Posts Tagged ‘Brixton’

Baltimore to Brixton – Black Lives Matter! 2015

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

Baltimore to Brixton – Black Lives Matter! The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was first used on Twitter on 12th July 2013 but only became common in 2014 after the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice in 2014, reaching a peak when it was announced nobody wold be prosecuted over the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. According to a list published by Twitter on the tenth anniversary of the platform in 2016 #BlackLivesMatter was the third most used hashtag in those ten years, beaten by #Ferguson at number one and #LoveWins, celebrating the US Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

Of course the UK has its own cases of people, especially but not only black who have been killed by police and otherwise in custody and an annual march takes place in Whitehall on the last Saturday of October by the United Families and Friends Campaign to remembers them, with a list of over 2000 names being carried to a rally at Downing Street.

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) describes itself as “a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger to name but a few. Together we have built a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.”

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

And we have a long history of racist prosecutions, most notably perhaps the trial of the Mangrove Nine in 1970. The defendants, most of whom defended themselves, were finally all acquitted on the main charge of incitement to riot with four receiving suspended sentences for less serious offences. But the judge made clear in his comments that the authorities and in particular the Metropolitan Police had been racist in their actions and in bringing the prosecution.

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

Since then there have been other high profile cases which have demonstrated the institutional racism of the police force – notably over their investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the police murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. In 2023 the report by Baroness Casey was only the latest to castigate them as racist, sexist and homophobic.

Activists in the UK have also responded to the police murders in USA, and on Sunday 3rd May 2015 following the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and police attacks on his funeral which led to massive protest in the USA, they protested in Brixton in solidarity and pointed out similar problems in Brixton and the UK.

It wasn’t a huge protest but was supported by a wide range of groups from Brixton and across London, including London Black Revs, Class War, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, Reclaim Brixton, Women of Colour and the All-African Women’s Group from the Global Women’s Strike, Brixton Latin American Community, Mexica Movement London Chapter, Our Brixton, Latin Brixton, Justice for Christopher Alder, BirminghamStrong, Justice 4 ALL, The Brick Lane Debates, Occupy UAL, RCG, Revolutionary Communist Group, Occupy London, Rojava Solidarity Working Group, Algeria Solidarity Campaign, Environmental Justice North Africa and Justice4Paps.

On My London Diary I give some brief facts about the killing of 25-year-old African American Freddie Gray and the attack on his funeral by police which provoked riots. You can read a much more detailed account on Wikipedia.

The march began by going through the large barrier bloc of Southwyck House, built in the 1970s as a shield for the urban motorway, plans for which were dropped after the devastation it would cause became obvious after the Westway section was built in North Kensington, stopping for a brief protest there before it continued to a housing occupation against Guinness Trust opposite the Loughborough Park Estate. It then through the centre of Brixton to a rally in Windrush Square.

People then marched along Brixton Road past the Underground Station to Brixton Police Station and on to the Loughborough Estate to a community centre on Somerleyton Road.

I’d walked far enough and left the march there, walking back along Atlantic Road where I photographed some of the murals against the eviction of local shopkeepers from the railway arches before taking the tube to Westminster to go to visit the Occupy ‘Festival of Democracy‘ in Parliament Square, then in Day 3.

More pictures at Baltimore to Brixton – Black Lives Matter!


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25 Years Ago – April 1999

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

25 Years Ago – April 1999. When I began posting on my web site My London Diary I decided that the posts would begin from the start of 1999, and there are still image files I created in January of that year on line, though I think they probably only went live on the web a few months later.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
The Millennium Dome seen across the River Thames from Blackwall DLR station, one of a series of medium format urban landscape images.

In those early days of the site there was very little writing on it (and relatively few pictures) with most pictures just posted with minimal captions if any.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Burnt out cars at Feltham on the edge of London, stolen and wrecked on waste land by youths.

A single text on the introductory page for the year 1999 explained my rather diffuse intentions for the site as follows (I’ve updated the layout and capitalisation.)

What is My London Diary? A record of my day to day wanderings in and around London, camera in hand and some of my comments which may be related to these – or not

Things I’ve found and perhaps things people tell me. If I really knew what this site was I wouldn’t bother to write it. It’s London, it’s part of my life, but mainly pictures, arranged day by day, ordered by month and year.

My London Diary 1999

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster (left) takes part with Anglican and Methodist clergy in the annual Good Friday Procession of Witness on Victoria St, Westminster.
25 Years Ago - April 1999

In the years following My London Diary expanded considerably, gradually adding more text about the events I was covering but retaining the same basic structure. Had I begun it a few years later it would have used a blogging platform – such as WordPress on which this blog runs, but in 1999 blogging was still in its infancy and My London Diary was handcoded html – with help from Dreamweaver and more recently BlueGriffon, now sadly no longer.

25 Years Ago - April 1999
Man holding a placard at a protest against Monsanto’s genetically modified crops.

My London Diary continued until Covid brought much of my new photography to a standstill and stuttered briefly back to life after we came out of purdah. But by then my priorities had changed, and although I am still taking some new photographs and covering rather more carefully selected events my emphasis has switched to bringing to light the many thousands of largely unseen pictures taken on film in my archives, particularly through posting on Flickr. Since March 2020 I’ve uploaded around 32,000 pictures and have had over 12 million views there, mainly of pictures I made between 1975 and 1994. The images are at higher resolution than those on my various web sites.

121 Street Party, Railton Rd, Brixton. 10th April 1999 121 was a squatted self-managed anarchist social centre on Railton Road in Brixton from 1981 until 1999.

Since I moved to digital photography My London Diary has put much of my work online, though more recent work goes into Facebook albums (and much onto Alamy.) My London Diary remains online as a low resolution archive of my work.

Sikhs celebrate 300 Years of Khalsa – Southall. 11th April 1999

April 1999 was an interesting month and all the pictures in this post come from it. I’ve added some brief captions to the pictures.

No War on Iraq protest – Hyde Park, 17 April 1999 President Bill Clinton was threatening to attack Iraq to destroy its capability to produce nuclear weapons. Operation Desert Fox, a four day air attack, came in December 1999
Southall Remembers Blair Peach – Southall. 24th April 1999. Blair Peach, a teacher in East London was murdered by police while protesting a National Front meeting in Southall in 1979.

Stockley Park – one of a series of panoramic landscapes of developments in London – this is a major office park with some outstanding architecture

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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Sunday, February 25th, 2024

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth – On Wednesday 25th February I photographed a number of protests in London, starting in Westminster with the Free Shaker Aamer campaign, striking firefighters and welfare rights activists, then with tube workers at Edgware Road and finally outside Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton.


Free Shaker Aamer – Parliament Square

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

A protest opposite Parliament called for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The Free Shaker Aamer Campaign had been holding weekly protests opposite Parliament whenever it was in session to remind government of the need for act over his release. He had long been cleared for release but was still held in the illegal prison camp with both US and UK governments dragging their feet as his testimony would be embarrassing to their security agencies, making clear their involvement in torture.

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

The protest was longer than usual as an international event was taking place at the nearby QEII centre and they wanted to remind delegates there of Shaker’s torture and imprisonment. Eventually the long campaign of protests by this and other groups led the UK government they needed to back his release in practice and he was finally released on 30th October 2015.

More pictures: Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament


Striking Firefighters block traffic – Westminster

Shaker, Job Centres, Firefighters, Tube, Lambeth

Firefighters in England held a 24 hour strike on 25th Feb 2015 against the unworkable pension scheme the government intended to implement. They say that the devolved governments had recognised the problems in the scheme and made improvements but in England government ministers were refusing to talk with the union, simply ignoring requests for meetings. They accused the government of lies about the union, saying they were being labelled as militants despite them being ready and willing to enter into negotiations at any time.

After a rally in Westminster Central Hall, several thousand striking firefighters protested on the street outside Parliament before marching to Downing St. Their protest brought all traffic in the area to a standstill until they marched away.

They stopped outside Downing Street and refused to move, saying they would wait there until someone came out to talk to them. A senior police officer come to talk with Matt Wrack and the other FBU leaders there and was extrememly politie, taking Wrack’s mobile number before going away to see if anyone could be persuaded to come out from Downing St to meet the protesters.

I left them leaning on the barriers and looking into Downing Street waiting for someone to come and see them, though I doubted if anyone would ever emerge.

The Fire Service has also suffered like other public services from government cuts; in London these led to Mayor Boris Johnson making dangerous reductions, closing some fire stations and reducing equipment and staffing, which left the London Fire Brigade ill-equipped to deal with major disasters such as the Grenfell fire.

The FBU union later won a number of legal cases against the government over the changes that were made to the pensions scheme, leading to significant compensation for some members.

More at Striking Firefighters block traffic.


Welfare Advocacy not a Crime – DWP, Westminster

Welfare activists protested outside the Dept of Work & Pensions in Caxton Street as a part of the national day of action over the arrest of welfare rights activist Tony Cox. He had been arrested when he tried to accompany a vulnerable claimant to her job centre interview to argue for a fairer claimant agreement.

As well as several banners, one man was gagged in protest. By law claimants are allowed to have and adviser present with them at the interview, but when a claimant turned up with Cox, his interview was cancelled.

Cox and the claimant then left the job centre, but later in the day police arrived at his him and arrested him, charging him with threatening behaviour.

Welfare Advocacy not a Crime.


RMT protest Underground Job Cuts – Edgware Road Station (Bakerloo)

Around 20 RMT members handed out fliers at the busy Edgware Road Bakerloo Line station against the proposed 50% cut in station staffing and the closure of the ticket offices which they say will endanger the safety of both passengers and staff.

They got a very positive reception from many of the public going in and out of the station or walking past, although a PCSO came to harass and try to stop their picketing. Most of the public seemed to realise that staff do far more than sell tickets and offer service and protection to the travelling public.

Many promises were made to Underground staff and the public about how they would be protected when cuts were made, but most were later broken.

RMT protest Underground Job Cuts


Lambeth against £90m cuts – Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton

After taking some photographs of the protesting RMT staff I got on the Underground there, changing at Oxford Circus to take me to the end of the Victoria Line at Brixton.

There I walked down to Lambeth Town Hall on the corner of Acre Land to join around a hundred trade unionists, pensioners, library and other council staff, social housing tenants and other residents who were gathering for a lively rally outside Lambeth Town Hall.

A lively rally took place urging councillors who were arriving for the council meeting to reject library closures and other £90 millon cuts which were being passed there by the large Labour majority on the council. Labour then held 59 of the 63 council seats. Among the speakers at the rally was the only Green Party councillor, Scott Ainslie, who was to vote against the cuts. The Green Party gained four more seats in the 2018 council elections but lost three of these in 2022. Right-wing Labour councillors still have an overwheming majority and the council continues its policies which fail the community.

Lambeth’s finances were stretched by the development of a new Town Hall or Civic Centre the cost of which roughly doubled from the original contract of £55 million ot £104 million. Policies such as the closure of libraries and the demolition and sale of popular and well-built council estates like Cressingham Gardens had already produced a great deal of protest in the borough.

The £90 million cuts passed at the council meeting later that evening have had a disproportionate impact on children, old people and the disabled who always rely on local services more than the average person. Council employees at the rally opposed the cuts not only because they feared for their own jobs, but because they knew those that remain in post will not be able to offer the public the same quality of service that they do at present.

Lambeth against £90m cuts


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 – December

Monday, January 8th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023: Apart from a protest by Just Stop Oil against the way their protests are being policed and non-violent protesters being given lengthy prison sentences because of political pressure by our government which has continued to move away from our ideas of liberal democracy towards a police state, all but one of the other events I photographed were about the continuing genocide of the people of Gaza. More and more civilians – men, women and especially children – were being killed every day, more forced to move out of their homes with nowhere safe to go, and an increasing humanitarian crisis – with many workers for relief agencies also being killed by Israeli forces.

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 - December
Police Clamp Down on Just Stop Oil. London, 2 Dec 2023. I
Just Stop Oil met at New Scotland Yard for a peaceful non-violent march. As it was about to start one of the organisers was arrested and others were warned that if they stepped into the road they would also be arrested. After a short meeting the protesters marched through the crowded pavements of Westminster holding photographs of jailed JSO protesters behind a banner ‘NO PRISON FOR PEACEFUL PROTEST’ to a rally outside the Supreme Court. Some held large photographs of peaceful Just Stop Oil protesters who are in jail, some serving lengthy terms though some juries have refused to convict those standing up for the future of our planet.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 - December
Police Arrest Young Teen at Brixton Gaza Protest. London. 2 Dec 2023.
At the end of a Gaza Ceasefire march to a rally in Brixton, a crowd surrounded a police van containing a young teenager arrested for an allegedly anti-Semitic poster, shouting “Let Them Go!” and preventing the van from leaving. Police argued with protesters for around 45 minutes, eventually bringing in almost a hundred officers who pushed the crowd back to the pavement so the van could leave.
Peter Marshall

The situation in Brixton was rather confused and I got different stories from different people. The police too were arguing with each other for much of the time before a Senior Commander arrived, stopped another officer who had been trying to calm the situation and brought in reinforcements. There were at least two arrests, one for carrying a placard which I think compared in some way the actions of Israel in Gaza with those of the Nazis and the second for damaging a police vehicle.

Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 - December
Now We Rise Day for Climate Justice. London, UK. 9 Dec 2023.
Climate Justice Coalition protest at BP’s London HQ calling for climate justice. The UN COP28 climate summit in the UAE is presided over by an oil CEO and attended by a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists who togther saw we did not get the committment to phase out fossil fuels we need to survive. Our government too is blocking the path to a green transition, backtracking on cutting carbon and granting many new oil and gas licences despite record world temperatures and increasingly dire scientific predictions.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance 2023 - December
National March for Palestine – Full Ceasefire Now. London, UK. 9 Dec 2023.
Neturei Karta Jews support the march. Hundreds of thousands march in London to call for a full ceasefire in Gaza where Israeli forces have killed over 17,000 people including more than 7,000 children. Bombing has made humanitarian aid and medical treatment impossible and widespread deaths from disease and starvation now seem inevitable. Marchers call for an end to the genocide and a political solution to bring peace and justice to Palestine under international law.
Peter Marshall
Gaza Ceasefire Rally, Elephant, London, 16 Dec 2023.
The Gaza Ceasefire Now! rally in Elephant Square was one of many across the country in a day of action for Palestine as rage grows over the increasing death toll, with over 18,600, mainly women and children, now having been killed by Israeli attacks. Hundreds came to a rally to demand a permanent Ceasefire now, and for an end to British complicity in Israeli apartheid before marching to join a vigil by medical staff at St Thomas’s Hospital.
Peter Marshall
Gaza Ceasefire Rally, Whitechapel. London 16 Dec 2023. The
Gaza Ceasefire Now! rally at the Tower Hamlets Town Hall was one of many across the country in a day of action for Palestine as rage grows over the increasing death toll, with over 18,600, mainly women and children, having been killed by Israeli attacks. Several hundred came to demand a permanent Ceasefire now, and for an end to British complicity in Israeli apartheid and were supported by many drivers who hooted as they drove past on the busy road.
Peter Marshall
Gaza Ceasefire March, Lewisham. London 16 Dec 2023.
The Gaza Ceasefire Now! march in Lewisham was one of many events across the country in a day of action for Palestine as rage grows over the increasing death toll, with over 18,600, mainly women and children, having been killed by Israeli attacks. A large crowd possibly around a thousand met at New Cross to march demanding a permanent ceasefire now, and for an end to British complicity in Israeli apartheid.
Peter Marshall
Vigil for the children of Palestine, Ilford. London 16 Dec 2023.
A vigil for the children of Palestine in Valentines Park was one of many events across the country in a day of action for Palestine as rage grows over the increasing death toll. Adults and children spoke, some reading poems and we heard about the lives of a few of the many murdered children. The protest condemned the genocide in Gaza, calling for a permanent ceasefire now, and for an end to British complicity in Israeli apartheid.
Peter Marshall

It was almost the end of the year. Christmas too was overshadowed by the news of new killings and increasing suffering in Gaza. Christmas festivities were cancelled in Bethlehem, and the Nativity scene at the The Evangelical Lutheran Church there showed the newborn Jesus wrapped in a kaffiyeh an a heap of rubble to show solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Like many others I greeted the passing of 2023 at the end of New Year’s Eve with thanks that 2023 was over and the hope that 2024 would see a better year for us all. But perhaps that hope was realistically only a glimmer.


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Living Wage, New Era & John Lewis – 2014

Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

Living Wage, New Era & John Lewis – on Saturday 13th December 29014 a Santa led protests in Brixton for a living wage for shop workers, Class War protested against property developers wanted to evict tenants on a Hackney estate so they can refurbish and let them at high private rents, and a cleaners union protested inside John Lewis on Oxford street for a living wage and better treatment for cleaners working there.


‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage – Brixton

Living Wage, New Era & John Lewis

Lambeth Living Wage campaigners, led by an impressive Santa, protested in and outside shops in the centre of Brixton, handing out fliers calling for all workers to be paid a living wage. They urged shop workers to join a union and gave out forms.

Living Wage, New Era & John Lewis

The protest was supported by Unite the Resistance, the Socialist Party and Unison (who provided the Santa costume) and also the Fast Food Rights Hungry for Justice campaign supported by the Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union, BFWAWU, the National Shop Stewards Network and other groups.

Living Wage, New Era & John Lewis

The small group went into a number of shops and used a megaphone to tell shoppers and workers why they were protesting and handed on union membership forms to the workers there. At some stores they were stopped as they tried to enter and instead protested outside, and where they were able to walk in they left when requested.

I met them at the first shop they protested at, Morleys Stores and went along with them to Subway and Poundland before I had to leave for another protest. They continued visiting more shops for a couple of hours.

‘Santa’s Naughty List’ Living Wage


Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’ – Berkeley Sq

Living Wage, New Era & John Lewis

Supporters of Class War protested at the Mayfair offices of US property developers Westbrook Partners in solidarity with the tenants of the Hackney New Era Estate. Westbrook see the estate simply as an opportunity to make large profits and intend to evict the existing tenants of these low rent social properties by Christmas so they can then refurbish them and then re-let them at market rents, around four times as much as the threatened tenants were paying.

This was a smaller protest than either the organisers or police had anticipated. It hadn’t been well publicised and illness and some disputes between supporters of Class War had reduced the numbers attending, though a few of the New Era residents had also come to protest.

Class War arrived with two banners and some placards and a Christmas Card for Westbrook Partners with some far from seasonal greetings. Rather to my surprise, a representative from Westbrook was present to meet the protesters and receive the card.

Protests by the New Era residents had earlier attracted considerable media attention, particularly after a video by Russell Brand went viral. A few days after this protest Westbook who were also under pressure from Hackney Council sold the estate to the Dolphin Square Foundation, a charity which provides secure social accommodation, and the threat of evictions was lifted.

Class War: ‘Evict Westbrook, Not New Era’


Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis – Osford Street

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and customers protested inside John Lewis’s Oxford St store, calling for the London Living Wage for cleaners there and an end to their treatment as second-class citizens. Many of the Christmas shoppers inside the store applauded their noisy protest.

I met with the IWGB an hour before the protest and they told me they planned to protest inside the flagship John Lewis store on Oxford Street which would be full of Christmas shoppers and told me when I could meet them at the restaurant on the 5th floor.

I arrived to find them unpacking their banners and placards and a PA system, with John Lewis staff watching them and asking them not to get in the way of people taking their food to the tables, so they cleared the way.

The protest began with a speech by IWGB organiser Alberto Durango to let those in the restaurant know why they were protesting and then the group moved off, stopping at A suitable point to share the message that John Lewis does not employ the cleaners, but uses a cleaning contractor. This means the cleaners get low pay, poorer conditions; they want to be paid a living wage and to be treated like the others who work in the store.

Along with the cleaners were a group of John Lewis Customers who met and marched with them with placards ‘JOHN LEWIS YOUR CUSTOMERS SAY PAY YOUR CLEANERS THE LIVING WAGE’.

It was a noisy protest and attracted the attention of many shoppers at various levels of the store as they protesters slowly made their way down floor by floor, stopping on the balcony at each level.

By the time they reached the third floor, John Lewis managers were asking the protesters to stop and leave the store. The continued on their way down, protesting loudly as they did so. A few police arrived and began to go down with them.

When they reached the ground floor there was confusion with police and John Lewis security staff, some trying to stop the protesters leaving and others pushing them out and the protest continuing. I got pushed in all directions and my pictures here were largely blurred. Eventually together with most of the protesters I got outside and the protest continued there.

We get news that some people have been arrested inside the store. Outside one police officer tries to stop the protest by grabbing the amplifier, but people hold on to it and others shout and film
him. He manages to pull out the leads, but then steps back, and the protest continues. Police rush out carrying one protester who has been arrested but is still shouting for cleaners to get a living wage and put him into the back of a police van.

Police won’t give any details of the arrests. Some of the IWGB went to wait outside the police station where people were arrested, waiting there until they were released in the early morning. I don’t think any were actually charged perhaps because mobile phone footage from inside the store shared on the web showed them being assaulted by police while trying to leave.

Many more pictures at Cleaners Xmas Protest in John Lewis.


Santas, Education, Nativity 2014

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023

Santas, Education, Nativity – London was getting into the Christmas spirit on Saturday 6th December 2014, with boozy hordes of Santas on the streets and a Fossil Free Nativity Play in Westminster. But a national day of education activism against tuition fees had also been called and I photographed a march in south London.


South London March for Free Education – Clapham

Santas, Education, Nativity

There was a disappointing turnout for the march against tuition fees which gathered outside Lambeth College facing Clapham Common.

Santas, Education, Nativity

It perhaps wasn’t a good day to have called for a protest, as many students will already have left London to go home for the Christmas break, and others will have been busy with other things including Christmas shopping. And I’m sure there will have been rather more running around the capital in Santa costumes for Santacon.

Santas, Education, Nativity

The marchers included people from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, Lambeth Left Unity and South London Defend Education. This was one of a number of events taking place that day across the country including others around London.

Santas, Education, Nativity

I walked a short distance with the march taking a few photographs before leaving them to take the tube to Westminster. They were marching to a rally in Brixton where they expected rather more to attend.

A few more pictures at South London March for Free Education.


Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest! – Broad Sanctuary

Christian Climate Action and Occupy organised an entertaining performance of a Fossil Free Nativity Play between Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall, part of a continuing campaign to get churches to disinvest from fossil fuel companies.

Among the members of the cast were Wesley Ingram who wrote the play and performed as the Angel Gabriel, and George Barda of Occupy who played Joseph with his child as the baby Jesus.

Few of the actors had seen the script before the performance and the costumes and props were interesting rather than authentic – perhaps the best being the headgear for the Roman soldiers.

Their was some lively music from violin and trumpet and at the end of the performance everyone posed behind the banners calling for the churches to divest from fossil fuels. But there was no sign of the clergy from either Westminster Abbey and Methodist Central Hall,

More at Fossil Free Nativity – Churches Divest!.


Santacon

Around a thousand young people in Santa suits, along with the odd elf, reindeer and other Christmas-themed costumes were milling around the edge of Clapham Common for the start of day-long alcohol-fuelled crawl through London (with a little help from public transport.)

Similar groups were starting from meeting points in East and North London and they hoped to meet up later in the day at Marble Arch or Hyde Park, though I think for many the festivities would end in Trafalgar Square.

Later in the day I met up with rather more of the Santas coming from North London close to Great Portland Street station, by which time they were rather merrier. I also met a couple of photographer friends who had also come to take pictures. Most of the Santas were keen to be photographed and quite a few also got me to take pictures on their phones, though I found that rather beyond me. I hope a few worked.

I went with them along to Baker Street taking pictures and later in the day wrote:

Thousands in Santa suits and other Xmas deviations, police trying hard to keep smiling, cans of beer, doubtfully soft drinks, just a few Brussel sprouts in the air, crowded bars, sprawling mass of mainly young people having fun on the streets of London. Santacon.

It was getting dark and although I could still work it meant using flash and I didn’t feel the results were as good. I left them there to make my way to join my two friends who by then were sitting in one of the nicest pubs in the area and was delighted to find a pint waiting for me on the table.

Many more pictures at
Santacon Start in Clapham
Santacon North London


Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot – 2017

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot – On Saturday 2nd December 2017 residents of Cressingham Gardens in Tulse Hill marched with supporters to a rally at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton to demand Lambeth Council hold a ballot of residents over the plans to demolish their homes. I went early to take a walk around the estate and take some photographs before the rally and march.


Cressingham Gardens – Tulse Hill, Brixton

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot

Council estates generally get a bad press, with media attention concentrating on those which were badly planned and have been allowed to deteriorate, often deliberately populated with more than than share of families with problems of various kinds, used as ‘sink estates’ by local councils. Some councils have even employed PR companies to denigrate and demonise those of their estates they want to demolish and sell off to private developers.

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot
This has always been a popular estate, and has a low crime rate for the area

These developers have also powerfully lobbied our main political parties who have handed over much of their policies over housing to developers and estate agents and other property professionals who stand to make huge profits from turning public property into private estates.

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot

Yet many council estates are pleasant places to live, often much better planned than private developments of the same era, and providing more space for people than the cramped and expensive flats that are replacing them where redevelopment schemes have gone ahead. Lambeth Council have several such estates, including those at Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens where this would clearly be the case, and residents at both sites have campaigned strongly to keep their homes.

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot

We seem always to be in a housing crisis in the UK, and some of the solutions that were taken to meet this have not always worked to well, particularly with some system-built high rises which were shoddily erected by private developers for councils.

After I left home in the early 1960s I lived in private rented flats, then in a New Town in a flat from the development agency and then for many years now as an owner occupier. The private rentals were pretty squalid and the publicly owned flat was rather more spacious than the small Victorian house we have lived in since. It would have been good to have been able to move into socially owned housing when we relocated but it wasn’t available.

Until the Thatcher government came into power public housing had regarded as something desirable with even Conservative Councils such as Lambeth was then having a mission to provide quality housing for working class Lambeth residents. They employed some of the best architects in the country, such as Edward Hollamby, the chief architect for Lambeth Council who was responsible for Cressingham Gardens and designed this low rise ‘garden estate’ development built in 1967 to 1979 at low cost and with a high population density, but with the 306 homes each having their own private outdoor space.

As the Twentieth Century Society state “this is one of the most exceptional and progressive post-war social housing estates in the UK” but the application for listing the estate in 2013 was rejected despite Historic England praising the way the design responds to its setting, with skill and sensitivity, “both in the scale and massing of the built elements, as well as through the integration of these elements with informal open spaces which bring a park-like character into the estate”. It appears to have been a decision made in defiance of both the estate’s architectural and historical merit and solely on political grounds.

The estate is on the Twentieth Century Society Buildings at Risk list. Lambeth Council have completed their preparation and brief for its complete demolition and their web site states they “will shortly be starting RIBA Stage 2 (Concept Design).


Cressingham Gardens residents say Ballot Us!

People met up next to the Rotunda in the centre of the estate designed by Hollamby as a children’s nursery, many carrying banners and posters. Residents were joined by other campaigners, including those trying to save Lambeth’s libraries and housing campaigners from north London.

Residents love living on Cressingham – a small well-planned estate with a great community feeling and many know that they will be unable to afford the so-called afford ‘affordable’ homes that the council wants to replace their homes with – a 2 bed flat after regeneration will cost £610 (at 2017 values.)

They want the estate to be refurbished rather than demolished, which the council says would cost £10 million. Many dispute the council’s costings and say that some of the problems the council has identified are a matter of poor maintenance rather than needing expensive building works. But residents in any case point to the council having just spent over £165 million on a new Town Hall and say refurbishment is a cheap option.

It isn’t the cost of refurbishment which makes the council turn it down, but the profits that developers can make from the site – and which the council hopes to be able to get a share. Though such schemes haven’t always worked out well. Although the developers have done very nicely out of demolishing the Heygate site in Southwark and building high density blocks on it, the council made a huge loss, though some individuals involved have ended up in lucrative jobs on the back of it.

Lambeth is a Labour Council, and since the previous Labour Party conference party policy had been that no demolition of council estates should take place without consent, but Lambeth Council seem determined to ignore this and go ahead with their plans for a so-called ‘regeneration’ which would see all 300 homes demolished, without any plans to provide immediate council housing for the roughly 1000 residents who would be made homeless. To the council these residents are simply occupying a site worth several hundred thousand pounds – an asset the council wants to realise. It doesn’t care about communities, about people.

Those who have become leaseholders of their homes are likely to get even more shoddy treatment. The amount of compensation they are likely to receive is likely to be less than half they would need to buy a comparable property in the area – on or the rebuilt estate.

Cressingham is in a very desirable location, on the edge of a large park and with good transport links a short distance away. Many are likely to have to move miles away on the edge of London or outside to find property they can afford, far from where they now live and work.

The march set off for Brixton Town Hall on the corner of Acre Lane where a small crowd of supporters was waiting for them. The placed a box containing petition signatures in front of the locked doors on the steps and a rally began with shouts calling for a ballot.

Among those who had come to speak along with residents from the estate were Tanya Murat of Southwark Homes for All and Piers Corbyn, a housing campaigner also from neighbouring Southwark.

One of the strikers from the Ritzy cinema opposite told us that none of them could now afford to live in Lambeth now, and it’s clear that we need more social housing not less in the area. A local Green Party member also told us that they were the only party in the area campaigning for more social housing.

Potent Whisper performed his take on Regeneration, ‘Estate of War’, from this Rhyming Guide to Housing. The video of this was recorded in Cressingham Gardens.

Others who had come along included people from Class War and the e RCG (Revolutionary Communist Group) who have been very active in supporting social housing campaigns as well as Roger Lewis of DPAC who told us how council cuts affect the disabled disproportunately.

More on My London Diary:
Cressingham residents say Ballot Us!
Cressingham Gardens


Hong Kong, Fur, Brixton & Carnaby – 2019

Thursday, November 23rd, 2023

Hong Kong, Fur, Brixton & Carnaby – There were five events listed in my diary for Saturday 23rd November 2019, but I only photographed two of them, the Stand With Hong Kong march and rally and the annual March Against Fur, though I missed the others. But I did take a couple of short walks. I can’t remember now why I went to Brixton, but my trip to Carnaby Street was to see a small exhibition in a shop I had three pictures in.


Stand With Hong Kong – Westminster

Hong Kong, Fur, Brixton & Carnaby

Sadly the idea that the British Government could in 2019 have any real influence on China over the breaches of Sino-British Joint Declaration agreed in 1984 when Margaret Thatcher was in power was always an illusion.

Hong Kong, Fur, Brixton & Carnaby

In 2014 the Chinese government had said it regarded the agreement had already met its objectives following the handover in 1997 and they regarded it as now having no legal effect. The British government disagree but have no possibility of doing anything to change Chinese minds or actions.

Hong Kong, Fur, Brixton & Carnaby

So while I had great sympathy with people of Hong Kong who had been protesting there as well as their supporters in foreign countries including UK, it was clear that these protests would not change policies in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, Fur, Brixton & Carnaby

Finally the British government had to admit this and it led to the setting up of the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa scheme in 2021, which allowed Hong Kong British National (Overseas) citizens (BNOs) and their close family members to move the the UK for five years after which they can apply for leave to remain and, after a further year for British citizenship.

Perhaps protests such as these did influence the government in how the scheme was set up, with a fairly generous interpretation of the rules governing family members, although the route to becoming a British citizen seems unnecessarily long and complicated.

BNO status was set up by an Act of Parliament following the 1984 declaration for Hong Kong residents who wished to retain a connection with the UK after the handover to China and had to be claimed before that too place in 1997. About a third of Hong Kong residents had BNO status and the scheme would also allow a similar number of their families to get visas.

Although the total number of people eligible to come to the UK was thought to be over 5 million, the number expected to take up the offer was expected to be around 320,000 and so far is only roughly half this. Although much cheaper than other visa schemes it remains quite expensive as a health charge is also applied and for a family with one child the total costs over the period to obtain British citizenship is around £20,000.

Stand With Hong Kong


March Against Fur 2019

After a rally in Leicester Square the march set off through central London.

The march went along the pavement along Charing Cross Road, which was extremely crowded.

Though it spilled out onto the road.

Although the main focus of the many posters was against fur and the ending of the fur trade, the main banner called for an end to all forms of animal oppression and many on the march were vegans.

I left the march as it turned down Shaftesbury Avenue for a tour of the West End and stores selling fur products, calling for an end not just to using fur in clothing but against all exploitation of animals of all species, whether for meat, dairy, wool, leather or other products.

More pictures at March Against Fur 2019


Brixton & Carnaby Street

First Child by Raymond Watson, a memorial to 116 children murdered by the Afrikaner police force in Soweto in 1976 was the first public sculpture by a Black artist in the UK, commissioned in 1998 by the 198 Gallery.

Bon Marché, Britains first purpose built department store, was opened in 1877. Its founder went bankrupt but the store continued in business with various owners until 1975. Since then it has been refurbished with almost all ground floor detail lost.

I paid a brief visit to Carnaby Street where 3 of my pictures were in the window of a shop called Size? in a temporary display celebrating the apparently iconic Nike Air Max 90 introduced in 1990. I took the three rather maroon images in this picture of the window and the one at the right, taken at Notting Hill Carnival in 1990 shows a man in rather long shorts wearing those trainers. There were ten panels in the display, the other nine using later pictures taken by other photographers.

Brixton
Carnaby Street Show


Democracy, Mansion Tax & Justice – 2014

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023

Democracy, Mansion Tax & Justice – on Saturday 22nd November 2014 I photographed protests about democracy and justice in the UK, the brutal persecution of Christians in Pakistan and Class War protesting outside the homes of millionaire objectors to a proposed mansion tax. My day’s work ended in Brixton with an annual march remembering young men killed in Brixton Police Station.


Occupy Democracy at Supreme Court – Parliament Square

Democracy, Mansion Tax & Justice - 2014

Activists from Occupy Democracy had spent the night on the wide pavement in front of the Supreme Court on the west side of Parliament Square and were getting ready to hold two days of workshops there.

Democracy, Mansion Tax & Justice - 2014

The Supreme Court is housed in the ornamented former Middlesex Guildhall facing the Houses of Parliament across the square and does not sit at weekends, perhaps why the police had not tried hard to remove the protesters.

Democracy, Mansion Tax & Justice - 2014

Parliament Square itself was still fenced off and guarded, with police fearing that Occupy protesters might come and set up up a tented camp there. One of the banners the protesters had brought read ‘WE ARE THE GHOST OF BRIAN HAW’, the peace protester who had defied legal and illegal attempts to remove him from his camp facing Parliament for many years.

Democracy, Mansion Tax & Justice - 2014

A small group of protesters was sheltering from the rain in the doorway of the Supreme Court and I went to say ‘Hello’ and take a few pictures.

Others were holding posters and banners and waiting for others to come an join them for the workshops. I couldn’t stay but hoped to come back later, but ran out of time to do so.

Occupy Democracy at Supreme Court


Justice for Shahzad & Shama – Downing St

Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi were Pakistani Christians who had been trapped into bond labour at a brick kiln in a Muslim village 35 miles south-west of Lahore. Shahad was involved in a dispute with the kiln owner and landlord as he wanted to pay off his debts and leave and the landlord’s accountant is alleged to have raped Shama.

Shama had cleared out and burnt some items belonging to her father after his death on 30th October 2014. These included some black magic amulets and written charms. The ashes were seen by a Muslim worker and he accused her of burning the Koran.

A large mob came from surrounding villages and attacked the couple, stripped them and tied them to a tractor, beating them as they were taken to the kiln, where petrol was poured over their bodies; accounts differ as to whether both were still alive when they were then thrown into the furnace while there six year old child watched. Armed police stood by but refused to interfere in their murders.

The police and authorities appear to have tried to cover up the case and buried the remains of the bodies in secret to avoid their families arranging a funeral. But the news leaked out and the federal government had appointed a minister to co-ordinate the case. At Downing Street there were prayers and speeches calling for justice including from an Elim Pentecostal minister and singer Si Genaro.

Justice for Shahzad & Shama


Class War Griff Rhys Jones Mansion Tax – Fitzroy Square

Earlier in the month, Class War had announced they would stand a number of candidates in the forthcoming 2015 General Election and had put together a manifesto largely as they walked the short distance from the pub to a Poor Doors protest.

Marina Pepper rang the bell at Griff Rhys Jones’ house

Class War did not expect to win any seats – or even save their deposits, but “to launch a furious and coordinated political offensive against the ruling class with the opportunity an election gives us to talk politics to our class.” And they intended to “make ourselves central to the campaign in a funny, rumbustious combative and imaginative way.”

One of the key pledges in their manifesto was for a 50% mansion tax, and it was also a policy on a rather less punitive scale for the then Labour party (no longer in existence.) And several well-known and filthy rich people had voiced their objections including Griff Rhys Jones who said he would leave the country if Labour levied a mansion tax.

On Saturday 22nd November a small group from Class War, including two of their election candidates Marina Pepper went to protest at the £7 million home of Griff Rhys Jones in Fitzroy Square, telling him to “f**k off now“, offering to pay the fare.

Class War rang on the bell though nobody came to answer it, although there were signs of movement inside. They put hazard tape around the area outside the house before going for a walk around the square, pausing for another brief protest outside the home of Guy Ritchie, another millionaire objector to a mansion tax.

Continuing around the square, next to the house where both George Bernard Shaw and later Virginia Woolf both lived, they came across the Magistrates Association – who got another sticker, as did the locked gates into the private garden in the centre of the square.

Having gone around the square they arrived back outside Griff Rhys Jones’s house where they stopped for a group photograph and a few more minutes of protest before leaving for a nearby pub. I would have liked to join them but had to rush to another event.

Class War Griff Rhys Jones Mansion Tax


Still No Justice for Ricky Bishop – Brixton

Ricky Bishop, a fit young black man, died from unexplained injuries hours after being taken to Brixton Police Station on 22 Nov 2001. Family and supporters call it a modern day lynching and march annually to remember him and call for justice.

Ricky Bishop was a fit young black man when taken into Brixton Police Station on 22 Nov 2001, but hours later he died from unexplained injuries. His family and supporters call his death a modern day lynching and march annually to remember him and call for justice.

People met in Windrush Square and marched slowly to the police station, calling out the names of the officers they accuse of murdering him, to hold a memorial event around the tree outside which has been adopted as a remembrance tree for Ricky Bishop and the others killed there by police.

Among the speakers was Marcia Rigg who spoke forcefully of the long battle to get any proper investigation into the death in he police station of her brother Sean Rigg in August 2008. While she was speaking there were shouts from officers inside the police station accusing her and the family of lying about the police.

I felt shocked and disgusted that police still feel the killing people as they did Sean Rigg is defensible and go to great lengths to prevent proper investigation, giving police almost total immunity from the consequences of their actions.

Although many of the over 3,000 custody deaths between 1969 and 2011 may not have been the result of deliberate actions or failures, there has not been a single officer successfully prosecuted, despite considerable evidence of wrongdoing. Instead we have seen repeated instances of failures to properly investigate and interview officers, collusion to give false statements, unnecessary holding up of cases, disallowing of evidence, misleading of juries and other means, including failures of both the Crown Prosecution Service and the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Many more pictures of the march and memorial on My London Diary at Still No Justice for Ricky Bishop.


Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock – 2016

Tuesday, September 19th, 2023

Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock: Three very different protests in London on Monday 19th September 2016


Save Brixton Railway Arches

Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock - 2016

Network Rail and Lambeth Council want to evict the small local businesses from the Railway arches, some of which have been serving the community for as long as anyone can remember. The sites will be refurbished and the rents trebled, so the new Atlantic Road ‘Village’ will be home to “loads of bland, overpriced, soulless branded shops that nobody wants“. This is clearly another disturbing step in the ongoing gentrification of Brixton being pursued by Lambeth Council.

Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock - 2016

When railways where built in London in the nineteenth century much of the land they ran across was already occupied by houses, shops and other businesses. Putting the rails on top of long viaducts was a cheaper and much less disruptive way of bringing the railways into the city then putting the lines at or below ground level.

Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock - 2016

This created long runs of arches below the viaducts as well as bridges over existing roads, and these arches were soon filled largely by small local businesses for which they provided relatively low rent premises. Many of them later became garages and other businesses connected with cars, lorries and taxis, but those in the centre of Brixton where the arches had frontages on Atlantic Road and Brixton Station Road were occupied by a whole range of shops.

Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock - 2016

Almost all of these were small businesses serving the local community – selling food, clothing, furniture, carpets, general stores, cafes, bars. Some well-known shops had been in the same arch since the 1930s.

Gentrification, Life Jackets & Standing Rock - 2016

Network Rail wanted to evict all these tenants so the arches could be refurbished and then re-let at hugely increased rents to increase their profits by replacing valued local businesses by the kind of bland high-price chains and franchises that have blighted high streets across the country. And Lambeth Council were backing them against a strong local ‘Save Brixton Arches’ campaign.

Few if any of the existing businesses could survive the long gap in trading for the revamping on the arches, and none would be viable at the increased rents. Many of them had decided to fight the evictions despite being threatened that if they legally challenged them they would not be offered leases after refurbishment.

On this Monday Network Rail had been intending to evict another of the traders, Budget Carpets, and people including from the local Green Party and the party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartlett, local Labour councillor Rachel Heywood and Simon Elmer from ASH had come to oppose the eviction. Rachel Heywood, a Labour councillor since 2006, was opposed to this and other policies such as library closures and council estate demolitions being pursued by the right-wing Labour cabinet and in 2018 was banned from the Labour Party for 5 years after it was announced she would stand as an independent.

The protest led to Network Rail postponing the eviction. The protesters then went into Brixton Market for a meeting where traders talked about how they have been bullied and their decision to fight the evictions.

More pictures at Brixton Railway Arches.


Life Jacket ‘graveyard’ – Parliament Square

The International Rescue Commission laid out 2,500 life jackets previously worn by adults and children refugees to cross from Turkey to Greece in Parliament Square as a reminder of the continuing deaths by drowning there.

The protest urged the UK to do more to welcome refugees to the UK and to meet the promises already made, and was criticised by a few bigots on the extreme right. Unfortunately instead the UK government has listened increasingly to the bigots and brought in even more repressive anti-migrant laws while failing to provide safe passages for migrants except for some very limited special cases.

Everyone wearing this lifejackets and those who have arrived in Europe since then in similar circumstances is now a criminal under UK law should they manage to get to this country.

At the protest I met again Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley who I had photographed earlier in Brixton. He told me his tweet about refugees and this life-jacket protest had attracted many extremely racist comments.

Life Jacket ‘graveyard’


London Stands with Standing Rock – US Embassy

Later in the day I went to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square where people attended a non-violent, prayerful act of solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe threatened by the construction of a huge oil pipeline close to their reservation in North Dakota and the Missouri River.

A protest at the pipeline which threatens the water supply of the tribe and 8 million people who live downstream has attracted several thousands from around 120 Native American tribes and their allies around the world and 70 have been arrested at gunpoint.

Although the protest has attracted many journalists who like the protesters have been harassed by police (and some protested) there has been very little press coverage. The pipeline had already resulted in the destruction of several sacred sites.

You can read more about the pipeline on Wikipedia. Legal injunctions on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were denied. The Obama administration attempted to get some re-routing of the pipeline but one of the first things Trump did on coming to power was to approve its construction. It was completed later in 2017 and put into service. Despite various court rulings since that there had not been proper environmental reviews it remains in operation.

More pictures at London Stands with Standing Rock.