Archive for October, 2022

Ripper Selfies, Custody Deaths, Halloween Skate & Poor Yorick

Monday, October 31st, 2022

A varied set of events from seven years ago on Saturday 31st October 2015

Ripper ‘Selfies with Dead Women’ – Cable St, Sat 31 Oct 2015

The Fourth Wave: London Feminist Activists (LFA) 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.

LFA came in cat masks and the Sisters of Perpetual Resistance came in their 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 also brought a decidely unsexy blowup doll with a mask of Ripper shop owner Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe with a Fawcett Society t-shirt ‘This is what a feminist looks like’, the word feminist crossed out and replaced in red by the word ‘CAPITALIST’.

Among those who spoke as well as the event organiser were Kate Smurthwaite and Becky Warnock whose petition against the s-called museum had got over 12,000 signatures.

Ripper ‘Selfies with Dead Women’

UFFC Annual Remembrance Procession – Whitehall, Sat 31 Oct 2015

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.

This procession has taken place each year since1999 and you can see my pictures from this year when it took place on 29th October 2022.

In 2015 the march, led by family members holding banners, made its way in silence down Whitehall before erupting into a noisy protest at Downing St.

Here there were speeches from family members including 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 small group of family members took a letter into Downing St while the rally continued. Although as t-shirts worn by many stated there have been ‘1518 deaths in police custody since 1990′ including many with clear evidence of beating and murder, not a single case has yet resulted in any justice. Police and authorities have prevented proper investigation of cases, committed perjury and obstructed the course of justice to protect the officers concerned.

More at UFFC Annual Remembrance Procession 2015.

Halloween Skate 2015 London – Hyde Park Corner, Sat 31 Oct 2015

On a very much lighter level I met with London Friday Night Skate at Hyde Park where they were to begin their annual Halloween skate in varied Halloween costumes.

I didn’t try to follow them after they left to skate their lengthy route through Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden to an after-party at a pub near Kings Cross.

Halloween Skate 2015 London

UVW Hamlet-themed Barbican Flash-mob – Barbican Centre, Sat 31 Oct 2015

Alas Poor Yorick Got No Sick Pay‘ was the message on the skull held up by the Cleaners union United Voices of the World as they staged a protest on the last night of a season there of Hamlet.

The were protesting for full payment of the living wage and sick pay for the cleaners there and and an end to the use of workfare in the centre. The cleaners are not directly employed by the Barbican and get far worse conditions of service and treatment than directly employed workers from the outsourcing company which the Barbican has a contract with.

The Shakespearian theme was continued in posters such as ‘To Be or Not to Be… Paid a Living Wage‘ and ‘To Be or Not to Be… Paid Sick Pay‘ while those theatre-goers seeing the protest were urged to tweet photos and videos with hashtag #Hamlet.

Among the protesters were Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Sandy Nicoll, currently suspended SOAS Branch Secretary, and there were banners ‘Boycott Workfare’ and from ‘Unite the Resistance’ as well the UVW banner. Several from Class War had also come to support the cleaners.

There had been a couple of police officers present when I arrived on time for the protest, but they had disappeared well before the UVW turned up around 20 minutes late. Barbican security staff made some attempts to move the protesters on, but I imagine they are also outsources on lousy terms and conditions and that their hearts were not really in it.

Eventually after a number of speeches and some noisy chanting the police returned and talked with the UVW General Secretary Petros Elia who was leading the protest. He told them that the protesters were about to leave before tonight’s Hamlet was due to start and continue the protest outside the main entrance, and they then did so.

Outside the Barbican we joined some of the cleaners who work in the Barbican who had stayed outside and the protest continued with a rally in the street.

UVW Hamlet-themed Barbican Flash-mob

Court, Wash-House, Baths and Camberwell Grove

Sunday, October 30th, 2022

The previous post on the walk I made on 27th January 1989 was Camberwell Green to Addington Square 1989

Brisbane St: Camberwell Green Magistrate's Court, D'Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-61
Brisbane St: Camberwell Green Magistrate’s Court, D’Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-61

I walked back down from Addington Square towards Camberwell GGreen stopping to photograph this view of the back of the Camberwell Green Magistrate’s Court, hiding the sun behing a large tree on the corner of the path and the road, though some of its bright winter light has caused some flare which I find rahter atmospherice.

Camberwell Green Magistrate's Court, D'Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-62
Camberwell Green Magistrate’s Court, D’Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-62

Moving forwards and into some shade enabled me to eliminate any flare but still to take advantage of the light and shade to clearly show the three-dimensional nature of the building. Little has yet changed, though there may well be some differences as the building is redeveloped.

Camberwell Public Wash-Houses, Harvey Rd,  Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-63
Camberwell Public Wash-Houses, Harvey Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-63

Camberwell Public Wash-Houses in Harvey Rd are at the back of the Camberwell Public Baths, an early public baths, designed by Henry Spalding and Alfred WS Cross and completed in 1891. Although much around them has changed they remain much the same and are now in use as part of Arco Academy, a sports specialist alternative provision school.

Camberwell Public Baths, Artichoke Place, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-64
Camberwell Public Baths, Artichoke Place, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-64

I walked around the block down Kimpton Rd into Camberwell Church St and then went up the delightfully named Artichoke Place to photograph the front of the Camberwell Public Baths, designed by Henry Spalding and Alfred WS Cross in a Flemish Renaissance style and completed in 1891. Now called Camberwell Leisure Centre the Grade II listed baths were saved from closure by a local campaign, refurbished and reopened in 2011.

Camberwell Green Magistrate's Court, D'Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-65
Camberwell Green Magistrate’s Court, D’Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-65

The lighting with low winter sun was very different to when I had photographed the Magistrates Court earlier in the day, so I decided to go back and take another picture from D’Eynsford Rd.

Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-52
7-11, Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-52

I walked back to Camberwell Church St and along it to Camberwell Grove where these well-proportioned nineteenth century houses were also in a good light. Something that particularly caught my eye was a blind window. It was not just the bricked up window often found in properties built before window tax was abolished, but had rudimentary columns and a keystone of a doorway. The recessed doors and window of the property to the right were also of interest. The street was originally called Walnut Tree Grove but the name was soon changed.

Chamberlain Cottages, Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-55
Chamberlain Cottages, Camberwell Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1e-55

Chamberlain Cottages off the east side of Camberwell Grove between Nos 15 and 17 is described by estate agents as peaceful gated mews and a beautifully kept enclave of enchanting period cottages.

Joseph Chamberlain (1796–1874) was a successful manufacturer who lived 188 Camberwell Grove. His son, also Joseph, was born there and at 18 moved to Birmingham to work at the screw factory owned by his father and uncle John Nettlefold, helping the business to become England’s most successful screw makers, producing two-thirds of those made in this country. Later he became one of the country’s best known politicians and a radical social reformer.

St Giles Camberwell is a little further to the east and can just be glimpsed over one of the cottages where the alley turns to the right. Another picture of it in the next post.

My posts on this walk on 27th January 1989 began at St George’s, Camberwell, Absolutely Board & Alberto. This walk will continue in a later post.

Camberwell Green to Addington Square 1989

Saturday, October 29th, 2022

My posts on this walk on 27th January 1989 began with the previous post at St George’s, Camberwell, Absolutely Board & Alberto where I ended at Camberwell Greeen.

Camberwell Green Magistrate's Court, D'Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-34
Camberwell Green Magistrate’s Court, D’Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-34

Walking across Camberwell Green I came to the Magistrates Court, built from 1965 and opened in 1971. It was closed in 2019 and has been sold to Criterion Capital for £13.5m – they plan to turn it into around 160 1,2 and 3 bedroom flats “Ideal for young professionals who want to live as well as work in Central London” with leisure and coworking space on the ground floor. So far it still looks fairly similar from the outside although the ground floor has been boarded up and the boards covered with graffiti.

But in front of it on what was previously a community orchard on council land, a new Camberwell Library was opened in November 2015. There had been considerable local opposition to the destruction of the orchard in 2013, but Camberwell had not had a permanent library since a V1 flying bomdb destroyed the Victorian Camberwell Central Library on Peckham Road in 1944.

Camberwell Green Magistrate's Court, D'Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-35
Camberwell Green Magistrate’s Court, D’Eynsford Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-35

In front of the Magistrate’s Court is this large ventilation tower, presumably for the two floors of underground parking below, though there may well be other underground facilities.

Camberwell Business Centre, Lomond Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-36
Camberwell Business Centre, Lomond Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-36

This Grade II listed early 19th century industrial building was, according to English Heritage a former Perfume Factory, though other sources suggest it was a former bakery. Quite likely both are correct. Jusst a few yards north from the Magistrates Court and is now a business centre with offices and light industry.

Beyond it is the also Grade II listed Bryanston House, an early 19th century large residence in the area, also now I think offices. Together the two buildings are Camberwell Business Centre.

Flats, Drayton House, Lomond Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-21
Flats, Drayton House, Lomond Grove, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-21

Drayton House, a maisonette block at 30-72 Lomond Grove was the last part of the Elmington Estate when it was built around 1960 and was around the last to be demolished in 2016-7, replaced by ‘Elmington Green’ development of largely market price flats in 2018.

The redevelopment of the estate began in 2002, and under this first phase almost 90% of those displaced from the estate were rehoused in the new flats, though many complained that the new buildings had smaller rooms and thinner walls that gave them little privacy. But in the next phase, “redevelopment became’regeneration'” and Southwark Council began a policy of social cleansing, with only a relatively small proportion of social housing in the new buildings. Things became even worse later, as Southwark Notes detail on their web site.

Faces, Doorway, Kitson Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-23
Faces, Doorway, Kitson Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-23

Faces, ferns, foliage on the capitals and worms – vermiculation – on the keyston of these doorways in Kitson Road, an attractive street parts of which face the south-west tip of Burgess Park, was described by Booth’s associates ten years after his orginal 1889 survey of London poverty in 1899 as “good working class”. These houses possibly date from around the 1880s.

Houses, Addington Square, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-26
Houses, Addington Square, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-26

I wrote more about Addington Square in a post about my previous walk. Almost all the houses in this square developed between 1810 and 1850 are Grade II listed. These houses are at the north-west of the square and the road going off between the houses here is also called Addington Square.

Addington Square, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-12
Addington Square, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-12

This view across the grassed area in the centre of the square shows the same houses in the distance with a few more at the right of picture. The fine trees are still growing.

My posts on this walk on 27th January 1989 began with part of St George’s, Camberwell, Absolutely Board & Alberto. This walk will continue in a later post.

Rail Fares, ISIS and Biofuels – 28 Oct 2014

Friday, October 28th, 2022

Fair Fares Petition – Westminster. Tue 28 Oct 2014

Eight years later problems with our rail system continue and no significant changes have been made. Rail is a textbook example of something which should be run as in integrated public service and privatisation has been an entirely predictable disaster, at least for taxpayers and particularly those who use the railways.

Campaigners met at the Dept of Transport in Horseferry Rd

It has of course been a bonanza for the companies that have run parts of the service, particularly the three large companies that own and hire out most of the rail carriages, engines and waggons. Three ROSCOs (Rolling stock leasing companies) – Porterbrook, Eversholt and Willow – own together 87% of the rolling stock – and have made huge profits for their shareholders while failing to invest a great deal in new rolling stock. They are almost entirely owned by German, Australian, Canadian and other multinationals, mostly registered in Luxembourg to evade tax.

Stephen Joseph OBE, executive director of the Campaign for Better Transport joins the protest

Probably most people now know that the companies that actually run the trains – Train Operating Companies or TOCs – are largely foreign owned, mostly by the nationalised railways of Germany, France and Holland, with a couple from Italy and one from China (Hong Kong.) We do now have three nationalised TOCs, ScotRail, Northern and Transport for Wales. So basically the railways proved a mechanism for our government to hand over large amount of our taxes to these foreign countries.

They stop to pose in Parliament Square

The Campaign for Better Transport protest on Tuesday 28th October 2014 was more simply about changes in the evening peak time fares introduced by Northern Rail, then I think run by Serco-Abellio, a subsidiary of the Dutch state railway. These changes have particularly hit shift and part-time workers who work irregular hours, resulting in a 167% increase for some. Other TOCs have since made similar changes – with the ‘Off-Peak’ fares no longer available on my line, having been replaced by much more restricted evening fares.

And then hand the petition to Rail Minister Claire Perry MP

Our whole incredibly complex fare system is also down to the fragmented privatisation, and often means people pay far more than necessary. Even the highly trained ticket office staff are often unable to find the cheapest fare, and machines and web services are often misleading.

Rail fares are now often ridiculously high, particularly for those unable to book in advance. It’s often cheaper to fly to America than take a train from one English city to another. Even the Advance fares (Introduced by British Rail before privatisation) limited to a specific train can be pretty huge, often several times the European fares for similar journey lengths. We need lower fares to encourage people to stop using cars and move to public transport.

More at Fair Fares Petition.

Kobane – Unite against Isis Drawing – Trafalgar Square, Tue 28 Oct 2014

Kurds chanted slogans against ISIS and in support of the defenders of Kobane around a giant pavement chalk drawing based on an agonised Statue of Liberty in front of London’s National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

More pictures at Kobane – Unite against Isis Drawing.

Biofuel picket Green Investment Bank Birthday – King Edward Street, Tue 28 Oct 2014

Protesters from Biofuelwatch and London Biomassive, some dressed as wise owls, picketed the second birthday celebrations of the Green Investment Bank at Bank of America Merrill Lynch against their funding of environmentally disastrous biomass and incineration projects.

The say the large-scale projects the bank funds are worse for the environment and for climate change than burning coal and urged the GIB to finance “low carbon sustainable solutions” instead of these “high-carbon destructive delusions.”

More at Biofuel picket Green Investment Bank Birthday.

Saturday 27th October 2007

Thursday, October 27th, 2022

One of my busier days in London was Saturday 27th October 2007, when I began with a trip to Hoxton to collect and take home some pictures from a group exhibition, then travelled back into the centre of London for a number of events. The main protest I covered was the annual UFFC march against deaths in custody, but there were also Kurds protesting against Turkish army attacks on them in Northern Iraq, campaigners calling for a Brexit referendum, an anti-abortion rally and peace protesters around Parliament where I also photographed a new statue in Parliament Square. I ended my working day with a Halloween Zombie Crawl.

Here’s what I wrote back in 2007, with minor corrections including normal capitalisation and some changes of tense – and I’ve included some headings and pictures. As usual there are many more pictures if you follow the links to My London Diary.

On saturday, everything was happening. I had to run around to start with to collect my unsold pictures from the City People show at the Juggler in Hoxton. Fortunately I’d sold one of my four pictures, so that made them easier to carry, but it was a rush to be back in the centre of London and I had to more or less miss the demonstrators who wanted a referendum on leaving the European Union.

Protest Against Custody Deaths – Trafalgar Square & Whitehall, Saturday 27 Oct, 2007

Instead I started at Trafalgar Square, where the annual event remembering those who have died in custody was taking place, organised by the UFFC, families and friends of those killed.

It’s an occasion that always shocks me by the sheer number of people who have died in such disgraceful or suspicious circumstances, in police cells, in prisons and elsewhere. It’s an event I sometimes find it hard to photograph, both emotionally and physically – thankfully autofocus works even when your eyes are filling with tears.
more pictures

Kurds Demand – Stop Turkey – Trafalgar Square, London. 27 October 2007

While that demo was getting ready to march, a large crowd of Kurds swarmed into Trafalgar Square and held a short rally, protesting against the Turkish government’s approval of incursions into Northern Iraq to attack the PKK there. Both the Kurds and the Armenians have suffered greatly at the hands of the Turks (who in turn have been rather screwed by the EU over Cyprus.)

It was a typically exuberant performance, and one that I enjoyed photographing, but rather a distraction from the family and friends event.
more pictures

Pro-referendum on Europe Rally – Old Palace Yard, Westminster. 27 October 2007

There seems to be hiatus in the UFFC demonstration, so I caught a bus down Whitehall. Walking along to Old Palace Yard I passed a few of the pro-referendum demonstrators, though some others had stayed to join in the anti-abortion protest.
a couple of pictures

Anti-Abortion (Pro-Life) Rally – Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Saturday 27 October, 2007

This was rather smaller than I’d expected, perhaps around 500 people, although it was the only event that made the BBC news bulletins I heard when I got home later in the day.
more pictures

Lloyd George – Parliament Square, London. Saturday October 27, 2007

I listened a little to the speeches, but then went to Parliament Square to take a look at the new statue of Lloyd George – which failed to impress me. Of course he was long before my time – although I did have a landlady as a student in Manchester who had worked as a secretary for him – but somehow I feel the statue trivialises him, looking rather like an enlarged version of a plastic figure you might find in a box of cornflakes rather than a statue of a Prime Minister.
another picture

Peace Train – Parliament Square, Westminster. Saturday October 27, 2007

The Peace Train is beginning to form a protest in Parliament Square and I go along to talk to them and take a few pictures.

I rejoin the ‘Famiilies and Friends’ march now making a considerable protest opposite Downing Street, where a delegation has permission to deliver a letter to the prime minister’s residence at No 10. It takes a lot of argument before the police let them in despite this.

For some reason the police decide not to allow those with press cards into the street in the normal way. I don’t like going in – the security checks are a nuisance and being restricted to a pen on the other side of the street is normally hopeless, but I think its a matter of principle that access should not be unreasonably prevented – as it was for this event, even if personally I don’t particularly want to take advantage of it.

By the time the deputation emerge, the mood on the street is getting rather angry. One young policeman is getting surrounded and insulted and is trying hard to ignore it. A few minutes later a motor-cyclist foolishly stays in the route of the march, and is soon surrounded by angry people. He has to be rescued by his colleagues.

There are police who are racist, who are thugs, who are bullies. Too many who have got away with murder, often thanks to covering up or a lack of diligence in investigation by their colleagues. If it were not so, there would be no demonstration. But there are also officers who do their best to carry out a difficult and necessary job in a decent, reasonable and even-handed way – even though they may sometimes get disciplined for doing so. Those who bear the brunt of considerable and understandable hate directed against the police at a demo like this are not necessarily the guilty.
more pictures

Crawl of the Dead IV – City and Southwark, London. Saturday October 27, 2007

It’s time for me to leave and make my way to the City of London, where this year the zombies are starting their walk at a pub on Ludgate Hill. I go into the pub and talk to some of them and take photographs, and am gratified to find that quite a few have seen my pictures from around Oxford Street last year.

By the time they emerge from the pub it is getting dark, and my flash by now is refusing to work at all. I have to make do either with available light (and there isn’t a lot) or the pretty useless camera built in flash, but I still manage to get a few decent pictures, even though some are rather noisier than I’d like.

There are quite a few people around as we go over the Millennium bridge, and more in front of Tate Modern, where zombies decide to play dead for a while. Then we visit the famous crack in the turbine hall, coming out towards the Founder’s arms, where I made my goodbyes and turned for home.

More pictures on all these on My London Diary:

against deaths in custody
kurds demand – stop turkey
for a euro-referendum
anti-abortion (pro-life) rally
lloyd george statue
peace train
crawl of the dead iv

NHS, Parental Leave & Fridays For Future

Wednesday, October 26th, 2022

Scrap the ICP Contract, Keep the NHS Public – Westminster, Fri 26 Oct 2018

Later on Friday 26th October 2018 Eleanor Smith’s private members bill calling for the scrapping of plans for Integrated Care Providers which break up the NHS into smaller business units which can be competed for by private sector organisations was due for its second reading.

Eleanor Smith MP

ICPs were planned by NHS England whose CEO Simon Stevens was previously a senior executive of the giant US healthcare and health insurance company United Health Group, to be a way for the backdoor privatisation of our National Health Service.

The rally outside parliament had already begun when I arrived. It’s expensive for me to use the trains in the rush hour and in any case I don’t like getting up early now, but I had run much of the way from Waterloo and only missed the first few minutes. Speakers at a rally by Keep Our NHS public, Health Campaigns Together and We Own It included Eleanor Smith MP and Green Party Health spokesperson Larry Sanders (Bernie’s older brother) as well as other health campaigners.

The petition from ‘We Own It’ with 31,870 signatures to scrap the ICP contract

At the end of the rally campaigners marched to deliver a petition to the Dept of Health, which had recently moved to offices on Victoria Street. It isn’t easy to spot and the march at first went past it before I and others realised, and had to turn around and go back to it. There was only a very small notice outside and it was only by looking through the large glass windows that it was clear that this was the building.

There was then a short protest on the pavement outside before a small group went inside to hand over the box containing the petition which had over 31,000 signatures.

As we walked in a security man told us that we were not allowed to enter the building and could not take photographs. The campaigners told him he could not be serious and ignored him as they handed the petition over at the desk.

There was then a final speech on the pavement outside by Tony O’Sullivan of Keep Our NHS Public and the event ended with a group photograph in front of the Ministry offices. As expected the private members bill failed to get a second reading and the privatisation of the NHS continues.

More pictures on My London Diary at Scrap ICP Contract, Keep NHS Public.

Support self-employed parental leave – Old Palace Yard, Fri 26 Oct 2018

I returned to Old Palace Yard outside Parliament where a photocall was taking place for the second reading of another private member’s bill. Tracy Brabin MP’s #SelfieLeave bill was listed, which would give self-employed parents access to shared parental leave and pay.

Tracy Brabin had appeared in several soap operas including Coronation Street, EastEnders, Casualty and Emmerdale before becoming MP forBatley and Spen from 2016 to 2021. In May 2021 she became the first elected Mayor of West Yorkshire. Her bill was supported by members of Equity, UK Music, the Music Producers Guild and the Musicians Union. Currently women are forced to be the main carer, regardless of circumstances and fathers are denied any paid leave to look after their children, reinforcing outdated stereotypes and causing stress for thousands of families.

Although there would be no additional cost to the exchequer as the existing entitlement to Maternity Allowance for self-employed women would simply be shared with a partner, this bill too failed to get its second reading. I did my best, but I think the pictures are generally rather uninteresting and demonstrate why I don’t usually bother with such photocalls.

Support self-employed parental leave

Fridays for Future – act on climate change – Parliament Square, Fri 26 Oct 2018

Elsie Luna who produces The Politics Podcast for Young People in the UK

In August 2018 Greta Thunberg instead of going back to school at the end of the Summer break protested outside the Swedish Parliament, breaking the law to start the School Strike For Climate.

This was the first protest in London hosted by Extinction Rebellion as a part of a #FridaysForFuture movement taking place in many cities and towns across the world inspired by her example. The group announced weekly protests would take place here in London.

Elise Luna with a message for Angela Merkel – Watch out – I see your dirty coal

They began the protest where I met them in front of the statue of Millicent Fawcett at the back of the square, but were soon told by the GLA heritage wardens they were not allowed to protest there and moved to the pavement at the front of Parliament Square which is not covered by the GLA bylaws.

Among the protesters was Elsie Luna who produces the remarkable ‘The Politics Podcast for Young People in the UK’. Few had come today, but it was the first protest and the organisers hope it will grow week by week.

Fridays for Future – act on climate change

Custody Deaths, Acid Attacks & Democracy

Tuesday, October 25th, 2022

United Families & Friends March & Rally – Trafalgar Square to Downing St, Sat 25 Oct 2014

Marcis Rigg holds a list of those known to have died in custody between 1969 and 2011

Every year on the last Saturday of October since 1999 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 where they hold a rally where members of the family of those killed speak.

Mrs Doreen Bishop, mother of Ricky Bishop, killed in Brixton Police Station in 2001

This year’s march is on 29th October 2022 and people gather in Trafalgar Square from noon for the march which is timed to start at 1.30pm. The march usually begins quietly, sometimes in silence but gets very noisy at Downing St. Everyone is invited come and support the families.

Some families carry banners with images of their loved ones who have died, and some wear t-shirts with images of them. The great majority of those who die in suspicious circumstances are young black men, and the United Family & Friends Campaign was started as a network of black families but has widened to support families of all races that die in custody.

Ajibola Lewis, the mother of Olaseni Lewis, 

The UFFC web site has a long list of families who the network supports: “Leon Patterson, Roger Sylvester, Rocky Bennett, Harry Stanley, Sean Rigg, Habib ‘Paps’ Ullah, Azelle Rodney, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Paul Jemmott, Ricky Bishop, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Sarah Campbell, Jimmy Mubenga, Paul Coker, Mark Duggan, Sheku Bayoh, Olaseni Lewis, James Herbert, Kingsley Burrell, Thomas Orchard, Amy El-Keria, Darren Neville, Jason McDonald, Philmore Mills, Mzee Mohammed, Adrian McDonald, Rashan Charles, Edson da Costa, Mark Cole” ending with “and many others.”

On My London Diary I mention a few of the speakers at the 2014 event: “Myrna Simpson, the mother of Joy Gardner, killed by police restraining her with a body belt around her head at her home in 1987… Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean Rigg was killed by Brixton police in 2008, Doreen Bishop, whose son Ricky Bishop was also killed in Brixton Police Station in 2001, Ajibola Lewis, the mother of Olaseni Lewis who died when restrained by police called to a Croydon hospital, Jo Orchard, whose brother Thomas Orchard was killed by police illegally restraining him in Exeter, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet, whose twin brother Leon Paterson was killed by police in Manchester in 1992, and Carole Duggan whose nephew Mark Duggan was shot by police in Tottenham in 2011.”

I think all of these speakers are shown in the pages of my post where you can read more about this extremely moving annual protest at United Friends & Families March.

Acid Attacks on Women in Iran – Downing St, Sat 25 Oct 2014

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) called for the UK to condemn the attacks by regime-organised acid attacks on women who are not veiled in Iran. This followed similar protests in Isfahan and Tehran.

They also condemned Iran’s hanging at dawn of Rayhaneh Jabbari. She had stabbed a former Iranian intelligence official who tried to rape her; she was the 967th person to be executed since Hassan Rouhani became Iran’s president.

More at Acid Attacks on Women in Iran.

Democracy Camp Saturday – Parliament Square, Sat 25 Oct 2014

Despite continued harassment by GLA private security ‘Heritage Wardens’, Occupy Democracy has continued its presence in Parliament Square for over a week.

Michael Meacher MP speaking – and two extra hands

It was the final Saturday of their intended camp in the square and as well as a visit from the EDL – who were stopped by police and never quite made it – there were a number of workshops, including by energy boss Jeremy Leggett, Donnachadh McCarthy and MP Michael Meacher.

Democracy Camp Saturday

EDL Visit Democracy Camp – Parliament Square, London. Sat 25 Oct 2014

A small group of extreme-right EDL supporters came to shout insults and make gestures towards the Democracy Camp, but police stopped them going into the camp area.

George Barda came out from the camp to try to talk sensibly with the EDL members but was met by racist abuse.

One man objected to being photographed by a press photographer and was told firmly by a police officer that photographers are free to photograph him if they wish on the public street – as I had been doing. Shortly after this police surrounded the group and led them away towards Victoria station.

More at EDL Visit Democracy Camp.

Racist UKBA & 3 Cosas

Monday, October 24th, 2022

Southall Black Sisters Protest Racist UKBA – Eaton House, Hounslow – Thu 24th Oct 2013

Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters speaking in front of the Hounslow Reporting Centre

Although I grew up in Hounslow, ten miles west of the centre of London, I’ve not often returned there in recent years, and the protest organised by Southall Black Sisters outside the Hounslow Reporting Centre on Thursday 24th October 2013 was the only one I’ve so far photographed in the town.

The UK Borders Agency reporting centre is at the western edge of the town, opposite Hounslow Heath where highwaymen once roamed and was the aerodrome from where the British Empire’s first scheduled daily international commercial flights took off in 1919. The large brick block once housed the UK laboratory and factory of US chemical manufacture Parke-Davis, once the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, now a subsidiary of Pfizer, who had set up a dyestuffs factory here before the first world war, though the Research and Administration building in front of which the protest was held only dates from 1954.

Southall Black Sisters (SBS) say that after the Refugee & Migrant Forum East London (RAMFEL) succeeded in its legal challenge over Theresa May’s Home Office advertising vans (which were also criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority) “the UKBA has shifted the ’Go Home’ message to reporting centres in Glasgow, Croydon and Hounslow.”

Their protest against the Government’s anti-immigration campaigns outside the Hounslow reporting centre stated “We will not tolerate underhand tactics used to instil fear and divide us. Let us return to the streets and make our voices heard. We need to fight for our rights.”

I joined the group of around 30 people, mainly SBS members, most wearing t-shirts with the message ‘Do I look illegal?’, but they were joined by others from Sol-Fed and other groups who had brought a large banner with the message ‘F**K ALL RACISM – NO ONE IS ILLEGAL’.

And no person is illegal, but those called it lack permission to be here, though many will in time be granted it. In France, such people are said to be ‘without papers’, but none of us in the UK needs papers to live here, so an appropriate but less biased term might be ‘without status’. The term ‘illegal immigrants’, a deliberately biased description of people who do not currently have a legal right to live in this country.

The protesters blew plastic horns and whistles and generally made a lot of noise, as well as shouting a number of chants including ‘Theresa May, drop the pretence, Go home vans cause offence’, ‘We are humans not illegal, We want justice for our people’ and ‘Money for jobs and education, Not for racist deportation.’

The protest was still continuing when I had to leave. You can see more about it on My London Diary at Southall Black Sisters Protest Racist UKBA.

3 Cosas Defy London University Protest Ban – Senate House, Thu 24th Oct 2013

The ‘3 Cosas’ campaign is for sickpay, holidays and pensions for all workers at the University of London, where many low paid workers are outsourced to companies who employ them often in the legal minimum wage and conditions of service, and also often employ bullying managers to overwork staff. They often fail to provide proper safety equipment to do the job.

The workers, many of whom are Spanish speaking, have for some years been demanding they should be directly employed by the university where they work rather than these contracting companies, and there have by now been many long and successful campaigns to achieve this.

The University management in 2013 had responded to their campaign with a ban of protests in and around Senate House, and threatened to bring police onto campus to prevent further protests and to bring charges of trespass against any protesters. This was seen by workers and staff and students as an attempt to prevent free speech and freedom of assembly at the university similar to that of of authoritarian regimes overseas, rightly condemned across academia and the rest of society.

On Thursday 24th October, staff students, the IWGB (Independent Workers of Great Britain) trade union which represents many cleaners and other trade unionists defied University management ban of protests by holding a noisy protest in and around Senate House.

After protesting on the streets around the Senate House, some of the protesters walked in around another building while others scaled the gates to protest at the bottom of Senate House. Eventually police came and tried to stop them walking out. But there were too few of them to be effective. The protesters walked out and ended their protest in front of SOAS.

More on My London Diary at 3 Cosas Defy London Uni Protest Ban.

St George’s, Camberwell, Absolutely Board & Alberto

Sunday, October 23rd, 2022

This post completes my walk on 8th January 1989 which began in at he Elephant and took me through Walworth to end in neighbouring Camberwell – the first post on this walk was Elephant, Faraday, Spurgeon & Walworth Road.

It was almost two weeks before I was able to come out and take pictures again and my next walk began at Camberwell on Friday 27th January 1989. I’d been teaching all morning but had managed to arrange my college timetable so I was free from around noon and could rush out to catch a train into London. In return for this I was teaching an evening class on Tuesdays.

St George's Church, Wells Way, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-56
St George’s Church, Wells Way, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-56

One of the ‘Waterloo’ churches, built 1824, architect Francis Octavius Bedford with seating for 1,734, enlarged in 1893 with an apse by Basil Champneys. Bedford, a distinguished church architect was the father of the notable photographer Francis Bedford (the two are sometimes confused.) It was Grade II listed in 1954 but in1972 was declared redundant, closed for worship and was deconsecrated.

A new St George’s Church was built as a part of the Trinity College Centre, a community centre in nearby Coleman Road which was dedicated in 1982. The old church was sold in very poor condition to the Celestial Church of Christ in 1977 and was broken into and vandalised on several occasions, before large parts were destroyed by fire in 1980 leaving an empty shell behind its fine portico. In 1993-4 the church was restored by St George’s Housing Co-operative as 30 one-bed flats.

Christ, Arild Rosenkrantz, St George's Church, Wells Way, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-41
Christ, Arild Rosenkrantz, St George’s Church, Wells Way, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-41

This war memorial statue by Danish artist Rosenkrantz was stolen in August 1991, but after a newspaper appeal by a local curate was discovered in a Brixton scrapyard two weeks later and returned to the site.

Camberwell Rd, Bullace Row, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-43
Camberwell Rd, Bullace Row, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-43

This block at 305-315 Camberwell Rd on the corner of Bullace Row looks very similar now except in better condition, though possibly significantly different behind the facade. Even some of the old shop fronts have survived though not with the same businesses. Bullace Row was at some time before 1912 known as Little Orchard Row, and almost certainly the name comes from the Bullace plum, similar to a damson. The shops with flats above are I think late-Victorian.

My walk on 8th January ended here on Camberwell Road from where I caught a bus to Waterloo.

Camberwell Green, Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-44
Camberwell Green, Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-44

I jumped on my bike shortly after my morning’s teaching ended on Friday 27th January, pedalled the two miles home as fast as I could, dropped my bike, grabbed my camera bag and rushed to the station for a train to Vauxhall, where thanks to a 36 bus was in Camberwell by around 1.30pm. Days in January are short but I still had a couple of hours to take pictures before the light went. I got down to business straight away with this picture taken more or less from the bus stop, look east along Church Street.

Gate, Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-45
Gate, Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-45

I walked west, cross the junction with Camberwell Road and into Camberwell New Road along which my bus had come. This gate, with its wrought iron work matching the spirals at the top of both gate posts is still there immediately to the west of The Old Dispensary, the pub almost at the end of this road at Camberwell Green. The rather attractive building with the curved side is still present, as well as the pair of gate posts, only one of which is in my picture.

Absolutely Board Ltd, Timber Merchant, Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-46
Absolutely Board Ltd, Timber Merchant, Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-46

The timber merchant with the signs that caught my attention, particularly the bored looking man sitting on a branch next to a bird’s nest and projecting out from the building has gone long ago.

Absolutely Board Ltd, Timber Merchant, Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-31
Absolutely Board Ltd, Timber Merchant, Camberwell New Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-31

This business at 348A Camberwell New Road (street numbers here seem a little random) was replaced by a modern infill which for some years was the home of Southwark Reach. The property immediately to its west, a Tripe Dresser has the number 344 on the shopfront and has since had various identities including a property business and Merric Barbers, but now appears to be selling bikes ans scooters.

Alberto, Ladies & Gents Hair Stylist, Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-32
Alberto, Ladies & Gents Hair Stylist, Camberwell Green, Camberwell Rd, Camberwell, Southwark, 1989 89-1d-32

I decided to leave Camberwell New Road for later and returned to the crossroads, going north up Camberwell Road, (here called Camberwell Green), where Alberto is still offering Gents and Ladies Hairdressing just few yards up the road at 14 Camberwell Green. The hairdressers is now only in the right hand part of the shop, with a money transfer business in the left part. There is still a single-storey small café next door, though now under a different name. At the left you can see the rather odd lighthouse of the The Old Dispensary public house. The sign on the front of the building above the hairdresser’s shop has gone and that on its side is now illegible.

More on this walk in a later post.

Xenophobia, UKBA Raids & City Climate Criminals

Saturday, October 22nd, 2022

Movement Against Xenophobia – Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Tue 22 Oct 2013

Lee Jasper speaks

The Movement Against Xenophobia (MAX) was a new campaign aimed at countering the vicious anti-immigrant discourse of mainstream politics in the UK. The rally outside parliament was in protest against the Immigration Bill 2013 which was debated later in the day.

Speakers attacked the Bill, which removed the great majority of the grounds on which foreign nationals can lodge appeals against deportation, puts a requirement on banks and landlords to check immigration status of those setting up accounts or becoming tenants, increases the fines for employers who hire anyone without the right to work here, and includes new powers to check driving licence applicants are in the country legally. The bill also imposes a levy on temporary migrants to allow them access to free NHS care.

They also opposed the existing draconian restrictions on bringing spouses to this country that are splitting many families, with a minimum income level required that half the population cannot meet, causing real hardship and heartache for many.

Governments have competed with oppositions over the years to convince the right wing press that their party has a tougher line against immigrants, with the racist vans and e-mails sent by the then Home Secretary Theresa May being an clear example of how low our politicians will sink.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP

Report after report has shown that migrants make a substantial positive contribution to the economy, enrich Britain’s culture and improve the standard of its public services. MAX demanded that politicians and the media end the use of language that incites racism and xenophobia and for the political parties to reject the ‘numbers game’ politics of immigration and replace it with a fair system built on human rights and the needs of the UK.

MAX was a coalition of existing groups who have come together to challenge anti-immigrant discourse, such as the continual use of the term ‘illegal immigrant’. As they point out, no one is illegal, and these are more correctly people who do not have the legal right to live here – they are undocumented migrants. MAX and its supporters want to live in a civilised society where people, irrespective of background, are valued and treated with respect.

Movement Against Xenophobia

Chinatown Says ‘No Entry UKBA’ – Gerrard St, Soho, Tue 22 Oct 2013

In London’s Chinatown, virtually all restaurants and shops closed for two hours for a rally and march against frequent raids being carried out there by the UK Borders Agency who have entered premises and interrogated people inside demanding to see evidence that they have permission to live in the UK.

Many of those questioned are British citizens or have leave to stay, while others are here visiting relatives on valid tourist visas. A small number have been found to be without proper documentation but the raids appear to be carried out in a random fashion on the off-chance that there might be so-called ‘illegal immigrants’ working in the premises – ‘fishing raids’.

These raids had no proper legal status in the UK as we are not required to carry ID and can simply refuse to answer questions and walk away. There was no requirement to give our name or address as a flier that was being handed out advised.

As the start of the two hour protest approached, more and more shops and restaurants turned customers away and put up signs in windows and doorways stating ”No Entry to UKBA fishing raids’ and there was much furious blowing of whistles. A small group protested noisily for a few minutes outside the only business still open on Gerrard Street, but soon moved away to the rally by the Two Lions statue.

Leading members of London’s Chinese community spoke at the rally against the UKBA raids. Some also made clear that there need to be easier ways to bring workers skilled in Chinese cooking to this country if they were to maintain their traditional practices which are vital to keep Chinatown truly Chinese.

After a number of speeches there was then a march around Chinatown before returning to continue the rally, though some workers were leaving to prepare for the reopening of businesses at the end of the two hour closure.

Chinatown Says ‘No Entry UKBA’

Fossil-Free London Lobby Tour – Bank & Stock Exchange, Tue 22 Oct 2013

Climate campaigners from People & Planet and toured some City sites which lock us into a fossil fuel dependent economy, stopping to make brief speeches and perform poems and songs. They carried balloons to represent carbon dioxide, which had all been intended to be black, but they couldn’t find enough black balloons so had to use some purple ones as well.

Police talked to them at the start of tour, and seemed happy with the tour, though they continued to follow them on the tour, which began in front of the Bank of England (and the Royal Exchange, now just expensive shops.)

From there they walked to the Stock Exchange, stopping first at the entrance on Newgate Street for a short rally before walking around to the main entrance in Paternoster Square.

Here there were more speeches and another song – ‘Buddy Can You Spare a Dime’ – and the balloons were popped as a small group of police and a security officer from the Stock Exchange looked on from a few yards away.

The tour then moved off to visit other ‘carbon criminals’ in the City, but I left them on the corner of Gresham St to go home.

Fossil-Free London Lobby Tour