UVW Hamlet-themed Barbican Flash-mob
Barbican Centre, London. Sat 31 oct 2015
UVW General Secretary Petross Elia speaks outside the Barbican after the Hamlet-themed
Cleaners union United Voices of the World staged a Hamlet-themed flash-mob
protest in the Barbican Centre on the last night of the play's season there,
calling for full payment of the living wage, sick pay and an end to workfare
in the centre.
I arrived at the Barbican Centre around half an hour before the protest and
security were obviously worried that something might happen. There were two
police officers looking around but they left well before the main group of
protesters arrived, around 20 minutes after the time that had been shared
by text message. I'd recognised a few of the protesters who were attempting
to hang around inconspicuously inside the centre, and met Green Party leader
Natalie Bennett as she arrived.
Finally the UVW General Secretary Petross Elia and other protesters turned
up, running into the centre with banners and placards, as well as a skull
with the message 'Alas Poor Yorick got no sick pay'. One poster read 'To Be
or Not to Be... Paid a Living Wage' and another 'To Be or Not to Be... Paid
Sick Pay' and a poster asked people to tweet about the protest with the hashtag
Among the protesters was Sandy Nicoll, currently suspended SOAS Branch Secretary,
and there were banners 'Boycott Workfare' and from 'Unite the Resistance'
as well as the UVW's own. Several from Class War had also come to support
Security made a half-hearted attempt to move people on, but the protest continued,
with speeches from Petross Elia and Natalie Bennett and some loud chanting.
Eventually a couple of police officers arrived and talked to Petross who told
them that the protesters would leave and continue the protest in front of
the main entrance as had been widely advertised.
Halloween Skate 2015 London
Hyde Park Corner, London . Sat 31 Oct 2015
A skater with 5 eyes waiting for London Friday Night
Skate's special Saturday Halloween Skate 2015
London Friday Night Skate gathered at Hyde Park on Saturday for their annual
Halloween skate in varied Halloween costumes before leaving to skate on a
lengthy route through Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden to an after-party at a
pub near Kings Cross.
UFFC Annual Remembrance Procession 2015
Whitehall, London. Sat 31 Oct 2015
Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson speaks about
the lack of justice for those murdered by police and the killing of his nephew
Oscar Grant in Los Angeles.
Families and friends of people killed by police or in prisons made their
annual march at a funereal pace from Trafalgar Square to Downing St, to a
rally with speakers including those from the families of Mark Duggan, Sean
Rigg, Sheku Bayoh and others.
At the front of the march which made its way very slowly and in silence down
Whitehall were the groups of families of the victims with their banners, followed
by various groups supporting the protest.
The march stopped at Downing St, where there were speeches from family members,
including Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson the uncle of Oscar Grant
who was killed by a police officer in Los Angeles, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet
whose twin brother Leon Patterson was killed by Manchester police in 1992,
Kadisha Brown-Burrell, whose brother Kingsley Burrell died in police custody
in 2011. Shaun Hall, the brother of Mark Duggan, shot by police in 2011 in
Tottenham and Marcia Rigg whose brother Sean was killed in Brixton police
station in 2008.
A group of family members took a letter into Downing St while the rally continued.
Many of those taking part wore t-shirts with the message '1518 deaths in police
custody since 1990 ', though others have died in prisons and secure hospitals
also. Despite the huge number of deaths, many with clear evidence of beating
and murder, not a single case has yet resulted in any justice.
Ripper 'Selfies with Dead Women'
Cable St, London. Sat 31 Oct 2015
A 'Sister of Perpetual Resistance' holds up a bucket
'Dead Women Can't Protest' outside the Ripper 'museum'
London Feminist Activists protested at the Jack the Ripper 'museum' against
Halloween event publicity inviting visitors to take 'selfies' with the body
of one of his dead victims. They were joined by comedian Kate Smurthwaite,
Class War and the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance.
Protests continue against the Ripper 'musuem', a tacky tourist attraction
in London's East End celebrating the atrocities carried out against innocent
women by a sadistic serial murderer (most likely to have been Montague John
Druit, who tuned his slashing skills on the playing fields of Eton - or rather
the Fives court - (though he actually attended Winchester College and only
went to Eton as a visiting sportsman) and who committed suicide in the Thames
at Hammersmith shortly after the final murder.)
The 'museum's' press release, "This Halloween weekend Jack's back.
Dare you have a selfie with him in his sitting room where he planned his horrific
murders? Or how about a picture with Jack in Mitre Square together with the
body of Catherine Eddowes?" apalled most of those who read it, and
The Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists (LFA) organised a protest which
They turned up with cat masks and the Sisters
of Perpetual Resistance came in thier curious triangular black hoods with
a banner 'What a Bloody Ripp-Off' and a bucket 'Dead Women Can't Protest'.
Comedian Kate Smurthwaite was there holding a poster 'Corpses ain't Tourism'
and a little late Class War arrived with their 'Women's Death Brigade' banner.
The LFA had also brought their own version of 'museum' owner Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe,
a mask of his face on an unsexy blowup doll wearing a Fawcett Society t-shirt
with the word 'feminist' in its message 'This is what a feminist looks like'
crossed out in red and a large red 'CAPITALIST' added.
There were a few short speeches, including by the event organiser and by
Kate Smurthwaite and Becky Warnock who set up a
petition on 38 degrees against the Ripper 'museum' which currently has
over 12,000 signatures.
The protest was continuing as I left for another event
SOAS Shut Down after Sandy suspended
SOAS, London. Thu 29 Oct 2015
and violin at the end of the rally for Sandy
SOAS escalated action against their student occupation, attempting to
stop access and suspending the Unison Branch Secretary Sandy Nicholl. Many
teaching and administrative staff refused to cross a picket line and management
locked the doors of the university.
A large crowd filled the area between SOAS and the Brunei Gallery (still
partly occupied by students) and messages of support for Sandy came from colleges
and trade unions around the country. A long series of speakers also came to
give their support in person.
There was tremendous warm support when Sandy Nicoll himself came up to speak,
with people shouting out, cheering and clapping in a truly rapturous welcome.
Sandy was suspended on an entirely false charge and there seems to be little
chance of the university getting back to normal busines until he is reinstated.
At the end of the rally, many of those present took part in the 'Strikey-Strikey'
dance, a version of the hokey-cokey in a large circle where at the of each
verse everyone runs like made into the centre. Afterwards, as I was leaving,
people set off smoke flares and paraded with banners and a violin and drums.
5000 Days of Guantanamo torture
Downing St, London. Sat 24 Oct 2015
Protesters opposite Downing St call for Shaker Aamer
to be sent home without further delay
Shaker Aamer today spent his 5000th day of brutal treatment in Guantanamo,
imprisoned there without charge or trial. Cleared for release in 2007, again
in 2009 and now by Obama, he could at last come home to his family in London
Obama had to give 30 days notice of his release to the US parliament, and
that expires tomorrow. But campaigners are worried that there will be further
delays before he is released.
Shaker Aamer was working for a Muslim charity in Afghanistan when he was
captured by local bandits and sold for a ransom to the US Army. There has
never been any credible evidence that he was involved with any terrorist group
- the only known statement against him having been extracted out of a man
he met in prison at Bagram air force base under extreme torture. Since the
US have never been able to find any corroboration he has never been charged
Shaker Aamer, an interpreter, found himself in prison at Bagram and Guantanamo
with many non-English speakers and acted as an interpreter for many of them,
also standing up for their rights. He witnessed torture of himself and others
by both US and UK personnel, and it is thought that the fact he may testify
to this is why he has been kept in custody for so long.
The authorities were almost certainly hoping they would be able to release
him to Saudi Arabia, his country of birth from which he fled, where he would
almost certainly have disappeared without trace. But the outcry across the
world and the protests here and elsewhere made that impossible.
During the protest there were several scenes of street theatre illustrating
the force feeding of prisoners such as Shaker at Guantanamo. Force feeding
has been defined as a form of torture, and the insertion of a tube through
a nostril - never a comfortable procedure as I found when it was done with
care for medical reasons - was apparently performed at the camp with an unnecessary
degree of force.
Among those attending the protest was Conservative MP for Twickenham Dr Tania
Mathias who has taken an interest in his case since her election in May. Speakers
included Aisha Maniar, organiser of the London Guantánamo Campaign,
Sara Birch of the Lewes group of Amnesty International and Sheikh Sulaiman
Ghani, the Imam of Tooting Islamic Centre which Shaker's family attends.
'Free My Father' pleads Zainab Omar
Downing St, London. Sat 24 Oct 2015
born a few months after her father Shawki Ahmed Omar was captured by the US
has never seen him
Zainab Omar and her mother Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye protested with those calling
for the immediate release of Shaker Aamer. Her father Shawki Ahmed Omar and
pregnant mother, were both arrested and tortured by the US in Iraq in 2004.
Her mother was release shortly before Zeinab's birth, but her father is still
in jail, though details of where his is held have often been withheld. He
was held and tortured in Abu Ghraib and when the US left Iraq handed over
by the US to the Iraqi authorities.
Zainab and her mother come down regularly to London to protest outside the
US Embassy. Her mother is a US citizen and Shawki Omar has dual Jordanian/US
nationality. Born in Kuwait in 1962 he went to the US as a student in 1979
and became a US citizen in 1986 a few years after his marriage.
Zainab spoke briefly at the Guantanamo protest calling for action by the US
authorities to get Iraq to free her father and then took part in the photocall
for TV news at the end of the protest.
Occupy at Daily Mall for Climate Crisis
Kensington, London. Fri 23 Oct 2015
Donnachadh McCarthy and others with copies of The Occupied Daily Mail outside
the Daily Mail offices
Occupy set up camp for a 48hr protest urging editor Paul Dacre to cease their
support of fossil fuel lobbyists and climate change deniers and join a campaign
for the urgent positive action needed to give Britain and the global environment
Donnachadh McCarthy and others from Occupy arrived with copies of The Occupied
Daily Mail, three small trees, a couple of tents, a large banner and a tombstone
recording 400,000 climate deaths and set up camp in a parking space opposite
There were speeches from Donnnachadh, Tarpaulin Simon (Simon Morris), a speaker
in a t-shirt with the message 'I'm the one the Daily Mail warned you about',
Oliver Tickell, Editor of The Ecologist, Ban Private Cars in London mayoral
candidate Rosalind Readhead and Green Party leader Natalie Bennett.
The protesters say:
The fossil fuel lobbyists, oil corporations and corrupt politicians
are destroying any hope of meaningful climate crisis action in Britain with
impunity, behind the protection of the right-wing media billionaires.
In the last few months, the government has:
Cut support for cleaner cars.
Cut support for solar energy.
Abolished support for on-shore wind.
Abolished zero-carbon new homes regulations.
Abolished support for home energy efficiency - Green Deal.
Slashed already tiny budget for cycling.
Created new Oil & Gas Corporation to maximise fossil fuel exploration
Introduced taxation for renewable energy!!!
Are slashing taxes on fracking.
Abolished requirement for fracking corporations to have planning permission
to drill under our homes.
Allowed local planning committees to block local wind farms.
Introduced huge new subsidies for North Sea Oil exploration.
Subsidising off-shore oil exploration in Brazil.
Pouring billions into creating new roads.
Supporting disastrous Third Runway at Heathrow...
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre had agreed to meet with Donnachadh McCarthy
and Natalie Bennett to discuss the climate crisis. I left before the time
of their appointment. The camp had stated they would carry out a 48 hour vigil
outside the newspaper, but I was unable to find time to get back to them.
Lisa McKenzie Not Guilty!
Stratford, London. Wed 21 Oct 2015
comes out of Stratford Magistrates Court after the case against her was thrown
A Stratford court threw out a charge of joint enterprise against Lisa Mckenzie
for her actions at a Class War 'Poor Doors' protest which could have had serious
consequences for the right to protest and found her not guilty of criminal
Lisa was arrested at the
protest on April 2nd, and was then told it was for criminal damage for
having put a sticker on the window of One Commercial St at the Poor Doors
weeks earlier on March 19th. I had been watching her closely taking pictures
at that event and knew that it simply was not possible, and had agreed to
go to court as a witness.
On the Friday before the court hearing she was told that the police had now
altered the charge, and as well as two public order offences she was also
to be charged under ‘Joint Enterprise with Persons Unknown’
of causing criminal damage, presumably because the police had been unable
to find any evidence that she had actually put a sticker on the window.
Joint Enterprise meant that Lisa could have been convicted for anthing anyone
else had done and could have led to her being issued by police with a Criminal
behaviour order on conviction which would limit her freedom of speech and
movement for 5 years. It's an ancient principle of law which has only been
used in recent years to convict gang members in murder trials when there is
no evidence against them - leading to many injustices, and there have been
many calls for its use to be seriously limited or even dropped. It certainly
has never been used before against anyone taking part in a political protest
- and would severely threatens the right to protest.
I arrived at the court to hear that the police were also changing the charges
and were charging her with respect to a protest on March
12th - at which she - as I could also attest - was not present.
I sat around outside the court, inwardly rehearsing my evidence, and halfway
through the morning heard that two of the three charges, including joint enterprise,
had been thrown out, leaving just the one charge of criminal damage. The police
were alleging that removing the Class War sticker she was alleged to have
put on the window cost £50. After the police had given their evidence
for the prosecution, Lisa's barrister stood up, but was told not to bother
to present a case as nothing he could say would alter the verdict, which was
clearly 'not guilty'.
So I was never called to give evidence. I rushed to the reception office
to reclaim my cameras and photographed Lisa as she came out from the court,
and then as she posed with some of the 'persons unknown' on the court steps
and in the pub where her victory was celebrated.
Cleaners protest in Barbican
Barbican Centre, London. Sat 17 Oct 2015
United Voices of the World General Secretary Petross
Elia tells people in the Barbican about the cleaners who want full payment
of the living wage, sick pay and an end to workfare.
Cleaners protested after management has ignored requests to talk with the
UVW union over failing to pay the living wage until 6 months late, contractual
sick pay, an end to victimisation for trade union activites and the use of
After protesting noisily outside the main entrance, a small group of the
cleaners, led by UVW General Secretary Petross Elia, ran inside past security
staff and made their way to the middle of the arts centre, where they held
a short protest, explaining to Barbican customers that the cleaners deserved
to be paid a living wage and to have fair conditions of service, and that
the use of unpaid 'Workfare' in the centre should stop.
The protest inside took place under a large banner 'Free Speech Allowed'
for an event 'Battle of Ideas' taking place in the Barbican. Barbican security
were not happy with free speech from Petross, but he was able to finish the
protest, receiving a round of applause from people in the Barbican. When police
arrived, discussions were friendly and the UVW agreed to leave the building
in a few minutes without any trouble.
The protest then continued in front of the main entrance, and was still continuing
when I went home a few minutes later.
Junior Doctors protest to save the NHS
Waterloo Place & Whitehall, London. Sat 17 Oct 2015
Junior doctors raise their hands in a show of support
- the new contract will cut pay and increase workload
Junior doctors protest changes to NHS contracts that will mean working
more unsocial hours at standard rates, remove safeguards that stop hospitals
overworking doctors, and penalise those volunteer for charities, have families
or carry out research.
They see the new contracts as a part of the increasing attempts to privatise
the NHS for the profits of private medical firms, which many Tory MPs have
interests in. Overwhelmingly doctors who work in the NHS want to see it kept
as a service dedicated to the public good rather than working for private
After a rally in Waterloo Place, thousands of junior doctors marched down
Whitehall, sitting briefly outside Downing St and then filled Parliament Square;
some were unable to enter for lack of space.
End the killing in Palestine
Israeli Embassy, London. Sat 17 Oct 2015
Protesters a short distance from the Israeli embassy
shout for an end to Israel's aggression to Palestinians
A large crowd of protesters with Palestian flags protested close to the Israeli
embassy calling for peace and an end to Israeli repression and killing of
Palestinians, often unreported in the UK media, which lie behind the recent
stabbings of Jews.
While the killing of Israelis makes the BBC news headlines, the deaths of
Palestinians at the hand of Israeli security forces, illegal settlers and
other Jewish extremists is seldom mentioned, although some BBC correspondents
make a point of doing so despite the corporate pressure to downplay them.
Speakers at the rally included Yaman Birawi of Palestine Forum in Britain,
Stop the War's Chris Nineham,Glyn Secker, of Jews for Justice for Palestinians
who was skipper of the Irene which attempted to break Israel's blockade of
Gaza, Kamal Hawwash, Executive Committee member of Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
Raghad Altikriti of the Muslim Association of Britain, Maha Azzam, Head of
the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and Chair of Egyptians for Democracy, Shamiul
Joarder of Friends of Al-Aqsa and Former MP George Galloway, who is standing
as Respect Party candidate for London Mayor.
NEO Bankside Stirling Prize nomination
RIBA, London, Thu 15 Oct 2015
No one from NEO Bankside came out to collect the 2915
O J Simpson Prize for getting away with murder
Architects for Social Housing protested at the Stirling Prize against
the nomination of NEO Bankside, a luxury investment development which breaks
all planning requirements for social housing and sets a dangerous precedent
for social cleansing.
The flyer handed out by the protesters and also made into paper planes which
they threw, on one side had in large print a quote from Richard Rogers, one
of the architects involved in NEO Bankside 'Architecture is always political'.
The say this development is a class war against the poor and on the reverse
explained why. NEO Bankside contains 217 homes with a market price ranging
from £1.25 million to £19.75 million when 345,000 Londoners, 4%
of the city’s population, are on council waiting lists for homes.
They point out that NEO Bankside has ignored, bent and violated the planning
obligations put in place to ensure the building of social housing by London
boroughs. It has reduced the percentage of its affordable housing required
uder Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act from 40% to a paltry
27.5%, by getting the property developers Native Land to undervalue the estimate
of sales to just over half of the actual sale value. NEO Bankside then paid
Southwark Council £11 million to build its reduced affordable housing
quota off-site on land sold to them by the council for a pittance, demolishing
a council-run children’s home and day-care nursery in the process.
The so-called affordable housing is for rent at 80% of the market rent, way
out of the reach of ordinary workers in London. Rather than 217 luxury flats
mainly for non-resident tax exiles and foreign investers, the cost of NEO
Bankside could have built 2,260 Peabody flats at the cost per flat of another
of the Stirling nominations. At a time when 42,000 families were evicted from
rented accomodation last year and 88,000 London children will be homeless
this winter, such buildings are clearly socially unacceptable.
Despite this, NEO Bankside was nominated for the prize awarded to what the
RIBA calls ‘the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture
in the past year’ and RIBA President Stephen Hodder called the development
a ‘game-changer that other architects, clients and local authorities
should aspire to.’
Architects for Social Housing say its nomination sets a precedent in London
for councillors, property developers and architects in thrall to the politics
of social cleansing, and accuse both architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
and RIBA of violating paragraph 5 of the ARB Architects Code of Conduct and
Practice: ‘to consider the wider impact of your work.’
The say the nomination of NEO Bankside for the Stirling Prize gives cultural
legitimacy to the class war being waged through housing in Britain today and
cal lon all architects to begin working with London’s communities to
meet their housing needs, rather than accepting their current role as ‘the
funeral directors of the working class.’
People held banners, handed out the flyers and flew them as paper planes
as people entered the building for the ceremony (tickets at over £200
a head including VAT and booking fee.) Some stopped to take the leaflets,
and a few to talk with the protesters and share their unease at the NEO Bankside
Police did a little pushing of the protesters and warned them that throwing
paper planes could constitue an assault. The protesters were careful to pick
up the planes so they could be thrown again and they could not be accused
RIBA has clearly been embarrassed by the revelations about NEO Bankside -
and had been misled over some aspects of the scheme. It came as no surprise
to hear later that the prize had gone instead to Burntwood School,
an impressive revitalisation of a 1950s LCC comprehensive girls’ school
in Wandsworth by architects Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM).
Citizens UK Vigil for more Refugees
Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Tue 13 Oct 2015
People at the candlelit vigil called for much greater
action by the UK to let in refugees from Syria
A candlelit vigil at Parliament called for 1000 Syrian refugees to be resettled
in the UK before Christmas and 10,000 a year for the next 5 years. Six children
froze to death in the camps last year and many in the UK have offered homes
Although the British people have been moved by the plight of refugees struggling
across the Mediterrean with great loss of life and their slow and hazardous
progress across Europe, the UK government has so far made only a trivial committment
and limited this to admitting a small number from those still in refugee camps
in the countries around Syria. Overwhelmingly the people think this is nothing
like enough, with many individuals, organisations and local authorites coming
out with offers to take in refugees.
Speaker after speaker urged Cameron to increase the number that the UK will
take and to get on urgently with getting refugees here before they freeze
to death in the bitter European winter. Citizens UK's call for 1000 by Christmas
and 10,000 a year for the next 5 years still seems on the low side, given
the huge numbers now in the camps and moving across Europe, although it is
two and a half times greater than the current government proposals still seems
to many a rather inadequate response.
Among the speakers were SNP MP Angus Robertson, Labour MP Yvette
Cooper, a leading East London Imam, The Right Reverend Paul Butler,
Bishop of Durham, Bosnian refugee Zrinka Bralo of Citizens UK and
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale.
Zionists and Palestinian protests over killings
Palestinian Authority UK Mission, Hammersmith. Tue 13 Oct 2015
Protesters with Palestine flags and posters 'End the Occupation' and 'Stop
the Killing' came to oppose the ZF.
A protest by the Zionist Federation against the stabbings of Jews in
Israel outside the Palestinian Authority UK Mission was opposed by Jewish
and other groups supporting Palestinian resistance to occupation and Israeli
terror who called for an end to Israeli occupation and all violence against
both Jews and Palestinians in Israel.
Police kept the two groups around a hundred yards apart and they could hardly
see each other except for the Palestine and Israel flags they were waving.
Loud public address systems meant they could at least hear some of what the
others were saying. But it was clear that those supporting Israel were deaf
to what the Palestinian supporters were saying, with Professor Manuel
Hassassian, Palestinian ambassador to the UK quite clearly condemning
the violence on both sides and down the road a speaker making as his main
point the 'fact' that the Palestinians refused to condemn violence against
There is of course a great assymetry between violence against Israel and
Palestine, with much smaller numbers of Israelis being killed, largely in
suicide bomb attacks and knifings. Palestinians have been killed in much larger
numbers, by the attacks of the Israeli army, by Israeli police shootings and
by the Jewish settlers occupying parts of Palestine; Israeli army and police
turn a blind eye to their raids on Palestinian villages in which people are
sometimes killed as well as the olive trees on which they depend being uprooted.
Many of the protesters at both ends of the road were Jewish, with support
for Palestine from Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods who were hosting the
pro-Palestinian protest which had been called to support the mission against
the Zionist protest, along with The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
and the British Committee for Universities of Palestine, as well as other
Jewish protesters, some Palestinians and others from the Palestine Solidarity
Campaign and the British left. At the Zionist Federation end of the road as
well as Jews were some supporters of right-wing British groups, including
some Christian groups.
Ankara peace protest bombing
Downing St, London. Sun 11 Oct 2015
Daymer carry posters by Emek Partisi (Turkish Labour
Party) showing some of the dead into Trafalgar Square
Several thousand Turks and Kurds held a rally and march in London against
the bombing of a peace protest in Ankara which killed 130 people, blaming
Turkey and President Erdogan for the massacre. The BBC reported the protests
in Turkey but not that in London.
The protesters who met for a rally at Downing St included people from various
groups including Daymer Turkish & Kurdish Community Centre, Halk Cephesi,
the MLKP, Britain Alevi Federation, Alevi Women's Association of Britain,
the Ataturk Society of the UK, and there was support from various UK left
groups including trade unionists and Left Unity. Political artist Kaya Mar
was there with a painting of Erdogan strutting over the law and with bags
full of Euros and human rights activist Peter Tatchell came to show his support.
As well as protesters against the Turkish Erdogan government and ISIS, there
were also some present protesting against Masoud Barzani, the President of
the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, who
set fire to posters of him.
After a number of speeches in various languages, though mainly in English,
the protesters set off to march through London, either to the BBC or the Turkish
Zombies crawl for St Mungo's
Jubilee Bridge & Embankment Gardens. Sat 10 Oct 2015
Zombies make their way across the Thames near the start
of their day-long crawl around London
Hundreds of zombies crawled through London in aid of St Mungo’s
Broadway, a charity which provides the homeless with emergency shelter, housing,
healthcare and training. Despite appearances the zombies were remarkably friendly
and it was a rather tamer event than zombie crawls I've photographed in the
Probably the charity aspect attracts a different class of zombie, and certainly
these were very much less alcohol fuelled that most, though perhaps by the
end of their crawl things might have changed.
Photographing the TTIP protest meant I was a little late to photograph the
zombies, and arrived just as the last were leaving their starting point in
Leake Street under Waterloo Station, where the graffited walls would have
made a good background, though probably it would have been too crowded to
As the zombies made their way along the Albert Embankment and over the upstream
Jubillee Bridge I was able to take some pictures, although there were still
too many people with cameras for any of us to really work sensibly. And in
the Victoria Embankment Gardens it was really impossible. I gave up and went
Rather more of my pictures than usual depart from the full 35mm frame format
with its 1.5:1 aspect ratio. I don't like to crop, preferring to compose in
camera, but there were just too many photographers to do so.
TTIP protest at Business Ministry
BIS, Westminster, London. Sat 10 Oct 2015
TTIP would force us to accept food produced or processed in ways the EU thinks
are unsafe, including GM-fed cows and chlorine washed chicken
Protesters at the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills took part in an
EU wide action against TTIP, a secret US/EU trade deal which puts company
profits above democracy. Over 3 million EU citizens have signed petitions
against the agreement.
The protesters included a woman in a cow costume and a man with a red bucket
with hazard labels on it and a rubber chicken. TTIP would force us to accept
US grown and processed foods, including GM crops and meat and dairy products
from animals fed on GM, chickens that are washed in chlorine and other chemical
solutions to allow sloppy husbandry.
It would also allow corporations to dictate government policies by taking
them to courts where any policy might possibly impact on their profits, and
would drive the rapid privatisation of the NHS and other public services.
Although almost all EU citizens are outraged when they hear about the proposals
- which have been kept highly secret - our politicians seem less worried.
Of course much of the Conservative party (although relatively few Tory voters)
are among the major shareholders and directors of the companies that would
gain from these treaties, which are aimed at stopping democracy getting in
the way of corporate profit, and the same is also true of the right wing of
the Labour party, which could account for the lack of concern and opposition
by most of those elected by us to Parliament.
No Third Runway
Parliament Square, London. Sat 10 Oct 2015
A woman wears a hat with a jet aircraft in at at the
rally in front of Big Ben
Around a thousand people turned up for a rally against building a third
runway at Heathrow as levels of noise and pollution across London were already
unacceptable. The Davies commission was flawed and airport expansion was unnecessary
As well as those from the Heathrow villages that will be directly affected
by the actual expansion on the ground, there were many from areas that already
suffer from noise and pollution from Heathrow, including Chiswick, Hammersmith
and Teddington as well as from environmental groups including Friends of the
Gyles Brandreth introduced Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, MPs Andy
Slaughter & Tania Mathias, Mayoral candidates Zac Goldsmith,
Sadiq Khan, Sian Berry, Caroline Pidgeon, Richmond Council leader
Lord True, campaigners John Sauven of Greenpeace, John Stewart
of HACAN and others. I missed a few of the speakers when I left for ten minutes
to look for another protest.
But the star of the show was local resident Mrs Taylor who has lived in a
house right on the edge of the proposed extension for 80 years and came on
helped by her daughter and grand-daughter to be interviewed by Brandreth.
Four Seasons in Staines Oast House
Staines, Middx. Sun 4 Oct 2015
Four Seasons squatters pose outside the Oast House
I paid another visit to the occupied Staines Oast House, part of an old Brewery
complex that for many years was the main Adult Education centre in Staines,
but which was run down after adult education was handed over to local colleges.
The college finally stopped classes and abandoned the building around seven
years ago, since when it has been empty and left to decay.
The building is owned by Surrey County Council, who would like to sell it
for redevelopment - it is a large site including a large public car park area.
One building on the site is currently used by a local church. The building
is Grade II listed and it would seem that the council were hoping the building
would deteriorate so much they could argue it had to be demolished.
Inside the occupiers - who succesfully fought Surrey in court against an immediate
repossession, having shown they had had a foothold in the building for over
two months and that the council witnesses were incorrect - had made considerable
progress in tidying up the space where they hope to run workshops, meetings,
music and other events and a free cafe.
I'd gone to show Linda who had attended courses and meetings there in the
past what was happening there rather than to take pictures. On the September
page you can see more from my first visit there.
Unfortunately, a few weeks later at the start of November Surrey went to
court again and this time - despite further misleading information including
submitting documents for an entirely different property almost an hour's drive
away were awarded possession, as although it was clear Surrey had not been
looking after the property it was also clear that it belonged to them. There
is still just a little hope as I write that some agreement can be reached.
Open the Rafah Crossing Egypt!
Egyptian Embassy, London. Sat 3 Oct 2015
waved flags, held up posters and shouted whenever anyone entered or left the
London Visual Activist Collective held an emergency protest at the Egyptian
embassy in London, calling on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza and
end Israel's seige of Gaza which stops food and vital material entering the
Earlier this year UN assistant secretary-general for political affairs Jens
Anders Toyberg-Frandzen called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing
and allow Palestinians smooth movement from and into the blockaded Gaza Strip.
I left while a few others were still on their way to join the protest by
a dozen or so activists. The group have until now largely organised on-line
protests. One of the protesters held up a sign 'Where is Talula?', the name
assumed by an Internet troll who comments on many of the group's posts and
claims to attend pro-Palestinian protests but has never done so.
Global March for Elephants and Rhinos
London. Sat 3 Oct 2015
The marchers, 96 in elephant costumes - the number killed
by poachers every day - go into Leicester Square
Marchers, many in elephant and rhino costumes, marched through central
London calling for urgent action by China, the UK and CITES to save these
animals, threatened with extinction by poaching and trade in ivory and rhino
The marchers met in Cavendish Square for a few speeches before the march,
and although there were hundreds of them, marched along the pavement rather
in the road into Oxford St and down Regent St past Picaddilly Circus and on
into Leicester Square to the Charing Cross Road. On the side of Trafalgar
Square they paused briefly in front of South Africa House before continuing
down Whitehall where they were going to hand in a letter to David Cameron.
I left them to go elsewhere shortly before they reached Downing St.
More than 35,000 elephants are killed every year so their tusks can be carved
into ivory trinkets. A rhino is slaughtered once every 8 hours for its horn.
Their only hope for survival lies in an immediate end to the ivory and rhino
horn trade (both "legal" and "illegal") and the chance
to recover from decades of mass slaughter.
The marchers want David Cameron to keep his 2010 election pledge to ban the
‘unbearable’ UK ivory trade; ivory is still sold in the UK at
auction, by retailers, at antique fairs, and online, and the UK is the biggest
exporter of carved ivory in the EU. They want China to end the ivory trade
and close the ivory carving factories there. The ask CITES to list all elephants
around the world in their list of most-endangered species threatened with
extinction and to vote against the legalisatiion of trade in rhino horn in
The protest was supported by Zac Goldsmith, Joanna Lumley and others who had
signed the letter but were not on the march, which was led by African drummer
Sounds of Africa, Luyanda and Dominic Dyer of the Born Free Foundation, Care
for the Wild and CEO of The Badger Trust. The march, which was started in
2013 by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was this year organised by grassroots
group Action for Elephants UK.
IWGB Cleaners protest for Living Wage
Southwark Crown Court, London. Fri 2 Oct 2015
IWGB banner calling for Justice for Cleaners outside
the court, reflected in the building behind.
The IWGB trade union protested noisily on the pavement outside Southwark
Crown Court court, calling for outsourcing company Mitie who employ the cleaners
there to pay them the London Living Wage. Currently they are on minimum wage
and conditions and complain of management bullying.
Among the IWGB members and supporters were several cycle couriers, another
group of low-paid workers that the IWGB is now recruiting and fighting for
better pay and conditions for them.
The protest was as usual for the IWGB a noisy one, and a woman came out from
the court and told them to stop and that it was illegal to protest. She was
told that working in a court she should know that protest was still legal
in this country so long as the protesters were on the public highway outside
the boundary of the court.
One of the protesters had come with a toddler, who took a placard and wandered
onto the wide covered area in front of the court doors, where protest is against
the law. Being under 10 he could not be arrested, and amused both the protesters
and the court security, but he found the placard a little too big to keep
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