Posts Tagged ‘black lives matter’

Class War Occupy Rich Door 24 Sep 2014

Friday, September 24th, 2021

A few days ago I had to sit down and write some explanations to a friend who lives on a smallholding in rural France who doesn’t have a computer or internet access. It made me realise how much has changed for most of us since some time in the 1990s, when we all began to be connected by the World Wide Web and browsers such as Mosaic which really made the breakthrough to something like the web we now know and most of us spend large parts of our life in.

Some time ago I’d sent him a copy of my book – or rather ‘zine’ – ‘Class War: Rich Door, Poor Door‘ I published in 2015:

“A photographic account of the protests from July 2014 to May 2015 at One Commercial St, Aldgate, London against separate doors for rich and poor residents. The book includes over 200 images from 29 protests. ISBN: 978-1-909363-14-4”

It is still available, and at the very reasonable price of £6.00, though given Blurb’s postage rates it only makes sense to buy it if you get together with a few mates to order several copies.

More recently my wife sent him a copy of a postcard with my picture from 2014, ‘Vigil for Ferguson, US Embassy – No Justice, No Peace’ and he wrote back asking who Ferguson was – and included a couple of questions about the Class War book.

Google of course would have supplied him the answers in the twinkling of a mouse click, and told him Ferguson was a town in Missouri where riots had followed both the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer and the failure to indict the officer for the murder. He could have got the answer even quicker on my own web site, My London Diary, where putting ‘Ferguson’ in the search box at top right on most pages returns links to the Solidarity with Ferguson vigil, Hands Up! Against Racist Police Shootings protest following the shooting and this Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown following the decision not to charge Darren Wilson with his murder.

His second question was about the Class War banner with its message “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” Lucy Parsons 1853-1942, and was simply to ask “Who was Lucy Parsons”. Again Wikipedia and other web sites such as the IWW Archive would have given a fast and far more comprehensive answer than the brief reply I wrote.

The final question was one that amused me. “Who, ” he asked, “was that elderly gentleman with a walking stick” and “why was he being arrested and being put into a police van in one of the pictures“. It was of course Ian Bone, and again my web site contains much about him on many occasions, including pictures and an explanation of his arrest on Wednesday 24th September 2014.

When the building manager had held open the ‘Rich Door’ for a resident to go through, the person holding one end of the Lucy Parsons banner had stepped in front of it to prevent him closing it. He made the mistake of walking away to the concierge desk, probably to ask the concierge to call the police, but leaving the door open and unguarded. So Class War walked in unopposed, bringing two banners with them and continued to protest in the the foyer.

Ian Bone talked to the building manager, then held up a couple of framed notices from the desk, and talked about them and the objections to social tenants being made to use a separate door on a dirty alley at the side of the building, before putting them back carefully on the desk next to a vase full of flowers. Others spoke briefly and people loudly shouted slogans.

And then “there was a crash and the vase of flowers was no longer on the reception desk. Ian Bone had knocked it off with his walking stick, which he had been swinging around rather wildly as he spoke. I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t tell if it was deliberate or accidental.” Though I was fairly sure it would have been on purpose.

Shortly after, the police arrived, and there was some discussion; I went outside and a few minutes later the protesters followed and the protest continued as usual on the pavement, with more speeches and noise. Eventually the protesters decided it was time to leave and were moving away when a police office approached Ian Bone and told him he was being arrested as the CCTV in the ‘rich door’ foyer showed him breaking the vase. There was considerable argument as he was led away and put in the van, but no attempt at resistance.

Later we heard that Ian Bone had agreed to pay £70 for a replacement vase and the building owners had decided not to press charges. And at the following week’s Poor Doors protest Class War brought along a couple of vases of flowers to play with and to try and get the building manager to take, though as they probably came from a Pound Shop they “they were perhaps a little plastic and tacky looking compared to the one that had been broken the previous week.”


The building manager refused to take the replacements, but later made the mistake of grabbing hold of one which was thrust in his face, “probably by reflex. His face when he found himself holding it was interesting, and he quickly put it down, placing it on the desk in the reception area in the same place as the one knocked off last week, complete with its with a ‘Toffs Out!’ Class War card.” And I was just able to photograph it through the window there on the desk.

More on My London Diary:
Class War Occupy Rich Door
Class War Poor Doors Week 10


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.


Black Lives Matter – Brixton 9th July 2016

Friday, July 9th, 2021

Five years ago on July 5th 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black man selling videos outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was shot and killed by police at close range. The incident was filmed by several bystanders and their mobile phone video clip shocked and enraged viewers around the world.

The following day, July 6th, 32-year-old Philando Castile was driving with his girlfriend in a suburb od St Paul, Minnesota, when police stopped the car and asked to see his driving licence. His girlfriend video the events which ended in Castile being shot five times at point-blank range, dying 20 minutes later. The officer who fired was later charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm but found not guilty by a jury.

These two cases provoked protests around the world, including this event in Brixton. Shootings of people by police remain common in the USA at around a thousand a year and Black people are around two and a half times as likely to be shot as White. These cases stood out both because the two men shot were not involved in any crime but also because there was clear evidence from the videos that there was no justification for the shootings. Later the families were to be awarded compensation running into millions of dollars in both cases.

Although policing in this country is generally not carried out at the point of a gun, with an average of around 3 people killed by police shooting a year, there have been many cases of deaths at the hands of police, again disproportionally affecting Black people. As I wrote in my account of the protest:

Brixton Police station has been the scene of a number of black deaths in custody, including that of Sean Rigg, Wayne Douglas and Ricky Bishop, and one of the organisers who spoke wore a t-shirt listing just a few of those who have been killed by police in the UK, with young black men in particular being far more likely to die after arrest – or to be shot rather than arrested. Last year police stripped the tree in front of the police station of its deaths in custody memorials on the day of the annual march in central London against deaths in custody.

My London Diary

The crowd that gathered in Windrush Square (aka Windswept Square after Lambeth Councils re-landscaping to make it deliberately less hospitable) was largely black, and the protest had been called by local black organisers. Most of those who spoke talked about their own experiences of police racism in the local community as well as the shootings that had provoked the protest.

So many people wanted to have their say that the event continued for several hours, eventually going on to march up the Brixton Road to Brixton Police Station and bringing traffic to a standstill for several hours.

But it had come at the end of a long day for me and I had gone home well before that. Earlier in the day I’d photographed protests against the nonsensical ‘Garden Bridge’ across the Thames and the demolition of council estates by Labour Councils, both in Waterloo, in Hackney against domestic violence, at Downing St against Brexit, the scapegoating of immigrants and Islamophobia and a Green Park Brexit picnic and I was exhausted. You can find more about the Black Lives Matter protest and these other events on My London Diary.

Brixton stands with Black victims
Green Park Brexit Picnic
Europe, Free Movement and Migrants
East End Sisters Uncut-Domestic Violence
Housing Protest at ‘Progress’ conference
Garden Bridge ‘Progress’ protest


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.


Schools Climate Strike

Monday, March 15th, 2021


A bill is currently being introduced into the UK parliament which will severely restrict our ability to protest, giving police new powers to control both static protests and marches. Many of us see it as a major attempt to limit democratic and human rights and a major step in our movement towards a police state. Even the police are worried about some aspects of it. I think there are some aspects which the House of Lords may seek to alter or remove, but given the large Tory majority it seems likely to be passed more or less intact.

The proposals by Home Secretary Priti Patel are widely seen as a knee-jerk right-wing reaction to protests by Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter movement, and come at a time when Covid restrictions are being widely used by police to prevent protests, even where these seem to present little danger of spreading the virus.

XR promoted a policy of encouraging its supporters to be arrested, and were widely criticised on the left for doing so. In its earlier protests, relatively few of those arrested came to trial and many charges were found to be unlawful – as was the London-wide ban on protests the police later enforced. In later XR protests the Home Office clearly put pressure on police and CPS to ensure that charges were brought and the new bill reflects that much tougher attitude.

We already have a criminal justice system that is failing under extreme pressures, and was even before the extra constraints of Covid. Police are failing to pursue many types of crime and the chances of criminals being caught – always the most effective deterrent – are rapidly falling. In the 12 months up to March 2019, only 7.8% of reported offences in England and Wales led to someone being charged or summonsed – roughly on in every 13 – and unless a crime number is needed for insurance many now think it isn’t worth reporting most crimes. It’s a figure that halved since records were first published only four years previously.

I doubt if this bill will actually have the intended effect of reducing protests, but it will increase the number of arrests and further clog up the justice system – probably leading to the introduction of yet more draconian measures including the loss of civil rights.

Quite how the Old Bill will react in future at protests like the London Schools Climate Strike on Friday 15th March 2019 is a matter for conjecture. If the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill comes into law will they be prepared to undertake mass arrests of minors who refuse to accept direction? Clearly the police (and military) revelled in the freedom and encouragement from Thatcher to wade into the miners, but I hope they will still have sufficient human decency to draw the line when Patel’s orders come to attack children.

Of course what we really need is not to attack climate protesters but to take urgent actions to avoid climate disaster – as the several thousand school students who took part in the Big School Strike for the Future were demanding.

More about the protest at London Schools Climate Strike


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.


The Language of Photography

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

Thanks to a tweet by duckrabbit I went to read an article on the blog of London portrait photographer Andy Barnham, From weapon safety to the language of photography. I know little or nothing about weapon safety – and the St. Louis couple who stood outside their home pointing weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters seemed to me appallingly dangerous for their mental attitudes rather than the important points of firearms etiquette that Barnham points out.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey have been charged with unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. They had a card printed using the photograph of themselves taken by UPI photographer William Greenblatt without permission, and he sent them a polite letter asking for a fee of $1500 for the usage. On 6th November they went to court in St Louis asking for ownership of the photo, stating it was taken on their property, claiming damages from Greenblatt and UPI and asking for a ban on the use of the photo by UP and others including a company producing t-shirts and other memorabilia. According to The Hill, the St Louis Post Dispatch (unavailable in the UK except by VPN) “the couple have a long history of suing their neighbours … over small neighborhood issues“. This case seems unlikely to enjoy any success.

But Barnham goes on to think about the language of photography, and in particular the way many talk about ‘shooting’, ‘photo-shoots’ and other related terms when describing photographs and the act of making photographs. He goes on from there to write “at a time when BLM is questioning the country’s historical connection to the slave trade and has seen statues removed, is the termmaster/ slave’ appropriate, especially when the terms have ready alternatives such as primary/ secondary, key/ fill and so on? “

You can read more in his post, and in the various comments on it. Here is the comment I added to those already there.

Now we mainly use wireless flash triggers for multiple flash, the terms ‘master’ and ‘slave’ are in any case redundant. But the terms never referred to the lighting function but to how the units were fired. When I used multiple flash set-ups, the slave was usually the main light, set up to one side, while the master was a subsidiary light used as fill but physically connected to the camera sync socket or hot shoe. Sometimes the master might even be masked to that no light from it reached the subject, but it was still able to trigger the slave or slaves.

I’ve long tried hard to avoid the word ‘shoot’ in my thinking and writing – like Paul Halliday, I’ve always ‘made’ pictures. In similar vein the word ‘capture’ now favoured by some uses of digital cameras also raises my hackles, and I’m not that happy with ‘take’ either – it has that suggestion of ‘stealing souls’.

Back to multiple flash, where one flash is used to trigger another I would suggest the terms ‘lead’ and ‘echo’ are suitably short and clear and perhaps better express the essential difference.

Of course we should still use terms such as ‘main light’, ‘rim light’ and ‘fill’ to talk about what the lights are doing, but ‘master’ and ‘slave’ were never about that.



Showing faces II

Thursday, June 11th, 2020

For a rather wider discussion of the issues involved in photographing protests and showing the faces of those taking part, you may like to read On Ethics, The First Amendment, and Photographing Protestors’ Faces by Allen Murabayashi.

It is of course in some respects a very US-centric article, talking about Trump and about the constitution. But I think it makes some of the reasons for the disagreements over the issue clear, and is worth reading.

Murabayashi gives his own opinion in two short paragraphs as the end of the piece:

To me, the real discussion shouldn’t be about the blurring or obscuring of faces, nor gaining consent of a subject. These are tactical choices, and in the U.S. there is simply no expectation of privacy in a public setting.

Instead, we ought to continue to consider how photography is used to portray others (particularly the vulnerable), and whether an image truly advances a story or simply acts as a signifier for the photo we should have taken.

Op cit

The link in the last sentence is to another piece by Murabayashi, The Photographic Phases of Depicting COVID-19, which is also an interesting read.


Black Lives Matter

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Staines, Surrey, UK. 4th June 2020.

I won’t be going to today’s ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest at London’s US Embassy though I would like to be there, both to show my support and also to take photographs, and it would be an easy journey for me.

The health risks of attending, though not huge, are greater for me than for most or all those who will be there, as if I were to be infected my life would be at greater risk both because of my age and because I have diabetes. I’m fortunate not to have great problems with diabetes, and I think I lived with it for over 30 years before it was diagnosed as a contributory factor to my heart attack in 2003, and now insulin and a careful diet usually keep it well under control, but it does mean my immune system isn’t too great.

The risks would be quite low. According to one of our leading epidemiologists speaking on the radio yesterday, about 1 in 700 people currently has Covid-19 and is infectious, although they may not be showing any symptoms. The proportion who are infectious in the protest crowd is likely to be rather smaller, as those who do have symptoms will almost certainly stay away. The protest will be taking place outside in a very open area, which will cut down the chance of infection.

The chance of being infected depends on various things. You reduce it by physical distance from an infected person – so if people at protests are able to keep that 2m away from people not in their own social group that helps greatly. If people who have the virus are wearing even simple home-made face masks that greatly reduces their spreading of the virus.

Protesters ‘Take the Knee’ at the side of Staines Town Hall.

Being a photographer is slightly more complicated. In the nature of things you have to move around and thus have a greater chance of coming close to one of that very small number of infected persons present. The moving around also cuts down your chance of always keeping that 2m distance. If you are, like me, someone who likes to get close to those you are photographing, you would be advised to change your way of working, moving perhaps to longer focal lengths. And you would certainly be advised to wear an effective mask when working. Moving around does have the advantage of decreasing the time you are close to any individual, which will also reduce the chance of infection.

The main danger to protesters will almost certainly come from policing. The police seem consistently to fail to observe social distancing and fail to wear face masks, so putting the public at risk. But also they often try to herd protesters into smaller areas where social distancing may be impossible, often to try to keep traffic flowing.

A silent die-in for 8 minutes 46 seconds in the Two Rivers shopping park in the centre of Staines, the time Floyd was restrained by a police officer.

It was probably unwise for me to leave home on Friday to cover a Black Lives Matter protest which I could hear from my window in Staines, particularly as I rushed out unprepared, forgetting to pick up my face mask. Of course I tried to keep at a suitable distance but there were moments when this wasn’t practicable. It was a rather smaller protest, with perhaps a couple of hundred people, not all of whom were wearing face masks either. Rather more of my pictures than usual were made with a short telephoto lens, with my wide-angle used largely for wider views in an attempt to preserve social distance.


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.