Scaring Arms Dealers

The ‘Carnival Against Capital’ on June 11 had been just the first public event of a London week of action ahead of the G8 meetings in Ireland organised by the same ‘Stop G8’ coalition, and the heavy-handed police actions against it attracted criticism across much of the media. So although I went along to the Wednesday’s Anti-Militarist Action wondering if we would see more draconian policing, today the police were on their best behaviour, facilitating protest and standing back and letting it happen – though of course filming protesters and writing a lot in their notebooks.

I arrived to be greeted by a bunch of ghouls getting ready for the action a short distance from the starting point, and after wandering down to the offices of arms manufacturer BAE along in Carlton Gardens and finding just a small group of photographers and other media people waiting for something to happen, walked back and took a few pictures, then went with them to the protest.

I couldn’t find a really good solution to photographing this group from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade. As you can see, they had a long black banner with the message ‘Think we’re SCARY? You’ll find ARMS DEALERS INSIDE’ and the six people in black with ghoul or skull masks, some in best grim-repear mode carrying scythes were spread out along its length. Getting the banner text legible made most at least of those holding it rather small, and without the text the point of the costumes was unclear.  Though the red lights inside the BAE offices did rather appropriately put me in mind of the fires of hell.

This wasn’t the only banner, with a particularly fine example from the long and resourceful Brighton campaign against their local arms manufacturer EDO, and there were other things that helped in making photographs of the event such as the white plastic suits, which you can see in the pictures at G8 Protest Against Arms Dealers, but it wasn’t until the final short rally of the event that I really began to find images that I felt were a little more than routine.

My favourite from the event shows it framed between two faces – and it could perhaps usefully be cropped a little at top and right. At the left is the ‘Anonymous’ mask, actually on the back of the head of a man who is speaking (see below.) The man on the right is holding the end of the anti-EDO banner, held by a row of people in those white suites, tow of them with face masks. Behind them a police van and an officer watching, as well as red and black and green flags held by the protesters.

As usual I was working with the 16-35mm on the D700 and the 18-105mm DX on the D800E, where the greyed-out area around the DX frame is a great aid in precise framing. All except the top image here were made with the 16-35mm. More pictures at G8 Protest Against Arms Dealers.


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