On September 1 the EDL tried to march to a rally in Walthamstow and the people of Walthamstow turned out in force to say they were not welcome. Although I was happy with the pictures I took, there was perhaps no single image that stood out or somehow summed up the event. Today I chose this one of people sitting in the road on the route the EDL intended to take to their rally, I think mainly because of the mix of ‘ordinary people’, citizens of London that it shows, united in their determination that the EDL will not pass. But another day I might chose a different picture, perhaps of the road filled with people marching behind a banner, or of a brave couple on their own on the march route standing with a placard – and with two police standing on the same street corner.
Walthamstow sits down on the road to stop the EDL
The EDL were in some ways easier to photography, simply because they were far fewer in number, although practically it was much harder as they were surrounded by police and at times rather unfriendly, with several swearing at me or threatening me for taking their pictures.
I wasn’t prepared for the confrontation that looking back on it was inevitable. Trying to be too clever I’d gone down the side street which the EDL march was about to be diverted down by police away from the protest against them, and was a couple of hundred yards away when I heard fireworks being thrown and a lot of shouting as the EDL and their opposition both tried to break through the police lines and get at each other. By the time I managed to get back to the corner most of the actual action was over, though I still got a few pictures including several of one particular confrontation, taking pictures over the heads of police with the 28-105mm at or near its extreme end. I couldn’t get any closer, though that was perhaps just as well. Almost all of the fighting that I saw – and all I managed to photograph – was between the EDL and police
I was annoyed with myself – it had been a stupid decision to go on ahead, and it bugged me for the rest of the day, though I continued to follow the EDL march until it was held in a side street by the police who judged it unsafe for them to continue. I went on to photograph the small group of EDL leadership who had come by van and set up the PA system for their rally and were now facing a large hostile crowd held back by police. They got the police to tell me to leave their area before I could take any pictures, and along with other photographers I was then in the area between the two groups of protesters. After photographing ‘Tommy Robinson’ picking up a half brick that had landed not far from him and carrying it across to police I decided it wasn’t a healthy place to be, as I refuse to work in a helmet. Already I’d been hit or had near misses from pieces of wood and card from placards; things seemed to have reached an impasse, with police blocking the roads and kettling the EDL and I decided it was time to leave. The EDL had clearly been defeated by the people of Walthamstow, though it only became clearer later exactly how much of a rout it had been – and how the police had really rubbed it in.
EDL marchers try to get though police line
I was busy with other things during the month, not least preparing for my first one-person show for a while, which although relatively small with around 25 pictures, did occupy quite a few days work printing, framing, writing text and captions, delivering and hanging. And I also had a few days up in Yorkshire, a short break in which I walked and photographed a little scenery and a large family event. So I had rather fewer opportunities to take pictures than in most months.
‘Rape Survivor’ protests ahead of ‘Slutwalk’
One of the events I was sorry to miss because I was up north was the Slutwalk. But I was able to take a few pictures at a media event called to publicise it and the cause a few days earlier, with a small group of women posing and speaking in their underwear opposite Downing St with appropriate placards and messages on their bodies.
At the end of a month I was interested to photograph a protest for women’s reproductive rights, opposing the recent attempts by militant right wing ‘Christian’ groups to harass women going to abortion clinics and attempts in Parliament to reduce the time limit on abortion, as well as supporting women in Ireland who suffer under strict anti-abortion laws, leading to at least one high-profile death in recent months, as well as considerable difficulties and suffering for many others.
‘Our bodies are still battlegrounds’ after Barbara Kruger
One particular placard caught my attention, with its message ‘Our bodies are still battlegrounds’ in white text on red background strips across a split positive and negative black and white image of a woman’s face, a slight revision of feminist artist Barbara Kruger‘s 1989 ‘Your body is a battleground‘. It remains a powerful image. I’ve long appreciated Kruger’s work, while continuing to remind people that she isn’t a photographer!
In my earlier review of the month (with different pictures to those in this post) after I’d finished putting the work on line I came to the conclusion:
September I took quite a lot of pictures that I liked, but probably none that will ever end up in my portfolio. Lots of good workmanlike stuff, and things that some of those I photographed liked, but little of the magic that we all need to make something special.
All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.