The campaign against Sainsbury's follow on from one against the Co-operative, who stated last year that they would ‘no longer engage with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements’.

It is a campaign that has been given new impetus this year following the disproportionate use of force against the people of Gaza. During the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, roughly 1500 of them civilians, among them over 500 children. 66 Israeli soldiers died, along with 5 Israeli civilians (including one child.) Over 500,000 people - roughly 30% of the population of the Gaza strip were displaced from their homes, and over 17,000 homes made uninhabitable, with over twice that number suffering less severe damage.

Attacks also destroyed much of Gaza's industry, including factories making biscuits and ice cream factory, plastics, sponges, cardboard boxes, plastic bags as well as the main electricity plant. Two sewage pumping stations were damaged, as were the main offices of the largest diary product importer and distributor.

One of the stated aims of the attacks was the destruction of tunnels, and some of these from Gaza to Israel and to Egypt were destroyed. But those between Gaza and Egypt essentially exist because of the Israeli siege of Gaza which prevents essential goods being brought into Gaza by normal means, although they are also used for military supplies.

Outside the library on Whitechapel High St there were several tables, including one selling Palestinian olive oil, almonds and a range of decorated purses etc, as well as a number of people handing out leaflets and a postcard 'Sainsbury's: Taste the Indifference', or holding banners and collecting signatures for a petition against the bombing of Iraq. At intervals there were short speeches about the Palestinian situation and the campaign to get Sainsbury's to stop selling illegal Israeli goods.

After an hour or so on the busy street, the protesters had run out of some of their leaflets and decided it was time to visit Sainsbury's, just a couple of hundred yards away down a side-street. They folded up their banners and walked down towards the store, though as one man was carrying a Palestinian flag on a short pole they were fairly conspicuous. Sainsbury's were ready and waiting for them, with extra security on duty, and stopped them as they tried to enter the actual store from the very spacious lobby area.

There they opened up their banners and protested for a little over 10 minutes. There were a few moments of some tension, when store employees or security tried to grab one of the banners, but he handed the end he was holding back politely after they had moved to be out of the way of customers entering and leaving, and the whole protest and Sainsbury's response was pretty civilised. After 12 minutes, a man in casual dress arrived, and after asking the store manager to request the protesters to leave came across and talked the the protesters, showing them his warrant card and apologising that the police station didn't have anyone in uniform available to send at the moment. Having made their point by the protest, they decided to go quietly and a little exultantly back to the High Street, where others had been continuing the protest there. (I had briefly wondered whether if the protesters had declined to go he would have asked them to arrest themselves and take themselves to the station.)

I left shortly after this, with the protest still continuing. It seemed to be getting a very positive reaction from the people on the street in Tower Hamlets. The Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association also aims to get Tower Hamlets council to officially twin with Jenin, a city of around 40,000 people in the north of the Palestinian West Bank. Another roughly 11,000 Palestinians live in the Jenin Refugee Camp, established in 1953 when Jenin was in Jordan to house Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
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By the Royal London

Whitechapel, London. Sat 27 Sep 2014

A panoramic image of the new Royal London Hospital
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I'd gone just a little early to Whitechapel to have time to make the picture of the Royal London Hospital, or rather to take it again, as I wasn't entirely happy with the first version I made around two years ago. I'm still not sure I have it exactly how I want it, but I think it is better. I made several attempts, but only a couple of them worked, and this is I think the better of the two.

My problem is really with the height of the building and the fact that I need to be really close to it. This is why the aspect ratio of the image above is around 1.29:1. It started out even closer to square but I cropped off a little of the pavement as there was just too much of it. Before cropping the vertical angle of view was also around 148 degrees. Most of the panoramas I now make are single exposures, but this is stitched from three.

The Royal London's problem is financial. Although the Royal London Hospital was old and needed replacement, the PFI scheme under which the new building was financed makes impossible demands on the local health service; the trust cannot even afford to open all of the new building, and has cut or is threatening to cut various essential aspects of its service to East London. Changes in the financial services (and bad contracts) have changed PFI contracts from poor value to disastrous and the government needs to take action to redress the situation here and elsewhere.

Having taken this I took a walk down the street that passes under the canopy here and a little around the area on the other side before going back to Whitechapel High St where a protest was taking place.
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Hewlett Packard Stop Supporting Israeli Military

Wood St, City, London.Fri 26 Sep 2014
Protesters with banners opposite HP's offices on Wood St

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After G4S decided to pull out of Israeli prisons after 2 years of pickets at their London HQ, the campaign today moved to picket at Hewlett-Packard which boasts of 'a massive presence' in Israel and are the IT backbone for the Israeli war machine.
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City Walk, High Walk

City of London. Fri 26 Sep 2014
Basinghall St and the fenced off Bassetlaw Highwalk
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I arrived in the City with some time to spare and decided to take a few pictures on a short walk. Back in the early 1990s I had revisited the area around the Guildhall and the 'highwalks' that were a part of the plan for the rebuilding of the city after the Second World War bombing. It had been an ambitious plan, separating pedestrian movement from traffic on high level walkways, and was only implemented in the area around London Wall and the Barbican.

I'd photographed this area using a Widelux panoramic swing-lens camera which gave a horizontal angle of view of around 120 degrees, and had shown several of the images that resulted, and several had been published in various places - one appearing on an annual report cover of the Museum of London which is at the western fringe of these walkways. Today I was working with a slightly larger horizontal view and almost twice the vertical angle, giving panoramic images in a normal 1.5:1 aspect ratio. The images have a similar projection to that of the swing lens camera with straight verticals but curvature of other lines.

Now much of the highwalks south of London Wall and a large area directly to the north are being demolished, apparently to allow a higher density of commercial development in the area. I took some pictures from some of the parts that remain as well as others at ground level in the area.
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Don't bomb Iraq

Westminster, London. Fri 26 Sep 2014


Police stop a protester from joining others on College Green
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There were protests in College Green where TV crews interview politicians with a huge banner across one end and people with with placards, but police refused access to one man who TV crews had complained had been shouting. College Green, for long always open to the public and housing a well-known Henry Moore statue now has new notices stating it is a part of the Parliamentary estate, and they reserve the right to close the area to the public at any time. Until recently it was listed as a public park on the Westminster Council site.

There was also a small group of protesters with drums on the pavement at the front of Parliament Square.
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CETA Trade Deal Threat to Democracy

Dept Business, Innovation & Skills, London. Fri 26 Sep 2014
Europe House, London. Fri 26 Sep 2014
Protesters pose in front of Big Ben on their way from the BIS to Europe House
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On the day the EU and Canada initialed the CETA treaty, campaigners demanded a halt, claiming it hands over unchallengeable powers to big business to override governments and democracy, putting company profits above all other interests.

The protest, backed by groups including War on Want, the World Development Movement and Occupy London was organised at very short notice. The negotiations over CETA (Canada and European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) as with its wider equivalent TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) have been carried out in secret, with great care being taken to avoid any leaks and the documents are to be withheld for 30 years. Two weeks ago a protest delivered a letter to the ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills including Vince Cable, calling for the finalising of CETA to be delayed and asking for his responses to their concerns; this has been completely ignored - not even acknowledged.

These treaties, particularly through the provision of a process known as ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) will greatly affect the ability of governments to make legislation, and already are doing so. Last year's decision by the UK government to drop proposals for plain packaging for cigarettes was a result of "considerable legal uncertainty", or rather the threat by tobacco companies to sue the government because it would effective in cutting cigarette sales - and thus the companies' profits. Under ISDS, the legal action would bypass UK courts and be decided by international arbitration tribunals where the loss of potential profits would be paramount above any public interest.

There are currently around 500 documented cases of big companies attempting to use ISDS powers to challenge democratic decisions around the world, including A Swedish company suing Germany for phasing out nuclear power and a French company suing Egypt because they have increased the minimum wage and introduced other measures to improve the conditions of workers. Treaties like CETA and TTIP aim to remove these disputes from national legal systems which may offer some protection. ISDS will allow big business to challenge food safety regulation, green legislation and other vital measures, and curb protests against fracking and dirty energy, GMO, the arms trade and any other profitable corporate activities.

The Labour Party's promise if they are elected to repeal the legislation that has opened up the NHS to privatisation would also fall foul of ISDS, with health companies able to use ISDS to protect their right to make profits or exact massive compensation. The refusal of our government to exempt the NHS from the trade negotiations is widely thought to have been influenced by the wide commercial interests of members of the government in the health industry.

In the EU, people have begun to realise the dangers to the democratic system posed by ISDS and the EU in January began a public consultation on these provisions in TTIP. The rush to get CETA, which includes ISDS, appears to be a a way to introduce it by the back door.

Today's protest began outside the Dept of Business, Industry and Skills, where the campaigners handed out leaflets before marching to the London base of the European Parliament, Europe House in Smith Square for a rally, stopping briefly on the way in Parliament Square.

As they marched, carry placards against CETA and TTIP, the protesters handed out more leaflets in the busy tourist area about the 'corporate power grab' and the #noTTIP day of action in London on 11th October, as well as chanting slogans, including 'C-E-T-A, Corporate Coup No Way!' and 'T-T-I-P, Hands off our democracy'.

Speakers at the rally included organiser Tim Flitcroft, John Hillary of War on Want and London Region Green MEP Jean Lambert, who has worked hard in the European parliament to raise the issues involved. As Hillary said, these treaties are "not just a trade deal, but about the kind of future we want." TTIP and CETA mean a future run by large multinational corporations concerned only with maximising their profits, while what the world needs is to put the needs of people and sustainable living on the planet first.
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Class War Occupy Rich Door

One Commercial St,Aldgate London. Wed 24 Sep 2014

Ian Bone holds up the megaphone and people hold two Class War banners inside the 'rich door'
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Class War's Ian Bone was arrested as he tried to leave the 9th weekly protest at One Commercial St against separate entrances for rich and poor tenants, accused of deliberately breaking a vase of flowers during the occupation of the reception area.

I arrived just as the protest was starting with the usual banners outside the 'rich door' of the building on Whitechapel High St. One of Class War's parliamentary candidates was photographing the notices by the side of the door as the building manager opened it to let out two residents, and talked to him as another Class War protester put his foot in the door to keep it open. The manager walked back into the building towards the reception desk, and, seeing their chance, a group of protesters followed him, taking in their banners and occupying the area.

Inside the building, the protesters were generally well behaved, standing and holding their two banners, while several of them made use of the megaphone to talk about the situation and the reason for the protest. A number of residents - who seemed mostly to be tourists, doubtless renting from the overseas investors who have bought many of the flats - walked through the lobby during the protest unimpeded. But a some point there was a loud crash, as a vase of flowers fell from the desk onto the floor, making everyone jump; it wasn't clear to me whether this damage was deliberate or simply carelessness.

It took 13 minutes for the first police to arrive, talking briefly with the protesters before going through the lobby and talking with the building staff, and it was another ten minutes before the protesters left, although by this time more police had arrived and had prevented anyone walking into the lobby. The protest then continued as usual on the pavement outside, now watched by around 15 police.

There were a few minor incidents during the rest of the protest. One officer accused a protester who was using his phone to photograph one of two Class War stickers on a police car of having put them on it - I had photographed them several minutes earlier. Another brief flare-up came when another officer accused a protester of putting a Class War sticker on his back - but there was no sticker there - but someone else had put a sticker on an officer's back. Another curious incident occurred when a man passing by stopped to ask some of the protesters a question and got very upset by their response, shouting for around ten minutes that he was only trying to ask as question. People kept asking him what his question was, and even offered him the use of the megaphone to ask it, but we never got to find out as he was too busy complaining about how he had been treated to ask it.

Several more police vans arrived as the protesters were starting to leave, and an officer stopped Ian Bone from going, standing in his way. After some arguments between protesters and a small crowd of police and a legal observer, the officer said they wanted to question him about the breaking of the vase from the reception desk, saying that CCTV showed he was responsible. He was then arrested and taken to the rear of a waiting van, where he was searched and handcuffed before being put in and driven away, presumably to Whitechapel police station.
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Gambia anti-Gay Bill

Gambian Embassy, Notting Hill. London. Wed 24 Sep 2014

Protesters call on the Gambian president not to approve life sentences for homosexual acts
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Protesters at the Gambian Embassy called on President Yahya Jammeh to reject the bill passed by MPs on August 25 which would give life sentences for 'aggravated homosexuality, apparently including repeat offenders, and those with HIV.

The protest at the embassy in Notting Hill was attended by around 40 people from the Metropolitan Community Church, the Out & Proud Diamond Group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation, with Peter Tatchell himself taking part. There was a great deal of loud drumming, shouting and dancing on the road and pavement in front of the protest.

LGBTi people are already exposed to draconian punishments under anti-gay legislation in Gambia, where homosexuality is illegal and can already be punished by 14 years in jail.
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Druids on Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill, London. Tue 23 Sep 2014

A view from on high of the Druid Order as they celebrate the Equinox
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The Druid Order celebrated the Autumn Equinox (Alban Elued) with a ceremony on top of Primrose Hill in London at 1pm (noon GMT) in their traditional robes. They have been organising similar celebrations for over a 100 years.

I arrived an hour or so before the procession and walked up to the top of the hill with a small group in their normal clothes who marked out the key points - including the North, South, east and West of the circle and the portal through which the circle would be entered and left with the help of an iPhone compass app and talcum powder, and practised the final act of a blessing of peace to the four corners (points of the compass) before going back down the hill to watch the robing and other preparations for the event. Everything seemed to be very carefully organised, with boxes of robes in study plastic packets with printed directions for folding them and cleaning them and careful lists of the other requirements.

The two banners, which I think are approaching a hundred years old, come carefully packed in a purpose-made box, with the metal rings and poles brought separately and they were carefully handled and put together for the event.

At around ten minutes before noon GMT (1pm BST) the sword bearer took up position, and slowly the rest of the druids formed a line behind him, with the lady and her attendants towards the rear and the Chief Druid and other important druids and the banner carriers at the back. There was a brief talk reminding the Druids of the nature of the occasion and of meditation before the long line set off up the hill, an impressive sight of around 25 pure white clad figures behind the sword-bearer (who has a red and gold sash as well as the sword) with a dozen or so with a little added colour behind them.

After processing up the hill they formed a circle on its summit in the space marked out earlier, and a long trumpet call was sounded to the four corners of the world. The sword carrier brought Pendragon's sword to the Chief Druid who moved to the centre of the circle and held was it aloft to the four directions in turn, pulling it loose with the call "Is it Peace?" and on receiving the reply "Peace", pushing it back into its scabbard.

The Lady, representing the Earth Goddess Ceridwen then requested permission to enter the circle with her two attendants, and it was granted. They brought a horn containing cider and a basket of fruit and flowers, the harvest of the earth to the chief druid. The cider was tasted by the Chief Druid, the Lady and then carried around the circle with libations being poured onto the earth at intervals. The basket of fruit and flowers and this too was emptied out as he walked around in the circle. The autumn ceremony is very much a harvest festival.

The names of companions of the ancient order no longer with us were read out, including that of the artist William Blake and other well-known historical figures. We all observed a minute or two of silence and their was a fairly long address, a message of peace and human understanding. The Druid Order are peace loving and free-thinking and their main aim appears to be to develop themselves through being rather than through intellectual learning. Near to the close of the event, the druids joined hands around the circle and renewed their druid vows. In a final act of the ceremony, four druids came to the centre of the circle and raised the hands in turn to proclaim peace.

Everyone present was thanked for coming and an invitation issued to those who want to find out more about the order to attend their regular public meetings. The druids then left the circle in order through a gate made by two of their number and processed away down the hill, again forming a circle briefly before beginning to disrobe.

The site on top of Primrose Hill has an extensive view of the whole of central London and has been a site of religious significance for several thousand years. The Druid Order was formed, along with a mythic history linking it back to earlier times, around a hundred years ago by the remarkable George Watson MacGregor Reid, who was also a trade union and Labour party activist and had a great interest in oriental mysticism.

The 'history' links it back to a call by John Toland on Primrose Hill at the Autumn Equinox of 1716 for a meeting of Druids at the Apple Tree Tavern in Covent Garden a year and a day later. According to the Fifth Mount Haemus lecture by Dr Adam Stout in 2005, their first recorded appearance appears to have been at the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge in 1912, although Macgregor Reid may have been there in 1909. A photograph from 1912 shows him striding through the stones in Indian dress leasing his "Universalists." The following year he was back, describing himself as a High Priest and "the direct successor of the Chief Druids who have been", and dressed in a very similar manner to that still adopted by The Druid Order.

Primrose Hill occupies an important place in the history of the re-invention of a Druidic tradition. As well as the call said to have been made by Toland in 1716, it was here on Midsummer's day 1792 that Iolo Morganwg (1747-1826) held the first meeting of the Gorsedd of the Bards of the Isle of Britain, the precursor of the modern Eisteddfod. Morganwg added his druidic inventions to his translations of ancient Welsh manuscripts, inventing much of Druidic myth and symbols such as the the 'Awen' symbol with its three 'rays' which is worn by the leading druids of the Druid Order.

As I walked back across the top of the hill after the Druid Order had disrobed, there was another circle at the top of the hill, and a white robed 'druid' was telling what appeared to be a large group of students and tourists about the druids and their celebrations. I took a few photographs of them as well.
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Focus E15 Open House Day

Carpenters Estate, Stratford, London. Sun 21 Sep 2014
Sam and Jasmine with a pot plant at the window of the property they have just occupied
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Focus E15 Mums celebrated the first anniversary of their fight against LB Newham's failure to provide local housing for local people and opened and occupied one of many shamefully long empty council properties on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford.

The event was billed as a party to celebrate a year of Focus E15 Mothers fighting to stay in London after Newham council cut off the funding for the hostel in which they were housed and East Thames Housing who ran it issued them with eviction notices. Newham told them they could only be rehoused in Birmingham or Hastings or anywhere except where they wanted to be in London, close to families, jobs and support services. Their personal fight has turned into a wider campaign for housing for all, for social housing in London and an end to the displacement of low income households from the capital, with the slogan 'Social Housing not Social Cleansing'.

The Carpenters Estate provides a particularly clear example of a local council engaging in this kind of social cleansing. For over ten years Newham have been trying to clear everyone from this popular and well-placed estate and redevelop it as part of their overall scheme to take Newham more upmarket. It is in the process of being surrounded by tall new blocks, mostly private developments of expensive flats. But those who have bought into property on the estate have proved very reluctant to move, and a scheme to sell the area off to University College London fell through, perhaps largely because of their resistance and the protests by students and staff at UCL when they learnt exactly what Newham and UCL were up to.

I've walked through the estate from time to time over the last thirty years, mainly on my way from Stratford Station to Stratford Marsh (which in the last ten became the Olympic site, but before was one of inner London's more interesting semi-wild areas.) Over those last ten years I'd seen property after property boarded up (these days with anti-squatting metal shutters) as more and more people were displaced, often to estates on the outer margins and seldom willingly.

Officially it is called 'decanting' which sounds rather better on the middle class dinner table, but it means forcing people to move out, often with false promises and inadequate compensation. It's the kind of thing you read about in slum clearance in the nineteenth century and smugly think 'but it couldn't happen now', but it is, and Labour councils such as Newham (they hold all 60 seats) and Southwark who are among the worst offenders. Councils lie and cheat and employ PR companies to lie and cheat for them and collude with developers. And ordinary Londoners find they are no longer able to live in London.

The square at the centre of the Carpenters Estate is surrounded by good quality housing, a model post-war council estate. But most of the properties around have been boarded up for years, empty while thousands wait on the council's housing list.

Focus E15 drew attention to this in June when they pasted large photographs of themselves on the front of one of the buildings, and I photographed them - see more on Focus E15 Mums Expose Carpenters Estate.

I wasn't entirely surprised when after a couple of hours of partying on the square, the samba band were asked to perform in front of the shops on the opposite side of the square. Their massive sound as well as entertaining us also masked the noise and took attention away from the removing of some of those metal shutters from that same block, and we turned around to see some of the E15 mums and supporters waving at us from a first floor window.

It was Open House Day in London and courtesy of the Focus E15 Mums, 80-86 Dorian Walk was now one of the houses open to the public, even if not on the official lists, and we formed an orderly queue in best Open House tradition to go in and look at the four flats. When after a short wait we were welcomed inside it was amazing to see what good condition they flats were in - fitted kitchens and bathrooms still in good working order - with running water, wallpaper and carpets almost pristine, and the odd piece of abandoned furniture. In one of kitchens, the calendar from 2004 was still on the wall, a reminder that while Londoners are desperate for housing, Newham council has kept this and other perfectly habitable properties empty for ten years.
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Peoples Climate March

Embankment, London. Sun 21 Sep 2014

A woman carrying a 'Divest from Disaster' poster walks alongside a 'carbon bubble' on the march
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The march was a part of over 2,000 events world-wide ahead of the New York Climate summit, many in London demanded divestment in fossil fuels and an end to the domination of politics by the fossil fuel industry which has blocked action against climate change.

I wasn't entirely happy about the London march, which seemed to have been rather taken over by various slick and rather corporate organisations rather than being a 'people's march' and seemed to lack any real focus. What exactly were people marching for? And what action would most of them be taking later in the week, or the year - or were many just marching to alleviate their own worries?

There was one block - the '‘Fossil Free Block' that I felt was worth supporting, and what the whole march should have been about. We have to stop burning oil, coal, gas. We are certainly on our way to disastrous climate change if we fail to severely cut carbon emissions, and probably need to actually reverse some of the rise that has already occurred. Drastic action really is needed.

And fortunately it is possible. We could get all the energy we need from true renewable sources, and are reaching the point where it will be cheaper to do so. But carbon emissions are not the only reason to stop using oil for fuel - oil is a declining resource which has many other uses and which we depend on in many other ways - and the world can't afford to waste it on driving and heating.

One symptom of what was wrong with the march was its focus on celebrities. In a press scrum at the front of the march I photographed Vivienne Westwood, Emma Thompson, Peter Gabriel and possibly others I didn't recognise

Westwood is of course well-known as an environmental campaigner, with here own 'Climate Revolution', some of whom I saw later towards the back of the protest. Perhaps it was a pity that she wasn't there with them.

I actually photographed the celebs more or less by accident and hadn't gone to do so. I didn't recognise them, and it was only when I'd started taking photographs and found myself hemmed in on all sides by other photographers that I realised and asked a friend who they were. Vivienne Westwood, who I've photographed several times before only came along later. But I'd decided I would photograph the start of the march - and had to do so in the media scrum.

After the first fifty yards or so I extracted myself and then worked with through the protest as it came past, after a while moving slowly backwards towards Temple station and the back of the march, reaching both in time to take the train to a party in Stratford.
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EDL London March & Rally

Downing St & Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 20 Sep 2014
An EDL supporter raises his hand for a photograph being taken on his phone. A Nazi salute?
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The EDL protested at Downing St against government inaction on child sexual exploitation, immigration, returning jihadis, FGM, Halal food, Imams, Islamic Schools, Shariah courts, the burkha etc. There was a UAF counter protest a short distance away.

Members of the English Defence League had arrived early and set up on Richmond Terrace opposite Downing St, while Unite Against Fascism were in a second pen a short distance further down Whitehall. There were many barriers and almost certainly more police than the several hundred EDL who eventually arrived and the roughly half as many UAF supporters put together.

At around 1pm, more EDL supporters began to gather around the Charles II statue at the south end of Trafalgar Square, many carrying flags and banners and wearing various EDL jackets and shirts. The atmosphere here was rather friendlier than at some previous EDL protests, and the press were able to walk freely among the gathering crowd, many of whom posed for photographs. There were a few reminders of the old EDL, with at one point a chant of "Allah, Allah, who the f*** is Allah", and while earlier the EDL stewards had asked protesters to put away cans of beer there were many openly drinking. A few people did point and shout at me as being a photographer for 'Searchlight', although I've never had any connection and don't really look much if at all like the photographer they mistake me for, but I was able to correct a few of them and we had a polite conversation.

The marchers hung around there for longer than expected, apparently waiting for people on a couple of coaches that had been stopped outside London by police, but eventually set off down Whitehall. There was a minor incident when they were met by a group of 3 anti-fascists, but police pushed them away and EDL stewards rather efficiently held back the marchers.

The rally then started, and I stopped to listen to several of the speakers, including John Banks and former UKIP Parliamentary candidate for Cities of London and Westminster Paul Weston who, after serving as chairman of the British Freedom Party (BFP) in 2011-2, founded Liberty GB in 2013 and stood for them in the 2014 Euro Elections.

During the speeches, the EDL showed its ambivalent attitude towards the press, with some of the stewards and others's trying to stop photographers taking pictures by moving banners in front of them, holding hands in front of lenses and calling the police for assistance. The police told them quite correctly that photographers had the right to take photographs on the street. The English Defence League media division had earlier in the week sent out a very lengthy Press Statement about the event to National Newspapers, TV, Online and Radio and London media news desks so it seems odd that some should try and restrict coverage of the event.

The speeches dealt with the government failure to take effective action over a wide range of issues, of which which the press statement lists ten:

1. Child sexual exploitation throughout this country
2. Uncontrolled mass immigration
3. Returning jihadis and jihadis in training
4. Female genital mutilation (FGM)
5. Halal food
6. Are British imams fit for purpose?
7. Islamic schools and the Trojan Horse strategy
8. Shariah courts
9. The burka
10. Creeping shariah

They say:

"Our demands on some of the above issues – halal, the burka, shariah courts – may appear to be over-reactions to harmless cultural differences. The EDL takes the opposite position." #

In their opinion this Muslim influence

"is transforming Britain into a less cohesive, more tense, less free, less comfortable and less trusting society."

but they are wrong in every respect. It is groups like the EDL and their actions that have these effects, and that demonstrate it in events such as this.

Clearly from the speeches this was largely an Islamophobic protest, and their outlook is not one I share, although like all of the protesters against the EDL a short distance down the road I am against child sexual exploitation and FGM, and would also be against the replacement of English by Sharia law were this being imposed on us. But I found it very depressing to listen to the kind of hate speak that I heard from the speakers. Their vision is certainly not of a country I would want to live in.

Down the road, the UAF protest kept up a high volume of chanting, though rather overpowered by the public address system brought by the EDL. But the whole feeling there was more positive than with the EDL, who have some peculiar ideas about the UAF (and about photographers), including comments about their being dirty and unwashed, as well as that they are all pedophiles and communists. Being communists may be true of some (and they would be proud of it) but on balance they seemed rather cleaner and better dressed than the EDL. And I certainly feel much safer and am far less threatened photographing them.
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Music at Class War Poor Doors

Aldgate, London. Wed 17 Sep 2014

Different Moods, a Reggae band from Tottenham played outside the rich door
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A group of musicians added a powerful beat to the 8th picket outside the 'rich door' of One Commercial St, while one of the social housing residents spoke, confirming that the 'poor door' has now been broken for 3 weeks leaving their entrance insecure.

The group, Different Moods, a Reggae band from Tottenham, came with a specially written 'Poor Doors' song which seems likely to be adopted as the anthem for these protests.
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Sea of Poppies

Tower of London. Wed 17 Sep 2014

Poppies in the moat of the Tower of London
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Intended as a work of art remembering the 'Great War', the ceramic poppies, one for each of the British forces killed in the war seems decorative but shallow. The poppies surround the Tower on three sides, only two of which are visible in this panoramic image. To me it lacks any real sense of the numbers involved and is far less graphic than the war cemeteries with their seemingly endless rows of crosses.

Of course the photograph - any of the photographs taken of it - impress less than the actual scene, and reduce the scale, though perhaps the idea of blood pouring out of the window and spreading across the grass works rather better in these images than I felt it did standing there and contemplating the scene. There I felt the semi-circular fencing and wall at lower right added a touch of reality - and perhaps made me think more about fortifications and trenches than the poppies.
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Vintage Cinelli in poor state

Staines, Middx. Wed 17 Sep 2014

A 1956 or 7 Cinelli frame, but now in a very poor state
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A wreck of a bicycle, but it was once my pride and joy, and still attracts attention from the cognoscenti, or at least did until I stopped riding it a couple of years ago when it got difficult to keep it on the road. You just can't get some of the vital parts easily now.

My eldest brother Jim bought me it second-hand for my 13th birthday. Then it had thinner wheels with tubular tires, alloy cranks, the very best front and read derailleurs and a proper racing saddle. It didn't have the rack or the mudguards and the paint was a pale green and virtually undamaged. It was around a year or 18 months old, having been raced around the UK and on the continent by its previous owner.

Back when it was made, in the mid 1950's, Cinelli was the best of the Italian frame makers, and frames from that era are now sometimes sold for silly money, apparently particularly to Japanese enthusiasts, who restore - or have them restored - to their original condition at great expense. This one may be a little past that - it would certainly be a challenge.

If the chainwheel looks just a little odd in the image, that's because it is oval rather than the normal round. Around 15 years ago I needed a new chainwheel, and had to have one individually machined to fit, computer-controlled from a tracing I made showing the original fixing. And I decided to try out an elliptical chainwheel, which did seem to cut my journey times by a noticeable amount.

The company that made that one is no longer making custom chainrings - and the bike needed a replacement. Instead I've taken to riding a slightly less ancient Holdsworth. Can't make up my mind what to do with the Cinelli though.
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Freedom for Alfon - Anarchists protest

Spanish embassy, Belgrave Square, London. Tue 16 Sep 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 Bailey, 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 Association 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 subsidiary 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 disastrous 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 noisily outside for ten minutes or so, handing 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 out 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 families by secret family courts
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Protesters allege children are taken from families by social workers and family courts and abused by pedophile rings. They say there is systematic, systemic institutional abuse of children and parents in the UK involving a thousand children a month taken 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

Sainsbury's told Stop Selling Illegal Goods
By the Royal London
HP told Stop Supporting Israeli Military
City Wall, High Walk
Don't bomb Iraq
CETA Trade Deal Threat to Democracy
Class War Occupy Rich Door
Gambia anti-Gay Bill
Druids on Primrose Hill
Focus E15 Open House Day
Peoples Climate March
EDL London March & Rally
Music at Class War Poor Doors
Sea of Poppies
Vintage Cinelli in poor state
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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High res images available for reproduction - for licences to reproduce images or buy prints or other questions and comments, contact me. Selected images are also available from Alamy and Photofusion

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