Posts Tagged ‘candlelit vigil’

‘Free the Table’ and more

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

Five years ago on Saturday 12th December I had another busy day travelling to events around London. I began at Stratford on the east of London, the opposite side of London to where I live, but now a relatively easy journey since the opening of the Jubilee line there at the end of 1999.

For the previous couple of years I’d been following the progress and protests of Focus E15, formed when Newham Council planned to close down a hostel for young mothers in Stratford and scatter them to private rented accommodation often hundreds of miles away. They stood their ground and got more local rehousing, but, appalled by the activities of the council and its Mayor Robin Wales, continued to take action over the failure of Newham Council to sensibly address the acute housing problem in the borough, which has around 5,000 people living in temporary accommodation and while 400 homes in the Carpenters Estate close to the centre of Stratford have been empty for up to ten years. They accuse the council of ‘social cleansing’, attempting to force those needing housing out of London.

Apart from various actions, including preventing evictions and embarrassing the Mayor by confronting him at public events Focus E15 had held a weekly Saturday street stall on the wide pavement at Stratford Broadway, handing out leaflets and advice to the public on housing issues.

Although their weekly protest was legal, it clearly annoyed the council, and on Saturday 5th December Newham Law Enforcement officer John Oddie arrived, assisted by several police officers and confronted the campaigners and told them they were not allowed to protest there, and that unless they immediately packed up their stall, sound system, banners and other gear it would be seized. The group made clear that they would not move and following some argument, police seized a table and threw it in the back of their van.

It soon became clear that this action by police and the council officer had been illegal, and the council asked the protesters to come and collect the table. They replied asking the council to return it to them at the following week’s protest, and advertised this widely as a ‘Free the Focus E15 Table’ event, making considerable humorous mileage out of the council and police gaffe. The council didn’t turn up with the table, but there a number of other tables there, celebrating ‘Tablegate’ and although the local newspaper seemed to be boycotting the event (could they possibly attract considerable revenue from publishing official council notices) a BBC local news crew came along to film a few interviews.

Free the Focus E15 Table


I couldn’t stay until the end but caught the tube back to central London where the Campaign against Climate Change were protesting against the inadequacy of the COP21 Paris deal, which sets the target temperature rise too high, has no way to enforce the measures needed and will allow the giant corporations to continue to prevent governments from carrying out effective green measures.

After a short rally in Old Palace Yard the protesters unrolled a 300m length of bright red fabric, carrying it above their heads across Westminster Bridge. It was a tricky to photograph but visually effective reminder of the need of governments to take urgent action to keep fossil fuels – including shale oil, with fracking now shown to be as dirty as coal – in the ground, or at least only to be extracted as chemical feedstock rather than fuel, and an increased urgency in the transition to renewable energy.


As I was photographing on Westminster Bridge, I was surprised to see a group of several hundred Santas on BMX bikes riding across on the opposite carriageway and rushed across to take a few pictures. I later found that this was an annual BMX Charity ride – which I went to photograph in 2019.

Later in the day I went to Trafalgar Square where a completely unconnected Santa-themed event was taking place, with Santas arriving at the end of the annual Santacon, a largely alcohol fuelled festive costume ramble through London.

Pictures from both Santa events are in Santas in London.


In late afternoon, solidarity campaigners and Syrian activists met for a vigil opposite Downing St vigil demanded justice for refugees, opening of EU borders to those fleeing war and terrorism and a much more generous response from the UK government.

It was a candlelit vigil, but a gusty wind blew out the flames as soon as they were lit until someone went to buy plastic cups to act as windshields though these rather hid the actual flames.

The response of the British government to the refugee crisis, particularly from Syria, but also from elsewhere around the world is seen by many to be abysmal. Even after considerable pushing from the British people which forced David Cameron to increase numbers, the UK was only promising to take 20,000 in the next five years, while Canada will take more – 25,000 – in a single year.



Christmas Solidarity Vigil for Refugees
Santas in London
Climate Activists Red Line protest
Free the Focus E15 Table


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.


November 2014 (2)

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

The Wednesday of the final week of November in 2014 was an easier day for me as I was able to spend most of it at home and catching up on various things including a little shopping and visiting the library to borrow new books to occupy me on my train rides to London. I only had to leave home around 5pm to arrive in Aldgate for the Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special outside the tower with separate entrances for its wealthy and its social housing tenants.

After 19 weekly protests outside the ‘rich door’ the tower owners had finally agreed to talk with Class War and try to reach a solution to the problem, and in response Class War had agreed to call off further protests unless the talks failed. So this was more of a celebration than a protest, although the talks, when they took place didn’t really reach a satisfactory conclusion.

But there were some concessions and the protests did lead to some real improvements including new paving and lighting and better cleaning for the side alley which lead to the ‘poor door’, and perhaps more importantly they raised the whole issue of segregated entrances very much into the national agenda.

I was sorry to have to rush away from the celebrations, which I suspect continued afterwards in one of the local pubs.


A tube ride took me across town to the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square, and the Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown.

In August, police officer Darren Wilson had shot and killed Michael Brown Jr, an 18-year-old black man in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s companion said that Wilson had grabbed Brown through his car window after calling on them to stop as they walked down the street; Brown, who was unarmed, tried to grab the officer’s gun as he threatened him and two shots were fired, one hitting Brown’s hand. Brown and his friend fled and when Wilson fired again, Brown turned around, raised his hands in surrender and shouted ‘Don’t Shoot!’ and Wilson fired six more bullets into his body. Wilson’s account differed greatly and a grand jury having heard decided not to indict him.

Riots followed the shooting, continuing for over a week in Ferguson, and there were protests across America and worldwide against the shooting, using the slogan ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!’ There were further protests in 170 cities after the grand jury verdict was announced, and elsewhere across the world including this candlelit vigil in London called by London Black Revolutionaries and the NUS Black Students Campaign. Among those who spoke at the event were the Chair of London Campaign Against State & Police Violence, Malia Bouattia of NUS Black Students Campaign, Zita Holbourne of BARAC (above), Marcia Rigg, Carole Duggan, the RMT Paddington Branch Secretary, Wail Qaisim of Defend the Right to Protest and some people from London Black Revs.

Whatever actually happened in Ferguson, it is clear that US policing is racist, killing black people disproportionately, and acting – as Wilson did – out of fear due often due to racist stereotyping. Black Lives Matter – but not very much to some US Police forces and officers.

There was little or no street lighting in the area in front of the US Embassy where this protest took place, and for most of these pictures the main light present came from the candles and nightlights that were held by the protesters. A very tightly packed crowd made working in it difficult. When I got to the front of the protest there were some videographers at times using lighting which I took advantage of, but it seldom produces an attractive effect.

It was unfortunate the the Socialist Workers Party had decided to hold their own separate protest before this, probably because the organising groups had declined to let them take it over, but at least they did allow this vigil to use the public address equipment they had brought for their event. And many of those taking part are holding the placards that they provided in very large numbers.

When covering events at night I usually carry a small LED light which can illuminate people or objects a up to a few metres from the camera, usually holding it high and away from my body in my left hand while holding the camera to my eye with my right hand to give better lighting than using it in the hot shoe. If I have to, I’ll use my Nikon SB800 flash in the hot shoe, still using high ISOs to try and avoid a black background, usually with the camera on manual or shutter priority with speeds around 1/30s.


More on both events:
Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown
Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special


Christchurch vigil

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

There was a strong reason to hold the vigil for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks outside the offices of The Sun newspaper. Murdoch’s papers have for years led the promotion of xenophobic views on immigration, on Europe and of simplistic right-wing views around the world, along with the misogyny exemplified by its ‘page 3’.

As I wrote in My ‘London Diary’:

Increasing numbers of Islamophobic incidents are taking place in the USA, Nigeria, Palestine, China and the UK, fueled by extreme right groups who are encouraged and emboldened by Islamophobic articles in newspapers, across the whole of the right-wing UK press, but particularly The Sun and other Murdoch titles worldwide who have engaged in a long campaign of demonisation of Muslims, and on our major broadcast media as well as on social media.

My London Diary:
http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2019/03/mar.htm#christchurch

You can see many more pictures from the event there.

I had taken both my Nikon D801 and the fairly newly bought Olympus E-M5MarkII with me, and began the event working mainly with the Olympus, which coped well in the fading light. But when it got really dark I began to severely underexpose with the Olympus, largely I think because I was simply unfamiliar with the camera.

Given that the viewfinder image comes from the sensor, I had assumed that if the viewfinder image looked good, the pictures recorded would be OK. But it didn’t seem to work like that, or at least not on the camera settings I was using. Even after using the camera regularly for over 3 months I still find its behaviour rather a mystery at times.

Of course almost all modern cameras are greatly over-complex, overloaded with features largely driven by the advertising departments. Even though I find using either of my two currently working Nikons generally straightforward, they can still throw in the occasional oddball when using flash. But I have much greater problems with both Olympus and Fuji mirrorless cameras, though rather different with the two makes.

But the Nikon D810 performed without problems, producing all of the usable later pictures using the available light, mainly from the candles. Part of the reason it worked better was undoubtedly that because I was using a wider lens I was also using a slower shutter speed, around 1/15s though that did mean a few images were spoiled by subject movement.

Vigil and protest for Christchurch victims


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images


Vigil mourns deaths on our streets

Saturday, June 29th, 2019

It is appalling that we have so many people homeless and living on the streets in what is still one of the richer countries of the world. And even more appalling that so many of them are there as a direct result of government policies. While Labour didn’t have a great record on dealing with homelessness, since the Tories came to power (at first with the support of the Lib-Dems) in 2010, the numbers of those sleeping rough have increased dramatically as a result of benefit sanctions and changes to benefits, in particular the introduction of Universal Credit, which has led to a remarkable number of people being evicted from their homes, unable to pay the rent.

My wife volunteers to work part time in a food bank in a relatively affluent area, where before 2010 there was no need for food banks, and the great majuority of the people who are referred to them as needing assistance need it because of the deliberate failures and actions of the benefits system.

‘One death is one too many’ was the clear message on one of the banners – and on its reverse were the names of around a hundred people who had died as a result of benefit cuts – a very small sample of the many thousands who have met premature death – academic studies suggest over 100,000 since 2010.

The protest was organised by a number of groups who help people in desperate circumstances on our streets, providing food and where they can shelter – despite the response of some local councils wh have passed by-laws to criminalise giving people food on the streets. I think anyone with any humanity should be angry about what is happening here.

Nikon

Strictly from a photographic viewpoint, I was interested to see how my recently purchased Olympus E-M5MarkII compared with the Nikon D810 working in low light. Despite being on a major street, the light on the pavement is fairly low. The Nikon has a full-frame sensor while the Olympus is a Micro Four Thirds system camera, with a sensor area roughly a quarter of the size. It also has a rather smaller pixel count.

Olympus

The difference in the images taken at ISO6400 is noticeable when viewed at full size, and still apparent when I view them at roughly A4 size. But the Olympus still produces usable images, far better than I could have obtained using film. And as the grain of my Tri-X images seldom if ever bothered me, neither does the slight tooth of these digital images. But perhaps I prefer the Nikon colour, though as is clear in the top image (Nikon, no flash) there are several light sources of different colour temperatures in the frame.

I don’t like to use flash at events like this, as it seems rather intrusive, and it’s too easy to lose the atmosphere of the candle light, but I did feel I needed to take as least some pictures using flash, and as I had the Nikon SB800 with me, used this for some pictures with the Nikon D810. I think I got the light balance about right in most of them and you can see the difference the flash makes from this pair of pictures both taken at 1/40th, f5.6, ISO 6,400, -0.3EV

More on the protest and more pictures: No more deaths on our streets


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images