Posts Tagged ‘anarchists’

Pay Rise, Occupy, Blessed Sacrament & Poor Doors

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Saturday 18th October 2014 was another long and busy day for me. After briefly looking in at Parliament Square, where a few from Occupy Democracy had defied police to spend the night on the pavement I went to the Embankment where thousands were massing for the TUC ‘Britain Needs a Pay Rise‘ march which was due to begin in a couple of hours time.

I returned to the TUC march a little later for the Press Call, seldom very interesting events to photograph, and then the start of the march where Frances O’Grady was doing her best for the camera.

Things got a little more interesting as the march filed part me, and towards the end of the 80,000 or so I met rather more people I knew, including those with CND, Focus E15, Occupy London, Class War and other radical groups.

An hour and a quarter after the start the people at the back were getting close to the start of the march, and I went back for another look at things in Parliament Square. Not a lot was happening, apart from some illicit sleeping (its a crime there.)

I went on to Westminster Cathedral, arriving in time to meet the Procession of the Blessed Sacrament leaving to walk to St Georges Cathedral in Southwark, and walking with them across Lambeth Bridge, from where I walked back towards Parliament Square.

I arrived back as more people who had been on the TUC march were arriving, including a group from UK Uncut dancing to a music centre on a shopping trolley. Police and a warden from Westminster Council – who are responsible for the pavement opposite the Houses of Parliament came and tried to seize the music centre, but after much argument allowed the to keep it so long as they left the square.

Shortly afterwards others arrived, with a group of anarchists running across the grass with black flags, chased by ‘heritage wardens’, then others poured onto the grass with the two towers with the messages ‘Power’ and ‘Democracy’ they had carried on the TUC march. A rally then took place, gathered around these to protect them, with John McDonnell MP as the first speaker, while police lined the edge of the square watching. Then small groups of police began to gather, ready to charge, and police reinforcements arrived; it seemed only a matter of minutes before they tried to clear the area.

But after Russell Brand arrived to speak, the police rapidly melted away and the many vans drove off. I suspect they knew that had they attacked when he was present there would have been massive media coverage and decided it was better to come back at dead of night after most of the press and TV have left – as they did.

I left to go to Aldgate, where Class War were holding a Poor Doors Saturday Night Special against the separate doors for rich and poor residents at One Commercial St, Aldgate, with a larger than usual group who had come from the nearby Anarchist Book Fair. It was a livelier protest than usual with samba from Rhythms of Revolution and some songs from Cosmo up from Wales for the event, as well as a rather larger than usual police presence.

Inevitably at the end of the protest the group decided to move onto the busy Whitechapel High Street and block it, ignoring orders by the police to leave the highway. It’s a fairly dark area of street and my flash unit was having problems, but I managed to make a few pictures, some by the headlights of the blocked cars. After around ten minutes the protesters decided it was time to leave the road and end the protest, and I went home.

More at:

Poor Doors Saturday Night Special
Procession of the Blessed Sacrament
Britain Needs A Pay Rise
Democracy Camp takes the Square


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No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop

Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

Protesters kettled outside City Hall as the Mayoral election results announced in 2008


London’s electors in a few days time will be faced with a rather bewildering array of candidates, with 20 names appearing on the ballot paper.

Ian Bone of Class War and banner ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ 2008

Current mayor Sadiq Khan is hoping for re-election and his chances are probably good and he has enjoyed a good lead in opinion polls with a roughly 20-25% lead over his nearest rival, the Conservative Shaun Bailey. He could even get the 50% needed to win on the first preference votes and is likely to end up with over 60% when second preferences are included.

Anarchists raise the anti-fascist banner at City Hall 2008

Bailey, like Conservatives standing in the various elections around the country, is rather likely to pick up votes because of the success of the Covid vaccination rollout, a rather unfair consequence as it was Tory incompetence that really got us into the huge mess – with bodies piling up in mortuaries if not on the streets, and the NHS, which they have been doing their best to privatise out of existence over the years, which got ahead and got on with the jabs – and fortunately the government, having perhaps learnt a little from the test and trace debacle, let them get on with it rather than giving jobs to their mates.

It’s a slightly unusual voting system, with the second round of counting including only the two leading candidates. But it does mean that if you are a Khan supporter you could safely vote for any other candidate than Bailey as first preference, knowing that you second preference for Khan would count for him in the end.

Fitwatch hold their banner in front of the police photographer 2008

Opinion polls suggest that on this basis YouTuber Niko Omilana might come out third on the first preference votes, well above either the Green Party’s Sian Berry or Lib Dem Luisa Porritt, either of whom would clearly make rather better mayors than him.

Police TSG arrive to clear the area. 2008

The 15 other candidates seem unlikely to gain much benefit from the voting system and will almost certainly all lose their £10,000 deposit. They cover a wide range from various fringe parties, serious single-issue candidates to various more or less entertaining idiots such as Count Binface. Even at odds of 800 to 1 it isn’t worth betting on him.

Police arrest a man who had been sitting quietly by the river

Back in 2008 there were fewer candidates, but it was sadder times as London was announcing the election of its worst mayor yet, though at least he did continue some of the previous incumbent’s policies, and some of the advisers he employed were competent. But the years Johnson was mayor were something of a disaster for Greater London – which he has gone on to repeat for the country as a whole.

Some of the protesters were surrounded and held for several hours

The ‘No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop’ protest by anarchists had its moments of farce, beginning with the police photographer taking an unusual interest in me as I sat reading a paperback. I just happened to be in the middle of John Updike’s ‘Terrorist’ at the time. Although I clearly watched him taking pictures, when I later made a freedom of information request about this an other occasions I’ve been photographed, the answer came back that there were no pictures of me.

Others had escaped as police moved in and showed the banner from a balcony before going to the pub

You can read more about what happened and see more pictures on My London Diary:
No to the Crook, the Toff, The Fascist or Cop


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Cable St Remembered

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Back on October 4th 2006 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Cable St. Then there were still quite a few people present who had their own memories of the day people from the East End fought police and fascist marchers, stopping them from marching.

In my account of the event I wrote (capitalisation added):

The man standing next to me quietly said “I was there” and later told me a little of the event and his life. It was the story of a typical East-ender of the era, 13 when it happened. His parents had arrived from Poland in 1912 and settled close to Cable Street, later moving to Brick Lane. Despite being Jewish he had gone to the Methodist Mission just down Cable Street and paid his penny to watch films of a Friday night. And like the rest of his friends, he went with the crowds to stop the fascists. Later, in uniform, he was a part of the army which went to europe to finish off the job in 1944, getting married shortly before he left. Still married after 62 years, he now lives with his wife in north London.

My London Diary – October 2006

You can read the story of one of the women who was there in 1936, Beattie Orwell in a long post on Spitalfields Life, published in 2018 when she was 100.

Max Levitas (1915-2018), perhaps the best-known of the Cable St veterans, and a life-long communist activist and antifascist fighter in the East End, led the march on the 75th anniversary in 2011 and made a powerful speech at the rally.

2016 was the 80th anniversary and was again marked by a larger than usual event, beginning with a well-attended rally in Altab Ali Park before marching to Cable St.

The march was attended by a very wide range of groups, reflecting the people who had come out onto the streets in 1936. Again on My London Diary I wrote:

It was the community that came out onto the streets. People from the mainly Jewish areas of the East End, trade unionists, communist rank and file and Irish dock workers. Men and women in a grass roots movement opposed to Mosley, people who knew that they would be the victims if he came to power. And of course the battle was not against Mosley, but against the police.

Of course there were communists and socialists among those who came out on the streets, and some who played a leading role. But it was essentially a victory for the working class left, for the anarchists and for many without political affiliations who came together spontaneously to defend their place and their people.

My London Diary – October 2016

Back in 1936 the Labour Party had urged people to stay away from the protest and go instead to Hyde Park, and even the Communist Party had opposed trying to stop Mosley until they saw that the fight was inevitable.

The march rather reflected this official caution, with marchers being told to keep to the pavement rather than march on the road. It was left to the anarchists and some of the more militant left to give a more authentic celebration of the event when they remained in front of the mural when the others left for the official rally at the end of the march.

Class War began their own rally, with Martin Wright as the only speaker giving a detailed account of the events of 1936 and their continuing significance, but this was interrupted when Italian communists and anti-fascist groups began their own very noisy performance with chants and flares.

Many more pictures from these events online at My London Diary:

Battle of Cable St 70th Anniversary 2016
Battle of Cable St – 75 Years 2011
Battle of Cable Street 80 Rally 2016
Battle of Cable Street 80 March 2016
Black bloc rally at the Cable St Mural 2016


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.



More From May Days: 2017

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

Class War put in a strong presence at Clerkenwell Green both with banners and with a newspaper, rather more interesting than many left-wing publications. Numbers of marchers were down after the previous year’s Corbyn-inspired peak, with the usual representation of communist groups from London’s immigrant communities, various left groups and trade unionists with banners. There were perhaps rather more from the trade unions and left as this march was also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution.

As usual when the march began I tried to photograph as many of the banners as I could as they came down the road, and there is a large selection of them on My London Diary. Although there were a few anarchist groups on the march I wasn’t surprised that Class War, always dismissive of A to B marches, had stayed behind and were now in the pub, where I joined them.

The plan had been for them to make their way by tube to Trafalgar Square, but it’s always difficult to leave a good pub, and by the time a small group had dragged themselves out carrying a rolled up banner they were running rather late. The journey took rather longer than I expected, as having been in the pub they decided on a route via Baker St, one of the few Underground stations with a public toilet, and by the time we arrived in Trafalgar Square the rally was rather past its peak, though I was pleased to be able to photograph Mark Serwotka speaking.

People were meeting in the Leake Street graffiti tunnel under Waterloo Station for the May Day F**k Parade, and I was pleased to find some familiar faces among the crowd. There isn’t a huge amount of light in the tunnel, and I was mainly working at shutter speeds of around 1/25s or a little faster, and quite a few pictures were blurred by people moving. I took a few using flash, but couldn’t really get what I wanted with it.

I was pleased when the parade moved off and there was more light. People were celebrating and there was a good atmosphere, at least until it got to Waterloo Bridge. Here’s my description from My London Diary for what happened there:

“On the bridge a black-clad protester set off another flare, and I heard a police officer shout ‘Let’s go and get him’ or something similar. I was pushed to one side as police rushed past me and a crowd of them surrounded a protester and grabbed him, throwing him to the ground.

The mood of the crowd changed instantly and some tried to grab their friend back, but police piled into them, some clearly enjoying the opportunity of a little rough handling of the public. Fortunately no one seemed badly injured.

As usual police tried to hide what they were doing to the man on the floor, standing around him to try to stop people seeing and photographing. There did seem to be some excessive use of force and the usual unnecessary painful forcing of his arms up behind his back as he was led away.

I was surprised by this sudden use of force against people who had really been causing no harm. There seemed to be no good reason for it, and it rather seemed as if the police simply wanted a bit of action and perhaps to intimidate the protesters who included a number of young children. And perhaps the fact that there were few if any other people on the bridge meant they felt they could get tough with the parade.

May Day F**k Parade

There had been a number of flares set off earlier – and more later in the event – which police seemed to ignore, so it was hard to see why they decided to act on this occasion.

Eventually the parade moved on across the bridge and then up through Covent Garden Market (with more flares) and then on to Leicester Square. By now the light was fading and so were my legs, and I left for home.

May Day F**k Parade
May Day F**k Parade Meets
May Day Rally
May Day March
May Day March Gathers


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


More from May Days: 2007

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

A fairly random selection of pictures I like from my coverage of May Day events in London in 2007.

Unusually my photographic day began in Whitehall where a small group of what I described as “the more eccentric elements of middle england” had gathered with a horse-drawn hearse and a dragon to take a coffin draped in a St George’s flag to Downing St, celebrating 300 years of union with Scotland by asking for English devolution. On My London Diary I wrote (and all in lower case):

i never did find out what the barnett formula they were against was, but i’m sure that these were people in favour of warm beer, cricket and morris dancing as well as good manners. st george didn’t look like the type to scare dragons (and the dragon wasn’t either scary or easy to photograph.)

but i’ve never really thought of myself as being very english. like most of the english, most of my family came from somewhere else at some time or other. i only knew one of my four grandparents and i’m not convinced she spoke english, but then she didn’t say much either.

apart from my lack of sporting skills i could have qualified for at least two of our national sides (so perhaps after all i could have played cricket for wales.) if i ever think of myself know as having any kind of cultural identity now (and it’s a very un-english thought) it would be as a londoner. maybe

http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2007/05/may.htm

From there I made my way to Clerkenwell for the annual London May Day march, dominated as usual by large groups from London’s ethnic communities.

Also on the march were trade unionists with their banners and campaigning groups such as ‘Stop The War’. Among other groups you can see in my pictures are Chagos Islanders and Gate Gourmet strikers who were protesting at being betrayed by their union, the T&G W U.

The marchers went on as usual to Trafalgar Square where a man stood with a whistle and a sign to welcome them.

I went on to Canary Wharf, where the Space Hijackers, outnumbered around ten to one by police, were holding their ‘Booted and Suited’ party in Reuters Square

And the day ended with a little police sadism:

A police officer applies a dangerous ‘pain compliance’ hold cutting blood supply to the brain of a man who wasn’t resisting arrest, while another officer forces his hand up behind his back. The man was then put in a police van and driven away. He had apparently ignored a police order to move on.

The whole of the Canary Wharf area is one of those increasing parts of the city which are private fiefdoms, with the public only allowed access to serve the needs of capital as workers or consumers. It has its own security service, but on this occasion only their boss, wearing a suit, was in evidence, coming to talk with protesters and police. It dresses its security officers in uniforms which closely resemble those of police officers, in a way that seems to be an offence under the Police Act 1996. Having invited several hundred police officers to the event I imagine they had decided having the security officers there would be too confusing.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.