Posts Tagged ‘BLM’

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


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


May Day #KillTheBill

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

May Day 2000

Unfortunately May Day is not a public holiday in the UK, and when I was in full time teaching it was usually just a normal working day for me and I was unable to celebrate it except in those years where it fell at a weekend. Even when I cut my teaching to 30% for a few years, that 30% seemed always to include May Day, and it was only from 2003 that I began to attend May Day in London every year – until 2020, when it went online.

This year, when May Day is on a Saturday, the official May Day celebrations are also taking place online, but May 1st is now a nationwide day of action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 with which the government is attempting to severely limit the right to protest and in particular to criminalise “noisy” protests and prosecute people in the Gypsy and Roma communities. Noisy protests shaming businesses have been vital in recent years in gaining better wages and conditions for low paid workers particularly in the City of London.

The Bill will give the police much greater powers to place conditions on protest – and to make it a crime to break these conditions if they “ought to have known” they were in place but didn’t. They introduce a new offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance” which can lead to a sentence of up to ten years.

Police also gain greater powers to stop and search on the streets under a new Serious Violence Reduction Order, an arbitrary power that removes even the need for any suspicion and will doubtless lead to an even more racist implementation of stop and search, worse than the old ‘Sus’ law that led to the Brixton riots 40 years ago.

As a knee-jerk reaction to Black Lives Matter protests there is a new offence of causing damage to statues and memorials which could also lead to sentences of ten years, twice the maximum sentence for assault causing actual bodily harm.

The bill also seeks to create a wide “controlled area” around parliament where protests would not be allowed – and so MPs and ministers would no longer be made aware of any public opposition to their actions. Many see the bill as denying our right to freedom of assembly and association under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights .

A long list of organisations are coming to Trafalgar Square at noon today for a MayDay #KillTheBill protest (and to similar protests in Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.) They include Sisters Uncut, Women’s Strike Assembly, Black Lives Matter UK, Disabled People Against Cuts, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Docs not Cops. With the current large Tory majority in the House of Commons the bill is likely to pass with only minor amendments, and the fight will move to the streets where with strong opposition much of the new law will be unenforceable.

Seconds later an officer knocked this man offering plants flying

Pictures are from 21 years ago, May Day 2000. There are some black and white pictures from the same day on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

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.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr