Posts Tagged ‘climate disaster’

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.


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.


Police clear Marble Arch roads

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

I lost count of the number of police vehicles that I saw as I walked along the centre of the northbound carriageway of Park Lane – and not all of them are in the picture. There were more in some of the other streets in the area too, and it was clear that this was an operation on a huge scale

Marble Arch is a key junction in London, with the Bayswater road, Edgware Road, Oxford St and Park Lane all feeding in and taking out traffic from the gyratory system around the arch. The whole area had been closed off by Extinction Rebellion on the morning of 15th March and remained closed over a week later on the 24th. I imagine there was a great deal of political pressure on the Met to clear it.

On the hard standing in front of the Arch, things seemed to be going on much as usual, though there were noticeably fewer tents and fewer people than when I visited the previous week.

But there was a crowd around a ring of police who had surrounded the group blocking the entrance to the system from Oxford St and were clearly intending to arrest them. This appeared to be the last of the road blocks still in place, with a few people still locked together. Police were trying to get those outside the cordon to move away, and were beginning to threaten them and me with arrest, but I managed to take a few pictures working between police legs.

I walked around the area for a few more minutes taking pictures, then began to walk towards Belgrave Square where I hoped to photograph protesters calling on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide. As I walked down Park Lane I passed the samba band and others coming to Marble Arch around 45 minutes after me.

A few more pictures at Extinction Rebellion at Marble Arch.


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.


More from the XR Garden Bridge

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

On my next visit to London two days after XR had occupied Waterloo Bridge to make it into a ‘garden bridge’ I found myself needing to cross the Thames to get to an event I wanted to photograph, and the obvious way to get there was to walk through the garden.

There had been reports of arrests by police trying to clear the bridge, but things were still happening there, and for the half hour or so I had given myself to cross it the police were simply standing and watching.

The protesters seemed well settled in, though there were still new people arriving, with an induction session taking place. People were drumming and others simply sitting and chatting around, with a small library being pushed around to offer books to those who wanted to read.

And there was singing, poetry and story-telling on the lorry that was there as a stage, though there were also people locked on underneath it to prevent it being moved, with others sitting on the roof, probably just to get a good view and so that they caught a little more of the breeze coming up the river, as it was a hot morning.

Some people were keeping busy keeping the site running and others were enjoying the sun and a rest. It seemed a very calm place and it was good to be away from traffic and fumes, and I was sorry I had to leave.


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.


Shell Out

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

If we are to survive as a species we need to stop the climate destroyers, companies like Shell who are still pushing fossil fuels. So it wasn’t surprising that Extinction Rebellion had planned a protest at the Shell offices in London.

Also not surprising that as those taking part were intending to be arrested for taking illegal action and causing damage to the property that they didn’t advertise their protest beforehand. I only heard about it a short while after it happened, when a colleague who had been filming it told me what had happened and said it might still be worth a visit.

I do sometimes get advance information on illegal actions – and have at times been asked to cover them for the organisations taking them, but I usually pass up the opportunities. Sometimes it’s because they are taking place at inconvenient times, often early in the mornings. I’m afraid I don’t like getting up early and living a short journey outside London makes me reluctant to cover anything that starts before around 10.30am.

I also like to keep a certain distance between myself and groups of protesters. It’s a matter of objectivity and of editorial independence. I may support the aims of a protest, but as a photographer and a journalist I want to see and photograph it from my own viewpoint. So while I’m happy to cover events when I can, I don’t normally want to be a part of them.

Sometimes groups who approach me would be happy to pay for my services, though more often there isn’t any money involved. I’ve long been a supporter of trade unions and the idea that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and am opposed to my work being used without payment by anyone else who is making money out of it. I don’t actually need the money any more but there are plenty of younger photographers out there who struggle to make a living, and I’d rather any paid job went to one of them.

While I understand that many organisations want to improve the chances of hasing their protest or other event features in publications by providing free high-quality images, this is something I don’t like to support. If an event is newsworthy, then the media should be prepared to pay for decent pictures – otherwise no news photographers can make a living.

I have two simple rules when I’m asked for permission to use any of my images without payment:
Firstly – and this applies also when people approach me offering to pay – do I approve of the way they want to use the image. Some organisations get a straight refusal, though agencies with whom I place most images are less discerning.
Secondly if any organisation wants to use my work without payment my second question is to ask if the organisation has paid staff. If it can afford to pay workers it can also afford to pay photographers like me. It’s a simple test.

There are of course exceptions. One long-established is for the occasional exhibitions I take part in, where images are provided for free use in publicising and reviewing the show. And there is one or perhaps two magazines worldwide I would allow to use my work without payment in the unlikely event they would want to do so. And my work is made freely available to you all to view on my various web sites, particularly My London Diary, London Photographs, Hull Photos and the River Lea, links to which appear at the bottom of most posts on this site, a total of around 200,000 pictures and still growing.

As well as their general role in promoting climate disaster and ecocide, the protest at the London Shell HQ also highlighted their crimes against the people of the countries of the global south in which they operate, particularly in Nigeria where the company has been responsible for the killing of opponents to its activities, including Nigerian writer, television producer and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed by the military government there in 1995. 

I arrived far too late to see the activists daubing slogans on the Shell building and deliberately causing criminal damage so that they would be able to demand a trial before a jury, enabling them to argue their justification for the action. But there were still two activists occupying the glass porch above the entrance, as well as a group of supporters protesting on the road outside.

You can see a few more pictures at Extinction Rebellion at Shell. I didn’t stay long as I’d missed the main action and little now seemed ot be happening – and I had another protest to visit on my way home.


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.


XR’s Garden Bridge

Monday, July 29th, 2019

While Boris Johnson wasted many millions of public money as London Mayor on a crazy project for a garden bridge across the Thames where no-one wanted it and it fortunately came to nothing, Extinction Rebellion provided one for free for a few days .

It helped that they didn’t actually have to build a bridge, but just took over an existing one, Waterloo Bridge, closing it to traffic. This did cause a certain amount of disruption, and doubtless inconvenienced some people, but it, together with their other actions around London, did serve to put the issue of climate catastrophe – and the very real threat of human extinction unless people across the world take radical action – into public consciousness.

It was a minor inconvenience for me, as found myself having to walk around London rather than sit on a bus rather often during the week, though fortunately the tube was still working. But were I a transport planner for London, I think that at least one of London’s bridges – though probably not this one – would be permanently pedestrianised. We have far too much traffic in central London, causing far too much pollution – and thousands of early deaths – and the congestion charge hasn’t solved the problem.

It was very pleasant to be able to walk across the bridge past the trees and plants, or to sit for a few minutes in the sun and listen and watch the activities taking place on the bridge. And the air there certainly felt cleaner, once you were on the bridge and away from the traffic jam south of the river.

Many of those on the bridge had travelled up from the country, and had brought a little of it with them. Some had even walked all the way from Cornwall. Extinction Rebellion has certainly gained a great deal of support, if largely from the kind of people who will go to public meetings and listen to their speakers. Most could be labelled middle class, though not mainly the comfortable and affluent high-consuming middle class, but largely those in low-paid occupations; teachers, social workers, health workers were I’m sure all over-represented.

XR has developed from the activities of groups like ‘Stop Killing Londoners’ whose protests against air pollution in the city I’ve photographed from their start, working on the ideas of Roger Hallam on non-violent protests and people being prepared to be arrested (as I photographed him being arrested at the LSE in a protest for the cleaners there.)

There were arrests at the ‘garden bridge’ but on the couple of occasions I visited police just watched and occasionally took notes. XR’s attitude to the police and their policy of encouraging people to be arrested has been much criticised by others, and they appear to have little regard for the problems it may cause and have under-estimated the support needed. But these are desperate times and rather than carping perhaps the critics should be showing an example by launching their own, more effective actions – but there is little sign of that happening. XR certainly isn’t a perfect game, but it has little competition.

More at Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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

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.

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.