Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

Class War & The Shard – 2018

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Class War & The Shard – 2018.

Ian Bone raises a fist as he comes out of the Royal Courts of Justice

February 8th 2018 was a good day for Class War, beginning with a visit to the High Court at the Royal Courts of Justice, where thanks to barrister Ian Brownhill they emerged triumphant after stopping an attempt by lawyers acting for the Qatari royal family to prevent a Class War protest against the ten empty £50million pound apartments in The Shard.

Lawyers for the Qataris had tried to get an injunction against protests by Bone and “persons unknown” and to claim over £500 in legal costs from the 70 year-old south London pensioner, and the case had attracted considerable publicity in the media including an article by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian and another in Le Monde and many more.

Brownhill offered to conduct Bone’s defence pro-bono and contacted the Quatari’s solicitors who immediately offered to drop the case if Class War ‘would stop attacking the Shard’ whatever that meant. In the High Court the Qataris’ lawyers were forced to drop the attempt to ban protests and the demand for fees but Bone accepted a legal restriction on him going inside the Shard and its immediate vicinity.

The case also showed the police’s insecurity over Class War and documents presented in court on behalf of the Qataris clearly showed they had been given documents by the police including one with clearly defamatory false statements about another person associated with Class War who was not named in the injunction.

Another document presented was a surprising testimonial about Class War which made it sound a rather more impressive and powerful organisation than the small but influential irritant to the rich and unscrupulous it is. The police probably the source for this certainly seem to share the lawyers’ delusions of the organisations grandeur, with an unusually strong police presence outside the court and around a corner clearly outnumbering the Class War supporters.

So the protest that evening took place as Class War intended, pointing out that the ten £50m apartments in the Shard had remained empty since the building was completed. The protest stressed that these were just a small fraction of the plans to build another 26,000 flats costing more than a million pounds each across London, many replacing current social housing a time when London has a huge housing crisis with thousands sleeping on the street, and over 100 families from Grenfell are still in temporary accommodation.

As Class War stated, there are already a huge number of empty properties in London, many in large development of high priced flats which either remain unsold or are bought as investments and largely unoccupied. What the capital needs is not luxury flats but much more social housing – and to keep existing housing on council estates under threat of demolition.

The protest, as planned, was peaceful but very noisy, and again policed by a ridiculously large number of police and private security. Ian Bone’s poor health meant he was in any case unable to attend in person. The protesters were careful to remain outside the boundary of The Shard, marked with a metal line in the pavement, but police still tried to move them away to the other side of the road, making the patently spurious claim that they were causing an obstruction to commuters attempting to enter London Bridge station. The only real obstruction to commuters attempting to enter the station were the lines of police across their route.

More on My London Diary
Class War protest at Shard
Class War victory against Qatari Royals

Happy New YEAR? We Can Hope

Saturday, January 1st, 2022

London, UK. 1st May 2021. Several thousands held a rally in Trafalgar Square before marching past the Ministries of Justice, DWP and Education to the Home Office against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which will ban effective protests, criminalising many and create new offences with heavy sentences, discriminating against Gypsy, Roma and Travellers and expanding racist stop and search powers. Peter Marshall

Happy New YEAR? We Can Hope. We can only hope 2022 will be a better year than 2021, though despite everything I found plenty to enjoy in the last year. But I’m not making any resolutions, other than to try and keep going as best I can.

Some Thoughts on 2021

The first few months, still under lockdown and largely isolating at home were dull. When a trip to the dentists is the highlight of your week you know there is something seriously wrong.

London, UK. 1st May 2021

But the vaccinations – my first at the end of January and the second in mid-April – were very welcome. I’ve no sympathy for those who refused them, their arguments are entirely specious – like those for not wearing masks – apart from a very small group with genuine medical reasons.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

I was fortunate not to have more than a little soreness from the needle for the day or two after the injection. Though I was rather disappointed when a few weeks later a lateral flow blood test for antibodies gave a negative result, though these tests are apparently even less reliable than those for Covid – where I’ve been pleased so far to always get a negative.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

But a couple of weeks after the second dose I felt confident enough – despite my advanced years and diabetes – to go up to London rather than miss another May Day. Although the official May Day March was cancelled there was a large protest taking place. The pictures here are all from that day.

London, UK. 1st May 2021

Of course I wore a mask – as did many of those in the protest against the Tory bill attempting to seriously limit our rights to protest also did, even though we were out of doors. It did after all get quite crowded on the streets. Even some of the police wore masks.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

It was good then and on later days when I went up to London to meet many I’d not seen for over a year, though sad to remember there are some I won’t see again, largely victims of the Boris Johnson’s failures to bring in effective measures in time.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

As the year went on I continued making occasional visits to London to photograph events, though many were still cancelled. I decided also to cut down on the number of events I attended, concentrating on those I felt more strongly about that were taking place on Saturdays, seldom covering things during the week. And although I’ve not posted these on my own web site, pictures are available on Alamy. You can go to my Alamy portfolio page to see them all.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

I also began occasionally meeting socially with family and a few friends – though still rather cautiously and keeping in mind the need to avoid too much risk. We kept mainly outdoors and mainly ate in near-empty pubs.

But then came Omicron, since when things for me have rather closed down again, even though I got my booster early. We had Christmas and Boxing Day meals with only two of our immediate family and I’ve again stopped going to London.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

On the plus side, the hiatus since early March 2019 has given me the time to get to grips with digitising and posting online many photographs from my early years – now almost to the end of 1992 with the black and white work. Now I have over 18,000 images on-line in albums on Flickr, mainly black and white images of London – but also Hull and Paris and a few other places, and some in colour.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

So far those images have generated over 4.5 million views and a considerable amount of feedback, though rather to my surprise much of this has been about the cars on the streets in some pictures rather than the buildings or people I was photographing.

London, UK. 1st May 2021.

I think though I’ve not checked that I’ve also managed to put a post here on >Re:PHOTO for every day in 2021, something I can’t promise to do for 2022. It takes up quite bit of my time, though it helps that I can write the posts a day or two in advance and schedule them to be posted.


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Time for a New Magna Carta

Saturday, June 12th, 2021

Police stop a man entering the Eco-Village

Six years ago I went to the start of an event being held to mark 800 years since the Barons forced King Young to sign Magna Carta which placed important limitations on the power of the king and state and set in law important freedoms – at least for Barons. It was followed not long after by other charters which made those freedoms apply more widely.

Police watched me as I took pictures at the Runnymede entrance earlier in the day

The signing took place somewhere at Runnemede, though there seems to be no agreement at exactly where on this relatively wide are of flood plain between Staines where the barons stayed the previous night and Windsor where the king had his castle, though my own choice (on no historical basis) would be Ankerwyke, a little east of Magna Carta Island and to the north of the River Thames which I think back in those days proabably made most of that flat plain the National Trust calls Runnemede uncomfortably muddy.

16 June 2012

Back on 16th June 2012 I’d sat in a circle of Diggers camped nearby on Cooper’s Hill next to the Magna Carta Memorial erected by the US Bar Association listening to a lecturer from Royal Holloway about both Magna Carta and the ‘Charter of the Forest’ issued shortly after, and discussing their plans for the future. A friendly police officer and a man from the National Trust came along to see what was happening and gave us some information about the area

One of the well-organised public areas of the eco-village

There are pretty large areas of unused land in Surrey and the Diggers had come out from a community allotment in Syon Lane in Brentford to make a widely publicised occupation of a small neglected area of Windsor Great Park. Local residents assured them that nothing had been done on this land for many years, but they were served with injunctions and the Crown Estate produced someone to say he was shortly to crop the dense growth of nettles for silage. They moved on, camped overnight at Runnymede and then occupied a piece of land owned by Royal Holloway College. RHUL were fast to serve injunctions though I think 9 years later the land is still not used, but the diggers found a better site a short distance away in the grounds of the former Shoreditch College, which had been sold to a developer in 2007, who had not yet been able to find the cash or get planning permission.

The 2012 meeting decided enthusastically they would hold a people’s celebration of the popular celebration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta on their site and had done a great deal of planning for it as I saw when I arrived on 12 June 2015. There was also a general agreement that something needed to be done to reclaim civil liberties that have been eroded over recent years with various suggestions for action and perhaps a new people’s charter. The events of 2015 made this very clear – and things including the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill now make this far more urgent.

Vinny’s badge says ‘Who Protects Us From the Police’

What we saw on Friday 12 June 2015 was a completely politically motivated operation against the community and its many friends to prevent their long-planned celebrations of Magna Carta, a charter supposed to represent freedom under the law but here at its very source 800 years ago it was being suppressed in an unfair and arbitrary manner by the forces of the Law.

Another meeting area with a piano

Police or state security had put about fake rumours about a planned ‘rave’ on the football field next to their camp, and claimed to be ‘protecting people’ but I’d seen them clearly refusing entry to visitors to the fenced-off Eco-Village which was a clearly safe place. I listened to one of the officers in charge talking with Phoenix, one of the event organisers and it was very clear not only that he was lying but that he knew he was lying. Reading the Surrey police web site later that evening it made it clear that the police action was a deliberate attempt to prevent the planned festival from going ahead. Together with Surrey County Council they had made an order under Section 63 of the The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which allows police power to restrict access, remove people and issue exclusion orders. It seemed a clear abuse of a law intended for quite different purposes, of stopping illegal raves, and though a number of people were arrested after having been given exclusion orders banning them from coming within five miles of the village, I don’t think any of their cases came to court.

Luke, a trained forester tells me the woods have been neglected

As I left, despite my press card I was also handed a notice of exclusion, though it would have banned me from my home for three days. At the time I wrote:

It would indeed seem a travesty if at a time when we are celebrating 800 years of freedom under the law against the arbitrary power of the state achieved at Runnymede, the authorities should abuse the law by using those arbitrary powers to prevent a people’s celebration of freedom

Although police stopped many and arrested some, others found ways in over the fence and the festival continued though on a reduced scale. The Eco Village residents were summoned to court on the Monday of their festival, when the Queen was attending official celebrations at Runnymede. Few attended and the court refused to listen to their case, simply making an order for eviction, apparently on the basis that the right of private property trumps all other rights. But again the state acted clumsily, and a a few days later Mr Justice Knowles in the High Court ordered a stay of execution accepting that many matters raised by the applicants might not of been dealt with adequately by the lower Court. Interestingly their case included the assertion of rights granted by Magna Carta and its 1217 companion Charter of the Forest as well as the rather more recent European Convention on Human Rights. But they failed to convince the courts that these were a part of our Law, and three months later the High Court issued an order for eviction , which was carried out rather brutally. The site is now a luxury gated village with prices starting around £1.2 million for a 1-bed flat. Some of the residents came to Staines and occupied a former adult education centre which had been empty for some years. They were evicted after around six weeks despite considerable local support for their plans to make the building a local community hub – six years later it remains boarded up and unused.

More at Police threaten Runnymede Magna Carta festival


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.


On the Third Day

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

The rather tense stand-off between police and Extinction Rebellion protesters who were still blocking much of Westminster continued, with the police at times adopting rather rougher tactics, including the deliberate destruction of tents and other property as well as making arrests.

XR’s protest continued to be rather remarkable, with street performers, music and mimes including Charlie X as well as XR’s red and green robed troupes.

People were still determined to continue their protest and it was clear that the police were coming under increasing political pressure to end them, though quite a few officers seemed rather unhappy at what they were being ordered to do.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had attacked the protesters, insulting them as ‘crusties’ but was still failing to take any action. XR’s demands remain, calling for the government tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, act to halt biodiversity loss, reduced emissions to net zero and create and be led by a Citizens Assembly.

There were many arrests during the day, with XR’s non-violent approach being maintained, and police succeeded in clearing some of the areas.

Extinction Rebellion Day 3


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.

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.


Rebellion continues

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The second day of Extinction Rebellion’s shutdown of Westminster was in some respects a disturbing one for those of us who believe in civil liberties and the rule of law, with the police moving in at times like a group of thugs and deliberately destroying the property of the protesters.

XR have a dedication to non-violence and made no attempt to stop the police or to resist the arrests that took place, and the use of force seemed quite uncalled for. Of course large scale acts of civil disobedience do cause inconvenience and annoyance to others, but the response of a civilised society should be to try and resolve the issues rather than to attack the protesters.

Those who break laws can and in the case of XR do expect to be arrested but should not be assaulted and too many arrests that I saw seemed to involve an unnecessary use of violence and deliberate infliction of pain.

One new banner read ‘CLIMATE STRUGGLE = CLASS STRUGGLE’ and it is perhaps hard not to see the police as a force being used by the small group of those who are rich and powerful to protect their own narrow interests at the expense of the rest of the people. Their more vigorous response on this second day of protest can only have been a result of considerable political pressure on them to subdue the protests. They clearly came not to keep the peace but to try and win a battle.

As you can see from my pictures, the protests were still continuing at various sites around Westminster and the general atmosphere was something of a festival. But a festival with a great deal of commitment by people desperate that our government take effective action against the most serious problem faced by the country and the world. We are just beginning to see a government forced into taking belated action against the threat posed by COVID-19, but we need a similar level of action against climate change that otherwise will be even more catastrophic.

‘Everything Will Change’ whether we like it or not, but we have a choice to make changes which may avert the extinction of our species. But our government continues to fiddle while the planet burns.

More at Extinction Rebellion continues.


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.


Boycott Puma

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Back in 1924 the two Dassler brothers founded a shoe factory in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany, the first company in the world to specialise in sports footwear, working together until 1948 when they decided to split the company into two, forming Adidas and Puma, becoming bitter rivals, both still based in Herzogenaurach and producing sports and leisure footwear and clothing. Adidas is now the second largest sportswear manufacturer in the world, and Puma is number three.

Puma sponsors many athletes and clubs in different sports around the world, including Manchester City. InMinds Islamic human rights group protest outside the Puma Carnaby Street store because they say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.

The protesters say these settlements constitute a war crime under international law and 215 Palestinian sports clubs have asked Puma to respect human rights and cut its ties with the IFA. Puma has failed to do so.

Inminds supports the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people and campaigns for people to oppose the cruel treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli state and by some Israeli citizens, particularly those from some of the settlements who attack Palestinians. It points out the different treatment of Palestinians which amount to an Apartheid system. One of the banners reminds people that on average Israel imprisons a Palestinian child every 12 hours and kills one every 60 hours, and it destroys a Palestinian home every 9 hours. Another poster points to the 221 Palestinian prisoners who have been killed in Israeli jails, either by torture or medical neglect.

Many of those passing the protest were shocked to hear these statistics and others on the leaflets that were handed out, and some stopped to take photographs with the protesters. One man stopped briefly to shout insults at the protesters, and similar protests have often been opposed by Zionist protesters, at times violently as video taken by the group and posted online shows.

A similar protest here in October 2018 came under attack by two well-known anti-Palestinian activists, who in June 2019 pleaded guilty to charges of harassment and threatening behaviour after the prosecution agreed to drop more serious charges of assault. As well as fining one and imposing a community curfew on the other, Hendon Magistrates Court imposed an “indefinite” restraining order on both, barring them from coming within ten metres of three of the pro-Palestinian activists.  

Inminds take pains to avoid anti-Semitic attitudes and comments in their posters and literature and their protests often include Jewish supporters, but they robustly support the human rights of Palestinians and oppose the oppressive restraints of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.

A few more pictures at Carnaby St Puma Boycott.


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.