Posts Tagged ‘climate crisis’

XR defies illegal police ban

Friday, October 16th, 2020

On 6th November 2019 the High Court ruled that the ban on all protests by Extinction Rebellion in London that the Metropolitan Police had imposed on 14 October 2019 after a week of protests in XR’s ‘Autumn Uprising’ was unlawful. It was a misuse of the Public Order Act which was intended to allow police to manage protests but not to ban them, and the ‘Autumn Uprising’ was not a ‘public assembly’ as defined by the Act.

As seems often to be the case, the police had deliberately misused the law – and presumably would have taken legal advice that would have told them so. Doubtless they acted under strong political pressure from the highest levels of our government, and this can be seen as yet another case where the government has been found to be deliberately breaking the law.

XR continued to protest calling for urgent action by the government over climate breakdown, species loss and the risk of social and ecological collapse leading to mass extinction, while the government continued to fail to make any response in the Queen’s Speech outlining their programme for the year on Monday 14th October.

There had been arrests by the police when protests took place against the ban on the 14th, and the following day I photographed police warning XR activists who were gathering for the ‘No Food No Future’ protest opposite the MI5 HQ on Millbank before leaving to photograph a protest against the ban led by the Green Party which was taking place in Trafalgar Square. As well as several Green MEPs and party co-leader Sian Berry, those speaking included XR’s Rupert Read and an Irish and German MEP, and around a hundred XR campaigners came to join them. There were no arrests while I was there.

XR’s main protest against the ban came on the Wednesday, also in Trafalgar Square. While the police had ruled that even two people standing anywhere in London advocating action on climate change was an illegal assembly, several thousands had come to protest. There were a long series of speeches before XR held a general meeting in the square.

Many, including George Monbiot, had come to the event with the deliberate intention of being arrested, and after police seemed reluctant to act in Trafalgar Square they went to sit down and block traffic in Whitehall, where police made arrests for breach of the illegal ban.

In the early evening, XR held another protest outside at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp HQ at London Bridge demanding that his papers tell the truth about the climate crisis. Rather to their surprise they found that this protest was legal as the area outside the offices is private land and the illegal ban only applied to public places.

The Murdoch press has a particularly bad record of climate denial, but most of our other media are also guilty. Most of our newspapers are owned by a handful of billionaires who also have interests in fossil fuels, and even the BBC has given completely undue prominence to unqualified climate deniers and politicians in a misguided interpretation of ‘balance’ rather than reporting the overwhelming evidence of experts.

More about these protests and many more pictures on My London Diary:

XR demands Murdoch tell the truth
XR defies protest ban
Protest defends freedom of speech
XR No Food No Future protest


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

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


XR October 2019

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

A year ago in October I was having a busy few days covering Extinction Rebellion’s International Rebellion in London. The event had started early on the 7th October when XR supporters occupied eleven locations at government ministries, outside Downing St, on The Mall, and blocking both Westminster and Lambeth bridges, bringing traffic in that area of central London to a halt. Outside the actual areas blocked, traffic was also largely gridlocked over a much wider area.

For the next couple of days the only ways to get around in the area was by tube and on foot. Police were initially overwhelmed by the sheer number of campaigners and the area covered by the protests, and added to the chaos by themselves closing off some routes to traffic and pedestrians.

The protests of course got considerable coverage in the press and broadcasting media, mainly around the disruption the protest was causing with rather less attention to the reasons why XR felt their actions were necessary to try and get our government to take the actions we need to avoid disaster and possible extinction of human life.

Probably few who only followed the media reports would have become aware of XR’s three demands, that the government tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, act to halt biodiversity loss, reduced emissions to net zero and create and set up a Citizens Assembly to ensure that proper action is taken. Our democracy is failing because politicians serve the sectional interests of the powerful few rather than the needs of us all.

I didn’t quite manage to get to all eleven of the occupied sites on Monday, though I did visist and photograph most of them. The highlight of the day for me was the wedding in the centre of Westminster Bridge between two campaigners, Tamsin and Melissa. I’d first photographed Tamsin when Climate Rush re-enacted the 1908 Suffragette storming of Parliament on its 100th anniversary and had got to know her better during later protests including those against the third runway at Heathrow, but hadn’t seen her for five years.

A year ago today, October 8th, was the second day of XR’s protests. By now the police were beginning to take back parts of the area, having made many arrests overnight.

I think many of the protesters were shocked as I was at the deliberate violence and destruction of property when occupied areas were trashed by police, and for some it perhaps made them question the XR policy of non-violence. Standing and shouting ‘Shame on You’ as police assaulted protesters and trashed tents and food stalls turned out not to be very effective.

The day turned out to be a long one for me, as after spending my time with XR I made my way to Camden for a protest by Architects for Social Housing (ASH) outside the champagne reception at the Royal Institute of British Architects awards ceremony for the Stirling Prize. Architects, like our politicians, are largely the servants of the rich and the awards reflect this. ASH were particularly angered by the new Neave Brown Award, supposedly honouring the recently deceased champion and architect of council housing at the Dunboyne Road Estate (formerly known as Fleet Road) and Alexandra Road Estate both in Camden, being awarded to a scheme for a commercial company owned by Norwich Council which demolished council housing to build properties which will not be offering secure council tenancies, with nothing to stop the company raising the service charges or converting the few social rent homes in it to so-called ‘affordable’ rents in the future.

The images here are a small and fairly random selection from the many that I took, and you can see more of them and read more about the protests on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion continues
XR Rebels marry on Westminster Bridge
Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster

Stirling Prize for Architecture


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.


Murdoch Tell The Truth

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

In October Extinction Rebellion were subject to an illegal ban by the Metropolitan Police on gatherings of more than two people across London – and although they had mounted a legal challenge things in the courts tend to move slowly, and it was only in November that the court ruled against the police.

The police had obviously been subjected to a great deal of political pressure from Government ministers and doubtless also from the Prime Minister to do something to end XR’s Autumn protests which had been remarkably successful in blocking traffic in central Westminster but more importantly in bringing home to people across the country the existential threat posed by climate change and the requirement for drastic and urgent action to try to prevent species extinction.

I imagine the police had been told to take action, legal or not, to bring the protest to an end, as despite the huge power of our billionaire-owned press and government dominated media the message was beginning to get through that ‘business as usual’ was no longer an option. We need to change the system dramatically to survive.

Our newspapers are almost entirely owned and controlled by a handful of billionaires, the most prominent of them being Rupert Murdoch, with The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun (as well as the Times Literary Supplement and a part-share in the Press Association.) Wikipedia also lists a dozen UK radio stations, as well of course many other news organisations and other corporations in Australia, the US and internationally owned by his mass media company News Corp, including the Wall Street Journal.

Murdoch papers claim to have been the major influence behind UK elections since the 1990’s when The Sun claimed it was ‘The Sun Wot Won It‘ for John Major against Neil Kinnock, and making similar claims for all more recent elections. And certainly the press and broadcast media including but not only Murdoch’s papers, have been very important in all recent political campaigns – including the election of Keir Starmer as leader of the Labour party. Even such nominally independent bodies as the BBC have their coverage highly influenced by the attitudes taken by the press.

Murdoch through his media outlets has consistently downplayed and denied climate change and its effects – and even his son James during the recent bush fires in Australia expressed his frustration at the ongoing climate crisis denial in News Corp and Fox News’ coverage of the fires. Murdoch has been a powerful influencer both on governments and public opinion against the need to cut our reliance on coal and fossil fuels and other measures to needed to drastically reduce carbon emissions.

The protest at Murdoch’s News Corp HQ at London Bridge demanding that his papers tell the truth about the climate crisis had of course been planned months or weeks in advance of the police protest ban. But because the area in front of the office where the protest took place is private property it was not covered by the Section 14 ban and was thus legal.

More at XR demands Murdoch tell the truth.


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.


Trafalgar Square protests

Saturday, April 4th, 2020
Ian Hodson, BFAWU President

Back on Saturday 12th October there were two protests taking place in Trafalgar Square and it was raining. One was by trade unionists supporting Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikers, and there was a powerful speech from Ian Hodson, National President of the Baker’s Union BFAWU.  His union is one of the older and smaller unions in the TUC, founded in 1847 in Manchester though it has changed its name a couple of times.

The BFAWU is a union that still fights actively for its members and isn’t afraid to take on large organisations, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC in its campaign to unionise and improve pay and conditions for fast food workers.

The rain came on rather more heavily, and I kept my cameras in my camera bag or under my coat, and took rather fewer pictures than I would otherwise. Working in wet conditions is still rather a pain, even though some cameras and some lenses are ‘weatherproof’ this doesn’t really keep them going in the rain.

The 3million organisation representing the three million EU citizens who were living in the UK had come prepared, wearing blue and yellow plastic rain capes with a sticker on them also in the colours of the EU flag and the message ‘I am not a bargaining chip’.

They had come to protest at the broken promise made by the Vote Leave campaign, which had clearly stated that EU Citizens currently living in the UK would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK” in the event of Brexit. Instead we have a complex scheme of applications, with many who have applied for leave to remain having their applications rejected. Some who have lived here for over 50 years, and have children who are UK citizens may face deportation.

Together they tore up copies of the promise, though the light had dropped and the pictures I took on a longer lens were rather blurred by their motion – I hadn’t got my camera set to a high enough ISO.

I still can’t decide which is the best way to work with my digital cameras when lighting conditions are likely to change. The different cameras I use – and on this occasion it was an Olympus OMD M5 II and a Fuji XT-1 – have slightly differing implementation of auto-ISO, which would seem to be a good answer, but in practice can mean that you are too often working at full aperture.

Probably the answer is to work in manual mode, setting both aperture and shutter speed when using auto-ISO, but it is then very easy to find that either you have reached your maximum ISO set and the camera then underexposes everything, or, even worse, you are at the minimum ISO in your range and all your images are overexposed with burnt out highlights.

More on both protests:

Brexit unfair for EU citizens
Trade Unionists join the Rebellion


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.


Climate Rally for the Imagination

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

Climate Rally for the Imagination was organised for artists, designers, musicians, cultural workers and leaders to propose creative individual and collective responses to the climate emergency.

There were some heavy showers before the event began, with water on the paving giving reflections, which was good, but also getting on cameras and lenses which wasn’t.

But fortunately it stopped for a while as the event got going, as some of those taking part did look a little wet and bedraggled, probably including this photographer.

There were some interesting performances, including from folk singer Sam Lee, and some interesting presentations from people working with arts-based projects as well as at least one that seemed to me to be away with the fairies. But Extinction Rebellion has a very wide range of supporters.

Several people read from their contributions to the book ‘Letters to the Earth’ and perhaps the event became a little too much like a book promotion. But there were a number of contributions from others, about the protests over BP sponsorship of museums and culture, with a student involved speaking about the letter threatening a boycott of the Royal Shakespeare Company by school climate strikers which got the company to drop BP in days.

Another speaker had written to the Arts Council over its failure to recognise the vital importance of combating climate change through the activities it sponsors, while architect Michael Pawlyn gave a challenging analysis of current architectural practices and their contribution to climate change, spressing the newd for a new ‘regenerative architecture’.

Among those contributing to the book was environmental lawyer Farhana Yamin, arrested for protesting against Shell with Extinction Rebellion in April.

Climate Rally for the Imagination

XR Youth International

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

I had hurried back to central London to photograph an event in Trafalgar Square by Extinction Rebellion Youth International  but I had no idea what they intended to do, and I walked a couple of times around the square and saw no sign of them.

It isn’t unusual to find an event that has been posted on the Internet but doesn’t actually take place. People sometimes have an idea, set up an event on Facebook or some other listing site, then either forget about it or give up when they have failed to persuade anyone else to join them and don’t bother to post that it isn’t happening. And sometimes dates or times or locations are changed and unless you check you will be at the wrong place or at the wrong time. And some organisations can be relied on almost always to turn up late.

So I’d more or less given up on XR Youth and was thinking about photographing a couple of other things I’d seen on my way to the square when I saw a group walking into the middle of the square, some of them holding posters and I walked across and began taking pictures

They formed a large circle in the centre of the square and then sat down in silence facing outwards. And that appeared to be it, though someone did at some point make a short statement. I walked around the circle and took pictures. Some had face paint, quite a few had small XR symbols on their clothes or faces and one held up an XR flag. It seemed a very low-key protest and certainly attracted relatively little attention from the tourists who were wandering around.

There was a certain element of defiance in it. The bylaws actually prohibit protests in Trafalgar Square unless they have prior permission, but this one apparently went unnoticed by the ‘Heritage Wardens’ whose role is to enforce the regulations. They probably thought it was just another group of tourists sitting down to eat their sandwiches. Perhaps their photographs and mine, published on the web, are more important in gaining attention than the event itself.

As a static protest it would not have been illegal on the North Terrace up the steps in front of the National Gallery, which is still legally a part of the public highway, though a part that has now been pedestrianised for some years.

But rather curiously the rest of the square is the property of the Greater London authority, with bylaws set by the Mayor of London. It’s actually an offence to take photographs there, though tourists are seldom if ever prevented from doing so. And an outcry by my union and other bodies representing news photographers means that those of us with Press cards are allowed to use our cameras.

More at XR Youth International.


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.


Global Climate Strike in Whitehall

Monday, February 24th, 2020

I arrived back in central London to find Climate Strike protesters sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police threatening them with arrest, with several people being led away to waiting police vans.

There weren’t a huge number of protesters around, but soon they were joined by a large crowd of mainly school students who had marched up from Parliament Square.

Seeing a line of police across Whitehall they turned right down Horseguards Ave, going up Whitehall Court into Whitehall Place. Police formed a line across the road at the junction with Northumberland Ave and the students sat down on the road.

They had a few short speeches and chanted slogans for some time here, with the police trying for some reason to get them to get up and move. I couldn’t see why the police wanted them to move, as there is little traffic along this road and it was rather effectively keeping the students out of the way, but when the police began indicating they would make arrests, the crowd got up and moved away – to go back to Whitehall, a much more important route and sit down there to continue to block traffic.

By now I’d had enough of wandering around Whitehall, and it was looking likely that little more would take place, so I decided to leave them and go to another protest elsewhere.

More pictures: Global Climate Strike Protest continues

Earth Day

Friday, February 21st, 2020

There was a huge turnout for the Global Climate Strike on Earth Day, with many organised groups from schools attending, and an incredible range of hand-made posters.

Way down Millbank there was a lorry where speakers and groups were performing, but the street was so crowded it was hard to get through to it. At one point I went down a side street and made my way forward a block to reach the front.

Once I’d photographed the people at the front of the crowd I slowly made my way back through the crowd, photographing groups of people with placards. The crowd was tightly packed and I often had to squeeze through, but people moved to let me through, sometimes even before I had asked. Getting enough space between me and those I wanted to photograph was however often difficult. Most of these pictures were made with the Fuji XT1 and the Fuji 10-24mm zoom, mainly at or close to its widest setting, equivalent to 15mm on full-frame.

Eventually I was free of the close-packed crowd, but there were still a large number of protesters in front of Parliament and in Parliament Square.

Although the main rally was in the morning, other groups were also meeting in London, some coming to Westminster later, and I left to photograph some of these.

Global Climate Strike Rally


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.

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.


Requiem for a Dead Planet

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

The Daily Mail was banned by Wikipedia as an ‘unreliable’ source in 2017, and fact checking sites and organisations regularly find that it published materail that is known to be untrue. But of course there are stories in it that are factually correct, though even these often have misleading and sensational headlines.

It has a long history of support for extreme right views and its proprieter in the early 1930s Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere was a friend of both Hitler and Mussolini and ensured his papers published articles in support of the fascists and in 1934 wrote and published an article ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’ urging young men to join Mosley’s thugs. The family still have a controlling share in the Mail group, which includes the Mail on Sunday and the daily free Metro. Northcliffe House in Kensington where this protest took place is now also the home of Independent, London Live and the Evening Standard.

Extinction Rebellion had organised the protest to urge the press to stop publishing denials of climate change and to tell the truth about the climate emergency. They want the press to “put the full resources of their papers behind saving humanity from climate catastrophe and ecological collapse, and protect what is left of the natural world. “

As well as stopping publishing fake science, this would also mean changing the content of the papers to remove advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel, food or other consumerist content and so enabling government can take the drastic action needed.

It was a protest where a great deal of thought and effort had gone into visual material, including skeletons, banners and lilies, as well as having classical music from XRBaroque who performed inside a large gazebo.

It was still raining most of the time, heavy at times, but Northcliffe House has a large projecting porch over its entrance which kept the rain off most of the protesters, and at least some of the time from photographers too. And it meant that most of those who took part in the die-in had a fairly dry pavement to lie down on. But there were still times like the die-in when to stand where I needed to take pictures meant standing in the rain. My lenses had dried out on the journey from Piccadilly Circus, but after taking pictures for an hour or so here I was having trouble with condensation.

Since it was ‘A Requiem for a dead Planet‘ some of those attending had come in suitably funereal dress, including one man in black with a black hat and dark glasses. I noticed these were reflecting some of the banners on the floor and as he moved around the white XR symbols on a black banner werem at times reflected in the lenses. There was a short period of time when there was a suitable banner behind him too, with skulls, and I took a whole series of pictures trying to get the effect I wanted. It would have been tricky to even set this up and I was pleased to get one frame with exactly the effect I wanted. People who were there have said to me “I didn’t see he was wearing glasses with the XR symbol on them” and I’ve just smiled.

More pictures at Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail


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.

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.


Marching with a yacht

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Although police had put up with Extinction Rebellion blocking the Strand for their protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice calling for an Ecocide Lay, by late afternoon they were beginning to demand that people move or be arrested for blocking the highway.

XR had already identified a site where they were hoping to camp for the next few days, close to Waterloo, so in late afternoon they formed up to march the relatively short distance to their new home at Waterloo Millennium Green.

As well as around a thousand marchers there was also a giant pink dodo and a rather large blue yacht, the Polly Higgins, named for the environmental lawyer who fought for years for a law against ecocide and died this April. I hadn’t seen them moving a yacht through the streets before and was interested to see exactly how that would be done.

Another attraction of the march for me was that it would take me to Waterloo Station, where I could catch a train home. I had intended to march all the way, but actually gave up when the march was held up for some minutes on the Waterloo Road.

Earlier we had crossed Waterloo Bridge, where police had made many arrests of XR protesters during theirGarden Bridge’ occupaton of the bridge in April. Although the protesters were peaceful and not resisting arrest, following XR’s policy of non-violence, there had been considerable and entirely uncalled for violence from the police during some of these arrests, and the procession halted and sat down on the road for a few minutes for speeches condeming the earlier police action.

More at XR Summer Uprising procession.


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.

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.