March for Climate Action Starts
Gathering and Initial Rally
Park Lane, London. Sun 29 Nov 2015
The Greenpeace banner 'The Whole World is Watching'
and polar bears
Park Lane was beginning to fill up with people as I arrived early for the
March for Climate action, one of about 2,500 events around the world on the
weekend before the start of the COP21 talks in Paris, where 147 heads of state
and government are to meet and try to agree on limiting carbon emissions in
the hope of limiting global warming.
The London protest was said to to be the second largest of these events,
with an estimated 50,000 people taking part - out of a roughly 600,000 involved
in the world-wide protests, just 10,000 less than the protest in Melbourne.
It had an extra impetus from the ban on protests in Paris, with many from
the UK who would otherwise have travelled there protesting in London instead.
The protest was attended by a fairly bewildering range of groups, coming
together from very different perspectives, but all deeply worried about the
impact of man-made climate change. As well as the group which started annual
climate marches in London and organised them in the first almost ten years,
the Campaign Against Climate Change, there were other environmental
groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, on-line
protest groups such as Avaaz and 38 degrees, large aid charities
including Action Aid and Oxfam, animal charities, political
parties, anti-fracking protesters and more who make up the Climate Coalition
along with Stop Climate Chaos Cymru and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.
The total membership of all the over 100 UK organisations involved is over
11 million. With so many different groups with so many agendas - and with
many appealing to largely apolitical people and with highly paid staff at
the top - its hardly surprising that the event has lost at least some of its
Before the march started I made an attempt to take pictures of as many of
the different groups involved as possible, working my way slowly up Park Lane,
though it soon got so crowded that it became difficult to move or get enough
space to take pictures.
I made my way back to the front of the march, where a rally was taking place
with speakers standing on the Fire Brigades Union fire engine. Useful
though this is as a mobile platform, it presents something of a nightmare
for photographers, with ugly pipe-work obstructing our view of the speakers.
The first speeches, most of which I missed completely, being too far away
in the crowd were by people from the Global Frontlines bloc, representing
countries mainly the Global South who are most exposed to the risks of climate
change - and which is already causing serious problems in many of their countries.
It had been agreed by the organisers of the march that their block would lead
the march through London. Another speaker I missed was Dame Vivienne Westwood,
who had not arrived when I photographed her Climate Revolution group,
though I did take a few pictures of her later on the march.
At the end of the rally there were speeches by FBU General Secretary Matt
Wrack (it was after all his fire engine), Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
and finally by the sole Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas. Others from
the Green Party, including the leader Natalie Bennett, and the two
deputy leaders were also on the march, and I had photographed them earlier.
Global Frontlines lead Climate March
Hyde Park Corner to Parliament, London. Sun 29 Nov 2015
Organisers tried to hide the Global Frontlines bloc
'Still fighting CO2onialism - Your Climate Profits Kill'
Although it had been agreed that the march should be led by the Global
Frontlines bloc, on the day the organisers, representing the large groups
including Avaaz, changed their mind. They decided to put the main
march banner along with some of those in carnival animal costumes at the front
of the march as they felt the Global Frontline was too radical. They actually
wanted system change not sops.
The organisers tried to outflank the Global Frontlines, sending animal costumed
carnivalistas in front of them, but they moved back to the front. For the
first time ever, march organisers had employed commercial security guards
rather than relying on volunteer stewards, and they were ordered to hold back
the bloc, and to try to remove some of the more political placards and coffins
that were being carried.
There were tussles, but the protesters stood their ground, and repelled the
security guards. The organisers then called the police to try and enlist their
help to move the bloc from the front of the march, but other than passing
on the organisers' request I understand they sensibly refused to try to illegally
remove the bloc. The whole argument was a disgraceful attempt to de-politicise
the event and to marginalise those facing the sharp end of climate change,
and one which they successfully resisted.
Most of this took place while I was on my way to the front of the march,
photographing some of the marchers, including anti-fracking groups from Lancashire
- the 'Nanas from Nanashire' including the redoubtable Tina-Louise
Rothery - and the people carrying the main banner 'The People's March
for Climate & Jobs', accompanied by giraffe and other animal costumed
marchers as well as representatives of other groups, which had stopped to
put a gap between it and the Global Frontlines.
The banner at the front of the Global Frontlines bloc - and thus march as
a whole - read 'STILL FIGHTING CO2ONIALISM YOUR CLIMATE PROFITS KILL'
and there were others with anti-colonial messages including 'Extractivism
is Colonialism' and other anti-mining sentiments. Apparently what worried
the more conservative charities most was the message 'British Imperialism
causes Climate Change' as well as two coffins naming companies BP
and BHP Billiton.
In the Global bloc were others carrying banners and posters calling for reparations
for the effects of colonialism and an end to neo-colonialism. There were several
large posters 'The Wretched of the Earth' (the title of Fanon's brilliant
analysis of the psychological effects of colonisation and the path to liberation
from it), and
many posters about environmentally disastrous mining operations, mainly by
London-listed companies. The bloc included a strong South American presence,
with the 49 coloured square Wiphalas of the pro-indigenous movements
in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
The group carrying the main banner included Peruvians in traditional dress
and a placard stated 'Long Live the Peruvian People's Struggle'.
Further along it were a group with prominent face markings holding up sheets
with 'PEC 215' crossed out in opposition to the Brazilian constitutional
amendment which will remove land rights from indigenous people, and a large
banner with the message '43?' was a reminder of the 43 Mexican students
captured by police and handed over to a drug gang in Ayotzinapa in September
2014. Also marching with them were many British supporters, including the
'Black Dissidents' and others in the UK civil rights movements, raising
the killing of black people by police in the UK and USA.
The march organisers sent requests to the marchers in the bloc while I was
taking pictures for them to get back behind the main banner, and the group
stopped for a brief consideration. But it was extremely brief, with a loudly
expressed unanimous resolve to keep in the front of the march as had been
It seemed then that the organisers were trying to separate this bloc from
the rest of the march by slowing that down and creating a gap. But this didn't
really happen, and when the bloc sat down on Pall Mall a few yards from the
BP head office, as a protest against that companies environmental destruction
around the world and its collaboration with brutal repression of workers in
some projects, the main body of the march caught up with them, many of the
marchers streaming past the 'The People's March for Climate & Jobs'
banner which the organisers had tried to put in the lead, along with its white
rabbit and giraffes.
I marched to Parliament Square with the Global Frontlines bloc and Vivienne
Westwood's Climate Revolution and others who were now right behind them, and
climbed onto the anti-tank defences in front of Parliament to watch for a
few minutes as the rest of the march arrived behind them. I was pleased to
see that the main banner was now preceded by a large flag for the Campaign
Against Climate Change.
There were two giant screens, one close to the Victoria Tower at the end
of the Houses of Parliament and the second, around a quarter of mile down
Millbank next to the stage where a rally was starting. It was hardly inspiring,
and after listening for a while and taking a few pictures of the crowd I walked
slowly back towards Parliament taking pictures of a few people in it. Rather
more was happening in Parliament Square, were people were still arriving on
the march, with the Vegans in particular making themselves known. Several
of the bands from the march had stopped there and were playing. But by now
I was rather tired and made my way to the station.
Don't Bomb Syria
Downing St, London. Sat 28 Nov 2015
A woman listens to the speeches at the rally in the
middle of Whitehall
Several thousand people came to Downing St to urge MPs not to support
British air strikes on Syria, saying a diplomatic solution should be found
to the conflict. They expressed strong support for Jeremy Corbyn's principled
stand and urged all Labour MPs to back him.
When I arrived well before the protest was due to start, a hundred or so
people, some with placards, were milling around in front of the gates to Downing
St, with police trying to clear them away so that barriers could be put down
on that side of the street. Eventually more police came and persuaded them
all to move across to the other side of the road where a large crowd was already
standing with placards and banners.
Five minutes before the event was due to start there were too many to keep
on the pavement, and police closed the south-bound carriageway to let them
come out onto it and in front of the platform for the speakers in the central
area, with a row of barriers meant to keep them away from the traffic still
going north on the other side of the road.
By the time the speeches began, that area was pretty full, with people filling
it for several hundred yards up Whitehall, as well as some standing across
the road on the pavement.
Speakers at Don't Bomb Syria Rally
Actor Mark Rylance
The speakers were introduced by Andrew Murray of Stop the War and Unite,
and included Musician Brian Eno, Actor Mark Rylance, British Pakistani writer,
journalist, and filmmaker Tariq Ali, Lindsey German of Stop the War, Green
Party Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali, NUT Vice President Philipa Harvey, John Rees
of Stop the War and People's Assembly, The Guardian and New Statesman columnist
Owen Jones, Unite Against Fascism Joint secretary Sabby Dhalu, George Galloway,
CND Chair Kate Hudson and John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want.
MP Diane Abbott (like some others) was held up in traffic and arrived after
I had moved across to photographing the sit-down.
There were some fine speeches, particularly from Tariq Ali (always a pleasure
to watch whatever he says) and some good points were made, particularly about
the need to take effective action against the Turkish complicity in Daesh
oil exports, in which members of Erdogan's family take a leading role, and
against what Tariq Ali described as "the obscenity of the Wahabi regime
in Saudi Arabia' which provides the fanatical religious basis and much funding
for Daesh. And, always in the background, the continuing crisis over Palestine.
But I was left waiting and wanting. There with notebook poised ready to write
down the names of the speakers representing the Syrians and the Syrian Kurds,
who should surely have been at the forefront of this protest rather than so
many old 'Stop the War' war-horses. None came, not because none were available
or willing to speak, but because the politics of those most closely involved
don't accord with those of Stop the War.
Don't Bomb Syria Blocks Whitehall
A young mother shouts and waves her hands while her
chile plays with Don't Bomb Syria placards
While the speeches were taking place there were several attempts by people
to move on to the north-bound carriageway of Whitehall, with police surrounding
them and trying to move them back. For a while buses and other traffic was
able to move slowly through, but eventually more people came onto the road
and it became impossible to keep it clear.
People sat down and chanted 'Don't Bomb Syria' and other slogans and sat
blocking the highway until well after the rally had finished. After around
an hour the police, who had been going around for some time asking people
to move with little success stepped up their action. More police had arrived
and the began to tell people that they would face arrest unless they moved.
Slowly and reluctantly people began to get up, and eventually everyone was
back on the pavement.
Some were still staying there to protest, but more and more were moving away
and it looked as if the protest was more or less over, so I left too.
Stop Killing Cyclists Die-in
TfL Offices, Blackfriars Rd, London. Fri 27 Nov 2015
The die-in blocked Blackfriars Rd and the junction for
around 15 minutes
Cyclists held a rally outside the HQ of Transport for London with 21 coffins
for the 21 cyclists killed on London streets in the last 2 years. After music
and speeches they staged a die-in, closing the junction there for 15 minutes.
The rally came two years after an earlier die-in at the same location which
followed the killing of six cyclists in a terrible fortnight on London roads.
The great majority of deaths of cyclists are caused by drivers of heavy goods
vehicles, particularly skip lorries, which tend to have very limited vision
vision behind and to the side and are unaware of the presence of cyclists.
Since 2013, there has been some very limited progress on cycle safety, with
some improvements to cycle superhighways and other measures, and a greater
awareness of the problem, but much more needs to be done. This year's protest
included a row of 21'coffins' outside the TfL offices, one for each cyclist
killed in the two years since the previous die-in here.
There was a rather different atmosphere from the 2013 protest, with TfL and
police appearing to adopt a more relaxed attitude. With no shocking series
of recent killings it was perhaps not surprising that the protest was noticeably
less well attended this time, but there were still plenty to block the junction
for the die-in.
Prior to the protest 'Stop Killing Cyclists' who organised it had sent a
questionnaire to all the London mayoral candidates asking to indicate whether
they supported the demands for safer cycling - which are also demands that
would make London safer for pedestrians and healthier for us all that are
in the “10% by 2020” London Mayoral Cycle Safety Challenge.
Specifically this calls for:
- 10% of TfL budget by 2020 to be spent on cycling safety,
- full blind-spot safety equipment to be fitted in all existing and new
HGVs, buses, coaches and Tipper Trucks entering London,
- funding for Mini-Holland Programmes for all London Boroughs,
- a comprehensive grid of Go-Dutch standard physically protected cycle-routes
- a 20mph London speed limit (except on motorways),
- allowing cyclists to turn left (with full pedestrian priority) at red
lights when traffic allows - and an emergency programme of installing at
least 500 safe protected left-hand turns as promised by Boris but not delivered,
- an end to the the lethal paid by timed delivery regimes for HGVs in the
construction industry and similar bus performance systems
- traffic free major squares and shopping streets
- two TLF board places for cyclists
- a rush hour ban on tipper trucks and the use of electric delivery trucks
and cargo bikes to bring inner London deliveries from outer London HGV parks.#
Only two of the candidates supported the key 10% of TfL budget demand, Sian
Berry of the Green Party, who attended the vigil and Independent Rosalind
Readhead whose platform is to ban private cars from London's Zone 1 &
2 (and was probably also present as she has been at some earlier cycle protests.)
Neither Sadiq Khan (Labour) nor Zac Goldsmith (Tory) would make any specific
financial commitment to cycling, though Khan promised a "significant"
increase. Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon promised at least 3% and more
if cycling exceeded 3% of traffic.
There was more agreement with some of the other demands with all five supporting
the pedestrianisation of Oxford St, to consider allowing left turns at red
lights, to have more Mini-Hollands and support some retrofitting of blind-spot
The vigil began with several numbers from a vocalist (Ted Browne?) and a
keyboard player before speeches announced by from Tom Kearney who was lucky
to survive as a pedestrian run over by a bus on Oxford St, and Deborah Willemen,
a Belgian mother who was knocked off her bicycle a few months after moving
Professor Brendan Delaney, a doctor working in London, put the actual deaths
from road accidents into proportion, as air pollution, mainly from traffic,
particularly diesel-engines in buses and lorries, is thought to kill around
7,000 a year in London. Safer cycling would put many more cyclists on the
roads, reducing pollution significantly as well as providing exercise that
would contribute to health. A cyclist and a doctor, he would like to be able
to encourage many more of his patients to cycle in London.
A more personal and moving account came from Victoria Lebrec who was run
over by a skip lorry in December 2014. Her life was saved when London Air
Ambulance doctors stopped the bleeding but later she had her left leg amputated
at the Royal London. She broke into tears as she bravely called for more to
be done to make cycling safer.
Peter Hartley, Chair of Westminster Living Streets called on Westminster
to do more to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being killed, and of the need
to argue against those who oppose measures to make London safer for both cyclists
and pedestrians, angry motorists who write letters to the papers. Westminster
and other councils currently largely serve the interests of such drivers in
their road planning.
Cycling campaigner Alex Raha read a funeral poem for cyclists and eight year
old Scarlett Brady Hughes read out the names of the 21 cyclists killed before
cyclists walked out onto the roads with their bikes for the silent die-in.
Police stood back as stewards stopped the traffic for this. Once the traffic
was stopped they went to explain to those in the queues what was happening
and why, and although a number of motorists made U-turns and drove away, I
heard none of the angry blowing of horns that usually accompanies any traffic
stoppage in London.
After the 15 minute die-in the road was rapidly cleared and traffic was quickly
moving again, and there was a final speech on the pavement in front of the
TfL offices by Donnachadh McCarthy of Stop Killing Cyclists, co-organiser
of the event with Nicola Branch. As I left those taking part were singing
the closing song, Queen's 'I love My Bike'.
Ripper 'Museum' Candlelit Vigil
Cable St, London. Thu 26 Nov 2016
A woman from the local Citizen's UK speaks at the vigil
A candlelit vigil and rally outside the Jack the Ripper 'museum' was
followed by a commemoration of his victims at the local church making the
start of 16 days of action against violence against women - more than 2 are
killed each week in the UK.
The vigil was planned by the local Church of England and supported by the
Theology centre at St George’s and London Citizens’ Whitechapel
HQ as well as various women's groups and celebrated the lives of the victims
of the serial killer who horrendously mutilated his victims - as the museum
shows for the titillation of visitors.
But the vigil, which included an address by historian Sarah Jackson who is
campaigning for “a real heritage centre” about the women of the
East End - which the Ripper 'museum' pretended it would be - included readings
of the brief details that are known about the women that were killed rather
than any details of the terrible murders of Mary Kelly, Polly Nichols,
Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catharine Eddowes - whose
great-great-great granddaughter Jean Smith and her daughter Tracy were at
When the vigil started, an employee was working to clean inside the 'museum'
and he left while the vigil was taking place. He shouted to the local newspaper
photographer who was present 'Don't take my photograph!' and then
lunged at him as he did, grabbing his camera and assaulting him. Police who
had been sitting inside a van next to the vigil jumped out and separated the
two men. The 'museum' employee then accused the photographer of assault, despite
the crowd of witnesses present who had seen him attack the photographer.
The police seemed very reluctant to take action, failing to arrest the employee.
Possibly their reluctance was because unless they were neglecting their duty
of keeping an eye on the protest they cannot have failed to see the assault.
Later as I walked away from the church past their van they were discussing
the case over the radio and seemed to be rather worried about it.
The vigil continued, with a minute of silence for the women, and at the end
we were all invited to walk the short distance to St George’s-in-the-East
in a candle-lit procession to a service of remembrance there. I went with
them to the church but had to leave to catch a train before the service.
People in the area still hope to set up a permanent museum about the women
of the East End, and a exhibition has been announced to take place at St George's
for next year's International Women's Day and to be shown later at both St
Paul’s in The Highway and St Mary’s in Cable Street.
Class War at Osborne & Little
Chelsea, London. Wed 25 Nov 2015
Class War's banner outside Little & Osborne attracted
some interest from those passing by
A small group of Class War protesters went to George Osborne's family business
to protest at the company's avoidance of taxes while he was announcing savage
cuts in public services in the Autumn Statement.
It appears that the family business in wallpaper and other interior decoration
materials, despite having a lucrative business with branches in leading cities
around the world and trading on-line, manages to arrange its business so as
to evade paying corporation tax.
A Channel 4 investigation also found that they had made £6 million
in a property deal with a developer based in the British Virgin Islands, a
tax haven, to redevelop its former London HQ as around 45 flats and houses.
George Osborne is a beneficiary of a family trust which owns at least 15%
of Osborne and Little and so would have profited from the sale. While doubtless
legal, the company's tax arrangements hardly seem fair to those of us who
have little if any choice over paying our taxes.
It's perhaps hardly surprising that although Osborne sometimes talks tough
on chasing up companies that operate in the UK but manage not to pay tax here,
there has been very little actual action to close loopholes and chase up offenders.
This was a peaceful protest and the police simply stood and watched, though
we might feel it something of a waste of public funds that there seemed to
be at least twice as many of them as protesters, and that some of them were
continuing their patrols for at least an hour after Class War had left.
Osborne's Nightmare Cuts
Westminster, London. Tue 24 Nov 2015
Lindsey German speaks and Sam Fairbairn listens at Downing
On the night before George Osborne's Autumn Statement which will cut billions
from welfare while increasing the spending on warfare, the People's Assembly
marched in protest from Trafalgar Square to a rally at Downing St.
Nine protesters put on plastic 'heads' of George Osborne to hold up the letters
N. I, G, H, T, M, A. R and E, sometimes in that order, for photographers in
a dark area of Trafalgar Square, and then behind the People's Assembly 'End
Austerity Now' banner at the front of the march as it formed up in Trafalgar
Square for the short march to Downing St.
Opposite Downing St there was a rally with speakers including Yannis Gourtsoyannis
of the National BMA Junior Doctors Committee, Green Party Deputy Leader Amelia
Womack, Lindsey German of Stop the War, Labour MP for East Leeds Richard Burgon,
CND Chair Kate Hudson, Paula Peters of DPAC, Andy from Momentum and John Rees,
Romayne Phoenix and Sam Fairbairn of the Peoples Assembly.
Class War at the Ripper 'Museum'
Cable St, London. Sat 21 Nov 2015
Class War protesters hold banner in masks of the owner
of this tacky tourist attraction
Class War protested again outside the Jack the Ripper tourist attraction
in Cable St, which they say is not a museum but a celebration of brutal attacks
on women and should be closed down. Cosmo sang protest songs as protesters
danced with banners.
Class War continued their series of protests against the Jack the Ripper
'Museum' which celebrates the horrific acts of 'Jack the Ripper', almost certainly
Montague Druitt who drowned himself in the Thames shortly after the last of
the murders. The museum is a part of an industry which has set itself up around
them, doing its best to build up doubt and uncertainty.
Reading the reports in the press (for
example) about what is actually on show inside the so-called museum, it
seems clear that the exhibits celebrate the work of an insane serial killer
who ripped open the bodies of his victims, removing the uterus and heart,
and are trying to make a profit from the sensationalisation of his hideous
There was a little theatre about the protest, with many of those taking part
wearing masks with the face of the Museum owner, some with comments about
him added. But of course it was peaceful if lively, and the arrival of singer/guitarist
Cosmo really made it memorable. The three songs he performed were appropriate
and raised everyone's spirits, and even the police were obviously enjoying
Everyone except perhaps 'museum' owner Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe and his partner
Julian Pino who had been left to face the protest from inside the 'museum'.
He added an element of mirth by apparently repeatedly phoning '999' during
the protest; eventually one of the officers had to go inside to tell him that
the police were there and that the protest was both peaceful and lawful.
There was another rather amusing incident, when a man who had obviously rehearsed
his role came up to complain to Class War about the protest. Why, he asked,
were they protesting against a business that was bringing investment to an
area that was so obviously in need of it. He claimed to be a local resident,
but was unknown to those at the protest who have lived in the area for many
years. Perhaps investment in this area is a good thing, but certainly not
investment in businesses as reprehensible as this. It was hard to avoid the
conclusion that this was an intervention prompted and possibly funded by the
owner of this tacky tourist attraction, which noticeably attracted no customers
while the protest was taking place. If the protests don't close it down, commercial
failure should do so.
Homes for All against social cleansing
Leyton, London. Sat 21 Nov 2015
'Fred & John Towers Not For Sale' reads a banner
that residents dance with on the march
A march from Abbots Park to a rally in the Centre of Walthamstow by Waltham
Forest Housing Action called for an end to evictions and for capping of rents
and a massive increase in social housing as only 400 of 12,000 homes planned
in Walthamstow in the next 5 years are for low earners despite a council waiting
list of over 20,000 families.
The event included many groups concerned with housing in the area which has
similar problems to most of London, with 'regeneration' pricing local people
out of London and new properties being built which are beyond the reach of
those in the many lower paid and middle-income jobs which are essential for
the city to run. Average rents in the area are much higher than the maximum
set by housing benefit
Among those backing the march and speaking at the rally in the park before
it moved off were teachers; as an NUT speaker pointed out low public sector
pay rises in recent years combined with rising house prices and private sector
rents mean that teachers can no longer afford to come to live in London. Other
essential workers are also in the same position, and the march was led by
the Fire Brigades Union's fire engine, which also provided a platform for
Others who spoke before the march set off included Linda Taafe of the TUSC
and Secretary of Waltham Forest Trades Council and Green Party Deputy Leader
Dr Shahrar Ali. Among the groups with banners were the residents of Residents
of Fred Wigg and John Walsh towers on the edge of Wanstead Flats in Leytonstone.
The 234 social housing units on the site will only be replaced by 160 and
new private flats will be sold to raise £30 million.
Waltham Forest also has twice the eviction rate of the average London borough
and Unite Community Waltham Forest and others in Waltham Forest Housing Action
are advice and sharing campaigns on welfare benefits and organising eviction
The only real solution to London's housing crisis is a crash programme to
build more genuinely affordable housing - which means council housing. Relatively
few of the workers that London needs can afford the £500,000 homes and
£1500 per calender month rents that the private sector provides.
Kingston-upon-Thames, London. Thu 19 Nov 2015
Molly and Myrtle add a little fun to the event in the
Kingston is a major shopping centre, and Christmas the main shopping festival
of the year was celebrated with the switching on of the Christmas lights and
the opening of the Christmas market in the town centre. Though apart from
a few more lights and some largely bad music, Christmas trading doesn't seem
to be a great deal different to the rest of the year. And fortunately there
is at least one decent pub in the market area; this was an event which required
There were a few special events taking place around the town centre, and
a lot of people had come to the event in the hope of being entertained, though
entertainment seemed a little thin on the ground. There seemed to be more
council people with clipboards taking surveys than anything else on the streets.
Kingston isn't a place I much like, though it has a good local museum, and
produced one of the more intriguing figures in nineteenth century photography,
the notably eccentric Edweard Muybridge, who emigrated to California where
he took the first pictures of figures in motion with a series of cameras tripped
by a galloping horse at Palo Alto, was tried for murder and made some grand
images of dramatic landscapes in what became one of the US's best-known national
parks - where later Ansel Adams also made his name.
And back in 2007, I had a show at Kingston Museum together with
Paul Baldesare and Mike Seaborne, Another
London. It was hard work then to find some images from Kingston to include,
though 5 of my 26
on the web site include three from Kingston as well as two from Surbiton
and one from New Malden, also in the London Borough of Kingston. Two however
were from Kingston carnival, bought in from more inner areas of London. Kingston
itself still clings to its Surrey roots, with the Surrey county offices still
MfJ 'Set Her Free' protest at Yarl's Wood
Yarl's Wood, nr Bedford. Sat 7 Nov 2015
Women imprisoned in Yarl's Wood come to the window to
greet the protesters
Movement for Justice protesters waved and shouted at the women inside
the prison, calling for an end to racist immigration detention. The prisoners
came to the windows and joined in the protest. Ladders were used to put a
large banner on the fence.
The gates to the Business Park were closed to the protesters and to get to
the Yarl's Wood immigration prison we had to walk along a public footpath
for around half a mile. The gate to the field adjoining the prison fence had
been left open and unguarded to allow the protesters access, and they marched
in as women inside shouted greetings and waved from the upper floor windows.
The windows only open an inch or two, but some women managed to hold posters
through the gap while others waved towels or clothing. One read 'We came to
seek Refuge. Not to be locked up' and another 'We are from torture. We Need
The prison fence is around 20ft tall. The first 10 foot is solid metal, but
above that is another 10 ft of mesh through which we could see the women by
climbing up a slope in the field a few yards back from the fence.
Down at the fence, the fence is all you can see. but some of the protesters
were able to make a great deal of noise by banging and kicking the metal fence.
A large group of protesters arrived dressed in black and masked, carrying
large banners, one reading 'No Borders No Nations Stop Deportations' and a
larger one with the message 'Shut Down Yarl's Wood and all detention centres'.
They used poles to hook a couple of flexible ladders over the top of the fence
and climbed up to take this long banner up to the top of the fence.
While this was happening there were a couple of tremendous downpours. The
ground by the fence had already been waterlogged, and now became a greasy
mess of ridges with long puddles in the dips between. I put up an umbrella
to try and keep dry and working, but the rain still got inside one of my two
cameras. The lens steamed up a little, but later I found there were actual
small drops on the sensor which ruined many of my pictures, though later I
was able to crop or retouch some. I wasn't able to see this was happening
because the view was so steamed up, and it was only clear to see when the
lens had dried out. It's not something I've seen before.
After these two massive showers the sun came out, which started to dry us
all off. The protest continued, with a loudspeaker system conveying the campaigners'
speeches and chanting to those inside as well as the protesters who were spread
widely across the field along the length of the wing (one of three parallel
wings in the prison.) We got to hear those inside too, both to hear them joining
in the chanting of 'Detention Centres - Close them Down' and other slogans
and also at greater length when some were able to talk via mobile phone. Some
of the phones used outside had a line out socket which gave a much clearer
link than using the phone speaker at previous protests.
A few days after the protest, the courts refused to allow the government
to appeal against the ruling that 'detained fast track', a system expressly
designed to make it difficult or impossible for asylum seekers to prove their
case, was illegal. Bit by bit the campaign against the racist immigration
system is making its point.
MFJ Meet Outside Yarl's Wood
Twinwoods Business Park, nr Bedford. Sat 7 Nov 2015
MfJ campaigners shout for immigration detention centres
to be closed down
Around a thousand Movement for Justice campaigners met up on Thurleigh Rd
outside Twinwoods Business Centre before marching to Yarl's Wood to protest
in front of detention prison calling for it all all others to be shut down.
Refugees and asylum seekers deserve humane treatment not imprisonment.
It took quite a while for the coaches from all around the country- including
8 from London (and others came by train to Bedford before getting a coach
from the station) to arrive on the wide verge at the front of the business
estate. Yarl's Wood detention centre is at the back of the estate, a former
wartime air station.
While we were waiting for everyone to arrive there was a lively rally with
a great deal of dancing, singing and chanting, keeping everyone's spirits
high, and keeping us warm as a chilly wind with occasional spots of rain swept
across the open site on top of a high plateau.
Students at Home Office and BIS
Westminster, London, Wed 4 Nov 2015
Black bloc protest with flares outside the Home Office
calling for no borders
From Parliament Square, the national march by students for free education
went on to the Home Office and Dept of Business, Innovation & Skills,
where a black clad block charged the mass of police protecting the building,
but were forcefully repelled.
There was coloured smoke in the air when I reached the Home Office, catching
up with the protest just as those at the front were moving off. The black
bloc, with a large police escort, continued to protest with more flares for
a few minutes, until moving off to catch up.
The march stopped next outside the Dept of Business, Innovation & Science,
which is now responsible for the universities which are no longer seen by
government as a part of education. I photographed the students standing around
outside the BIS building when I heard a roar and turned to see the black bloc
charging the line of police in an attempt to enter the BIS.
It was something of a half-hearted attempt, with most of those behind the
front couple of rows simply standing back and watching, and not unsurprisingly
the police line held. Others then joined in, but police reinforcements soon
arrived and after a few minutes of standing back and staring at each other
through some red smoke the black bloc attempted to move off down the road,
but were stopped by a line of police.
They began to push their way along the road but were then charged from the
side by a more disciplined group of around 40 police, trapping a several photographers
and peaceful protesters who received minor injuries before the police pulled
back for another stand-off between them and the students over a road now littered
with broken 'book' placards. This time the smoke was yellow.
The students made another attempt to march away down the road and were stopped
by a line of police across the road. Over half of the student marchers had
already moved on past this, but most of those stopped were still entirely
peaceful protesters, who asked politely to go through the line but were stopped.
I tried to go through showing my press card but was refused several times.
I was told by one officer I would be let through if I showed my card at the
end of the line, but they would not do so, and when I went back and told him
this he asked me to duck under his arm and I did so.
I joined the others who were watching the line and the students behind it,
taking a picture or two, but they were making no attempt to break through,
just standing around and I moved on to photograph some of the other marchers
further down Victoria St. Deciding I was tired and it was time for me to go
home I turned down a side street and as I walked away heard a lot of noise
and turned to see the students who had been confined running down Victoria
St to continue their march, having broken through the police line. I decided
not to follow them.
'Welcome Home Shaker' celebration
Parliament Square, London. Wed 4 Nov 2015
Ray Silk from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign was with
others in Parliament Square
Campaigners from the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign who mounted a weekly vigil
for his release opposite Parliament every Wednesday when Parliament was sitting
today held a celebration in Parliament Square to welcome him home.
I stopped briefly to talk and photograph them as the student march went on
past Parliament on its way to the Home Office.
Free Education - No Barriers, Borders or Business
Malet St to Parliament Sq, London. Wed 4 Nov 2015
The march forms up on Malet St
A march in London by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC)
protested against the abolition of maintenance grants, calling for free education
without fees and huge student debts and an end to turning higher education
into a market system impoverishing staff and students.
There were a number of speeches in Malet St, where the march formed up including
those by Shadow Chancellor John McDonald and Antonia Bright of Movement for
Justice. As well as the issues of student fees and loans, the march also called
for an end to borders and the scapegoating of immigrants.
Shortly before the march moved off it was joined by around a hundred black
clad and masked students in an autonomous bloc towards the rear of the march.
At there front were a 'book bloc', a line of protesters with large polystyrene
padded posters with the names of left wing and anarchist classic books on
them or slogans such as 'Rise, Riot, Revolt.
The march moved off going through Bedford Square and down to High Holborn
where it turned west and then took Shaftesbury Ave and the Charing Cross Rd
to Trafalgar Square.
A few flares were lit by the autonomous bloc on the Charing Cross Rd, and
by them and others on Whitehall, but the march proceeded peaceful to Parliament
Square, where I left it for a few minutes to photograph another event.
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