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Shut Down Yarl's Wood 14

Yarl's Wood immigration prison, Bedford. Sat 21 Jul 2018

Protesters kick the fence and make a lot of noise
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Around a hundred campaigners, including many former detainees march to Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre to protest together with those held inside, mainly women, against the shameful racist UK immigration system

Many of them are kept locked up inside for many months or ever years, indefinite detention, because the Home Office refuses to believe them or properly investigate their cases.

Investigations and reports have condemned again and again appalling conditions under which people are held in this and other centres run by private companies such as SERCO, with detainees refused their human and civil rights, assaulted, sexually harassed and assaulted, denied proper medical treatment, poorly fed and forced to work for £1 an hour on menial tasks.

The protesters saw some of the women waving from windows and heard their stories over a mobile phone link, and were able to hear and join with them chanting inside for freedom and for Yarl's Wood to be closed down. There were a number of speeches from protesters, almost all from former detainees.

The protest was the 14th organised in support of the women of Yarl's Wood by Movement for Justice. Unfortunately it was smaller than the previous protests as a number of groups have decided not to take part in protests by MfJ after a former member of the group made a complaint about the way she had been treated by them. However justified her personal complaint, it revealed little if anything about the group that was not already public knowledge, and MfJ has played a major role in protests against our racist immigration detention system, and still seems to be supported by the former detainees who have always played a leading role in the protests both here and at Harmondsworth, and in actions to prevent deportations.
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Whitehall rally against extreme-right

Westminster, London. Sat 14 Jul 2018

Protesters raise fists to show they are prepared to fight the fascists in London
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Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism held a rally in Whitehall a couple of hundred yards from the right-wing 'Free Tommy' protest near Downing St, with police keeping the area between the two protests clear.

Unfortunately although police had allowed the extreme right to have a large stage and amplification system in the road, they stopped Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism bringing their lorry with its sound system and stage into Whitehall. The rally continued with a small sound system but only a few hundreds of those close to the front of the protest could hear the speeches.
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Anti-Fascists & Police harassed by hooligans

Westminster, London. Sat 14 Jul 2018

Police arrest one man in Parliament Square

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Right-wing protesters harass the anti-fascist network protesters who had marched from the International Brigade Memorial on the South Bank across Westminster Bridge in protest against the 'Free Tommy' protests against the jailing of Tommy Robinson for contempt of court for actions which could have stopped the trial of a grooming gang - an offence to which he pleaded guilty.

Police removed some right wing protesters who had infiltrated Parliament Square to keep them safe, and then fought and stopped others who were trying to cause trouble.

Police horses charged some of the right wing and I saw one man being handcuffed, and other arrests were reported. The anti-fascists stood their ground and repelled the few who evaded the police until police removed them
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Against Tommy Robinson & Trump

Old Palace Yard, London. Sat 14 Jul 2018
People hold Socialist Worker placards as the march began
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Protesters gathered in Old Palace Yard to peacefully oppose the protest by right-wing groups supporting the campaign to free jailed former EDL leader Tommy Robinson and support President Trump.

The extreme-right wrongly claim that Robinson, jailed for contempt of court for interference with a grooming gang court case that could have prevented it going ahead, is a martyr jailed for 'free speech', and their previous protest in London involved Nazi salutes, violence and virulent Islamophobia.

After some opening speeches the organisers tried to march behind the Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism lorry with its sound system and stage o a further rally in Whitehall, but police would not allow the lorry to proceed, and they had to march without it, making it impossible for most of the protesters to hear the speeches.
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Croydon Pride Procession

Croydon, London. Sat 14 Jul 2018

Rainbow colours on flags and banners
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Several hundred people paraded through the centre of Croydon on their way to the third Croydon Pridefest, sponsored by Croydon Council, in Wandle Park.

Many were in colourful dress and there were banners, flags, placards, posters and unicorns. The free festival aims to promote LGBT+ equality and diversity in Croydon, and is London's second largest Pride festival.

Following the disruption by anti-Trans activists at London Pride, the parade gave the Trans People Across London (TRANSPALS) banner a prominent position behind the Croydon Pridefest banner. The parade had none of the domination by corporate groups that mars the larger festival for many in the gay community.
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Massive protest against Trump's Visit

London. Fri 13 Jul 2018

Indigenous flag and a dinosaur on Upper Regent Street packed with people waiting to march
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People marched down Regent St from the BBC on their way to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Estimates put the number of people marching through London in this massive protest against the visit by President Trump as around a quarter of a million.

The march was organised by 'Together Against Trump' and included both the Stop Trump Coalition begun by Owen Jones in February with grassroots campaigners, trade unions, NGOs and politicians and 'Stand Up to Trump', which included various anti-war and anti-racist orgnisations allied to the SWP.
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Soho parties to protest Trump's visit

Soho, London. Fri 13 Jul 2018
The statue of Liberty was among those at the party at Soho Radio
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Soho Radio celebrated free speech and peaceful protest with a marathon 'Revolution Day' protest party against Trump's visit, starting around midday on the street outside and expected to end at midnight, though many of those taking part were intending to join the main protest in late afternoon.

Elsewhere in Soho others made preparations to join the two anti-Trump marches while a TV crew took a not quite look-alike Trump and the first lady around the area.
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'Bring The Noise' Women march against Trump

London. Fri 13 Jul 2018

Women hold placards at the start of the march close to the BBC
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Thousands of people, mainly women, came to the women's #BringTheNoise march against Trump, which met at the BBC to march to a rally in Parliament Square.

The march, organised by a small group of women, was intended as a day of joy, love, solidarity and resistance celebrating the diverse communities which make up our great city of London, standing together for Justice, Equality and Peace. It was against Trump and others whose agendas driven by desire for profit, greed, power & domination are 'wreaking havoc - fuelling conflict; displacing vast numbers from their homes; waging war on our rights; destroying our planet.'

The event was supported by a huge range of women's groups, listed as: Women for Refugee Women, Southall Black Sisters, Stonewall, Hope Not Hate, Pride in London, GreenPeace, Liberty, Amnesty UK, Inquest, Help Refugees, Nisa Nashim Jewish and Muslim Women’s, Network, Environmental Justice Foundation, Gendered Intelligence, Dimensions, Dahlia Project, Abortion Support Network, Fawcett Society, Operation Black Vote, Reclaim, Safe Passage, Muslim Women’s Network UK , Team Future, Best for Britain, She Speaks We Hear, Women in Leadership, End Violence Against Women coalition, Democrats Abroad UK, ActionAid UK, Verve, Oxfam GB, Fourth Wave feminists, Women For Europe, Making Herstory, Everyday Sexism , Migrants Organise, Migrant Resource Centre , The Equality Trust, Women’s Voice, Religions for Peace UK Women of Faith Network.

The organisers of the 'Together Against Trump' protest later in the day had tried to get the women's march to combine with them, but they had resisted, wanting to keep their message clear and not have it subsumed into a general anti-Trump event organised by political groups such as the SWP and its related organisations.
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'Trump: Climate Genocide' Giant banner

Westminster, London. Thu 12 Jul 2018

The huge banner was dropped over the river wall opposite Parliament
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Climate activists marked Trump's visit to the UK by dropping a giant banner 100 meters long on the river wall of the Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament. The banner carried the message 'TRUMP: CLIMATE GENOCIDE' in fluorescent orange letters around 15ft high.

They say he is wilfully ignoring the clear science on climate change and threatening the existence of human life on earth by undermining if not reversing the US and global efforts to tackle the greatest threat that humanity now faces, the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate. His actions condemn billions to death and commit a crime against humanity.
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Noise protest against Trump

Regent's Park, London. Thu 12 Jul 2018
Protesters make clear that Trump is NOT welcome as close to the US Ambassador's house as they can
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Hundreds of campaigners with drums, whistles, megaphones, pots and pans, recordings of the cries of migrant children and some very loud shouting attempt to make their feelings about President Trump clear to him by their protest close to the US Ambassador's residence, Winfield House, at the north east corener of Regent's Park.

A helicopter flew him there from Stansted airport and then flew him out again for dinner with Theresa May at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. The protesters aimed to keep up a wall of noise all night as he was flying back to sleep there.

A large security presence with a high fence kept them at some distance from the residence, but it seems likely that Trump will have been aware of them as he flew in and out and before reaching the presumably well double or triple-glazed security of Winfield House. Though he will probably have convinced himself they were welcoming him and dismissed the TV and newspaper coverage as 'Fake News!'
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UoL #LeadingWomen protest hypocrisy

Senate House, University of London. Tue 10 July 2018

Women speak and hold placards on the steps of Stewart House
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Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) protest at Senate House supporting outsourced women workers in the University of London who are demanding equal rights with those directly employed by the university.

While the university holds events in favour of women's rights in its #LeadingWomen season which aims ‘to break down the barriers women still face in education and the workplace today’, it is still denying decent terms & conditions to migrant and BAME women who work there, by using outsourcing companies which offer minimal rights, often with bullying management and zero hours contracts.

The protest forced the university to cancel one of the events in its #LeadingWomen series planned for tonight and Ayesha Hazarika and Catherine Mayer who would have been speaking came instead to speak at the protest. Along with other employees the women are demanding to be directly employed by the university; although the university has stated hat outsourcing will end, it refuses to give these workers the dignity of any concrete details or a clear timescale.
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US Embassy protest says NO to Trump

Nine Elms, London. Mon 9th Jul 2018

Jean Rathbone holds up posters to passing drivers including one with the word 'HOOT'
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The week of action against President Trump's visit began with a protest outside the US Embassy in Nine Elms hosted by Momentum Wandsworth.

Speakers reminded us that in addition to all his other faults, Trump has described Wandsworth where the new embassy is as 'lousy' and 'horrible', and refused to go there even before it was obvious he could go nowhere in London without meeting huge crowds in protest.

Wandsworth has a long and proud radical tradition, and the embassy site was the home of one of the leading suffragettes, Charlotte Despard. Two Labour councillors were among the speakers but local Labour MP Marsha De Cordova who had hoped to be there was unable to leave Parliament because of the feverish atmosphere there over ministerial resignations.

One man filming the event for a right-wing organisation attempted to interrupt the proceedings, butting in to ask questions of the speaker in the middle of a speech. He was challenged by protesters, but the organisers asked them to allow him to continue filming as it was his legal right to do so, but he was prevented from further interruptions. Although he said - when pressed - that he was from the Sun newspaper, his behaviour was much more like that of 'reporters' from extreme right fake news organisations such as Breitbart, who deliberately try to provoke people at protests.
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Trump is not expected to visit the embassy and will only be in London for an overnight stay at the Ambassador's residence in Regents Park, his schedule planned to avoid the many planned protests so far as is possible.

 

 

Vauxhall & Nine Elms

Vauxhall & Nine Elms, London. Mon 9th Jul 2018

Dark clouds and low sunlight dramatize the view downstream from Vauxhall Bridge
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I went to photograph a protest against Trump's forthcoming visit outside the US Embassy (which he was not intending to visit), and took a few pictures as I walked there beside the Thames from Vauxhall.

After the protest finished I had around an hour to spare before I could use my 'Super Off-Peak' ticket, so walked slowly through the riverside area on my way back to Vauxhall station.
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NHS at 70 - Save St Helier Hospital

Sutton, London. Sat 7 Jul 2018

People march with banners through the pedestrianised High St in Sutton
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Keep Our St Helier Hospital (KOSHH) campaigners against the closure of acute facilities at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals in south London celebrated the 70th birthday of the NHS with a march from Sutton to a rally in front of St Helier Hospital.

The Epsom and St Helier Trust want to close A&E, Maternity, Paediatrics, Emergency Medicine and Surgery, Intensive Care, Coronary Care and the Cancer Centre at one or both hospitals and sell off the sites. The closures are prompted by government cuts which call for huge savings by the trust, and would leave a wide swathe of south London and around half a million people without proper access to hospital services.

People would have to travel longer distances through increasingly congested roads to reach full hospital services at St Georges Tooting and elsewhere, a journey which might take 20 minutes when traffic was light but much longer when roads were congested; even in ambulances there would be more dead on arrival or whose condition had seriously deteriorated.

People on Sutton High St clapped and cheered the march, and some joined it, at least for a short distance. THe marchers were tired at the end of the two mile march in blistering heat, but were revived by a welcome from the National Health Singers, and there were some short speeches and a die-in.
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Free Ebru Ozkan Vigil

Turkish Embassy, London. Fri 6 Jul 2018

A campaigner reads out a statement calling for the release of Ebru Ozkan
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Inminds human rights group hold a vigil outside the Turkish Embassy in London to urge the Turkish government to put pressure on Israel to release 27 years old Turkish national Ebru Ozkan.

She was arrested when boarding a flight home on 11th June from Tel Aviv after a 4 day holiday group tour, and has now been held without charge for 24 days accused of "threatening Israel’s security and having links with terrorist groups."

Although she is Turkish she will be tried in the miliary courts reserved for Palestinians, which rubber-stamp 99.7% of cases with a guilty verdict. Campaigners beleive she has been tortured to try and gain a conviciton and she has now been transferred to Israel's notorious HaSharon prison where long term Palestinian women political prisoners are held and have to endure beatings, insults, threats, sexually explicit harassment and sexual violence, with humiliating strip searches used as punishment by the Israeli guards.

The cells are overcrowded, dirty and infected with rodents and cockroaches with a total absence of basic hygiene. Windows are closed and covered so that hardly any air or daylight can enter, and the heat is insufferable. The food is of terrible quality, often containing insects & worms, and often there is not enough for all the prisoners.
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Bangladesh Quota Reform Movement

Altab Ali Park, London. Fri 6 Jul 2018

A speaker raises his hand to make a point - repeated in his shadow
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A protest in Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel by Universal Voice for Justice, UK deplored the attack on the Quota Reform Movements leaders and general students at University of Dhaka.

Protests in Bangladesh in April had called on the government to change the recruitment system for government posts that mean only 44% of posts are selected on merit. A protest at Dhaka University in April was attacked by police with tear gas, baton charges and water cannon, after which they were attacked by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists led by General Secretary Motahar Hossain Prince, with more than 160 protesters being injured.

This led to widespread protests at universities in Bangladesh in the following days. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed criticsed the students for the disruption they caused an angrily said the quotas would be abandoned, but it remains unclear exactly what changes have been made.
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Legal right to use cannabis

Parliament Square, London. Fri 6 Jul 2018

Campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament on the march to Old Palace Yard
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Members of the group 'We The Undersigned Have a Legal Right to use Cannabis' met in Parliament Square and marched to a protest in Old Palace Yard in support of Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn's Private Member's Bill to allow the medical use of cannabis was expected to be debated this afternoon. Objections by MPs prevented the debate and it was pushed back until October.

Public awareness and support for the medicinal use of cannabis has increased greatly because of the widespread publicity given to the incredible recovery from near death from severe epilepsy of 11-year-old Billy Caldwell and the extreme difficulties put in the way of his treatment by the Home Office.

Many of those attending the protest were medical users, growing their own weed to deal with conditions including PTSD, ADHD, glaucoma, Parkinsons, depression, MS, fibromyalgia, Chron's disease, chronic pain, anxiety, migraine...

The event was proceeding peacefully when a man rushed up and punched one of the protesters, Jeff, in the face. He was quickly and efficiently tackled by police and arrested for assault. Others at the event identified him as Derek White from Dublin who has been accused by them on online forums of selling fake cannabis oil for medical use.

Much of the opposition to the decriminalisation of cannabis now comes from pharmaceutical companies who would like to make money from the regulated supply of cannabis oil, and the UK is now the world's largest legal grower for this purpose.

Campaigners say that far better results can be obtained by using different strains of the plant which can be matched to individual needs, and these include some that produce none of the psychotic side-effects which have been used as an argument against legalisation of a substance generally agreed to be far less dangerous than alcohol.
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Refuse plans to destroy the Elephant

Southwark Council, London. Tue 3 Jul 2018

Security stop a UAL's campaigns officer Papaya Guthrie from entering the council offices
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Protesters outside Southwark Council Offices called on the Council Planning Committee to reject the plans by tax avoiding property giant Delancey and University of the Arts London to demolish the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre and replace it with luxury housing and a new building for the London College of Communication.

Security and police stopped a token attempt by a student trying to get into the building after the meeting had started, but others had earlier gone in to attend the meeting.

Previous protests by local residents had forced the council to defer approval and the developers responded with minor changes to the plans but they still involve removing the working class and largely Latin traders and wider local community from the Elephant, in what is clearly social cleansing and further gentrification of Southwark.

The revised plans include only a low percentage of social housing and fail to meet local demands for affordable retail units, compensation for all traders and meaningful involvement and accountability for the people who live, work and study in the Elephant.

Later we heard that the planning committee had narrowly passed the plans, 4 votes to 3. But the fight to stop this development continues.
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