Posts Tagged ‘die-in’

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned

Friday, June 10th, 2022

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned – A rally on Wood Street on Friday 10th June 2016 marked the third day of what became the longest strike ever in the City of London, and later at City Hall a vigil remembered 11 road users killed on London streets since the mayoral election last month, including three cyclists.


Day 3 UVW Wood St Cleaners Strike – 100 Wood St, City of London

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned

Cleaners belonging to the United Voices of the World union employed by anti-union cleaning contractor Thames Cleaning to clean the 100 Wood St offices managed by CBRE held a rally at the end of their picket on the third day of their strike.

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned
The picket

The offices there are mainly used by Schroders and J P Morgan, both large and highly profitable companies, but the cleaners are on poverty wages and several union members had been sacked and others served with notice by Thames Cleaning for organising the workers to demand a living wage.

City Cleaners Strike, Cyclists mourned
Measuring the 10m required by the injunction

Rather than talk with the UVW, Thames’s response to the strike threat had been to spend over £20,000 in the High Court trying to get an injunction to prohibit the strikes and protests. Although the court would not stop them, they issued an injunction which set down strict conditions for the picket and protest and this left the UVW with crippling legal costs.

The UVW is a small grass roots union supported only by dues from its members and unlike the large established trade unions has little or no money to run its activities which include educational workshops as well as supporting its members in the workplace and at employment tribunals. Those who perform duties for it are paid the London Living Wage for the time spent and there are no highly paid union officials. The union had to issue an emergency appeal for cash – and received support from people and union branches across the trade union movement.

Candy Udwin, PCS Rep at the National Gallery holds a banner

One aspect of the injunction was that any protest connected with the strike had to keep at least 10 metres from the doorway of the offices. Of course picketing is covered by strict trade union laws and a lengthy code of practice that requires it to be as reasonably close as possible to the entrance and exit, and limits it to six or less clearly identified pickets with a supervisor (and possibly also a union organiser) behaving in a peaceful manner.

The protest took place over a carefully measured 10 metres away on the opposite side of the street after a picket which had begun in the early morning when the cleaners would normally have arrived for work. The strike continued for 58 days before the UVW was able to announce that a satisfactory agreement had been reached with the employer and all further action was ended.

There are four posts about the Wood Street Strike on My London Diary for June (and more in later months) :
UVW Cleaners on Strike in City
Day 3 UVW Wood St Cleaners Strike
UVW Wood St Strike Day 10
UVW Wood St Strike continues


London Traffic Deaths Vigil – City Hall

Although London had an impressive purpose-built County Hall on the south bank just downstream of Westminster Bridge, this was sold off when Margaret Thatcher vindictively disbanded the Greater London Council, leaving London rudderless for 14 critical years. After the Greater London Authority was created in 2000, it was without a proper home for two years before leasing and moving into a purpose-built oddly spherical building by Norman Foster in the misleadingly named ‘More London’ currently owned by the Kuwait sovereign wealth fund who disguise themselves as St Martins Property Investments Limited.

Many saw the move to the new building as a failure of purpose by the Labour government in noy re-acquiring County Hall for the new London-wide authority – but then Labour under Blair continued most of Thatcher’s policies rather than move away from her individualist greed-based approach towards one getting back to the social welfare which had been at the heart of post-war Labour.

London’s City Hall moved in 2022 to Kamal Chunchie Way, Newham, E16 into the former ‘The Crystal’ exhibition centre beside the northern end of London’s ‘Dangleway’ cable car, though this is expected to close fairly soon as no replacement sponsor has come up to keep it running.

Sadiq Khan had retaken London as a Labour Mayor on May 5th 2016, with a decisive win over Conservative Zac Goldsmith and the Green candidate Siân Berry trailing badly in third place. Since then, 11 people had died on the streets of London, roughly around the average for that period in Greater London (in 2019, the total for the year was 125.)

Siân Berry

Protests are – at least theoretically – not usually allowed in ‘More London’, but this one was hosted by Green Party London wide Assembly Member Caroline Russell, a member of the GLA Transport Committee and organised by London Women on Bikes (LWOB), #LondonBusWatch, Westminster Living Streets and BMX Life. Of the 11 who died, 3 were cyclists and the others were on foot.

Most road deaths are not ‘accidents’ but “happen because road users make mistakes, often made harder to avoid because of poor vehicle or road design. Many of them result from a lack of proper facilities for pedestrians and cyclists in a road system which prioritises getting motorised vehicles from A to B as fast as possible rather than safety. Some are caused by the failure of police to enforce road traffic law – for example on advanced stop lines at traffic lights.”

One of the cyclists killed was BMX rider Dan ‘Cash’ Stephenson, hit by a bus on the Strand during a BMX Life charity ride and many other BMX riders had come to the vigil, wearing tartan ribbons in his memory as he always rode in tartan. There were a number of speeches and then the names of those killed were read, followed by an eleven minutes of silence when those at the vigil were invited to stand in silence or to lie down, with or without bikes, in a silent ‘die-in’.

As the vigil came to an end and people were beginning to leave we were all called back for a highly emotional moment when Dan ‘Cash’ Stephenson’s daughter spoke through tears about her father.

London Traffic Deaths Vigil


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End Traffic Violence – 2014

Monday, November 15th, 2021

A few weeks ago I came to the end of a walk with friends and we stood at a bus stop on the edge of the A3 in south-west London with a relentless flow of traffic moving past in all four lanes in both directions. We were a few yards away on a slip road, but the noise was making my head throb and I could smell and taste the pollution, though I hope the Covid mask I was wearing might filter out some of the particulates. It was a horrible reminder of the mad dedication to traffic which is killing so many of us, poisoning adults and particularly children and playing a significant role in killing the planet through the huge carbon emissions in manufacturing vehicles, building yet more roads and of course burning fossil fuels. Fortunately our bus came earlier than expected.

The switch to electric cars will help a little, and reduce some of the pollution, though not its possibly most dangerous aspect, the particulates that come mainly from rubber tyres and from brakes. And there is still a huge carbon footprint from their manufacture – roughly equivalent to running around 150,000 miles of burning petrol or diesel, and much of the electricity used to power them will come from power stations burning gas or forest-destroying wood.

We can only have a sustainable future if we wean ourselves as a species away from travel, and take what journeys are still necessary by ways that reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible. Going on foot or by bicycle, using public transport and severely limiting the more polluting and high-carbon forms of transport. It means measures such as banning private cars in cities, giving priorities to buses, building more light rail and tram systems, ending subsidies to air travel, stopping new road-building and more. But also it means great changes in our way of life.

It’s something I realised over 50 years ago when I sold the only car I’d ever owned. Something I considered very carefully in choosing where to live and what jobs to take. And something which has constrained the holidays I’ve chosen to take and other aspects of my life, but not anything I really regret. I’ve only ever made three trips by air related to my work – where no real alternative was possible, and only taken two holidays which involved flights.

Of course there are some things and situations where cars are essential. It’s very hard to manage without one for those who live in more remote areas, and some need to. I’ve chosen always to live in towns or cities and have been healthy enough to be able to ride a bicycle or walk. In 2019, George Monbiot wrote for the Guardian a piece with the sub-head ‘Cars are ruining our lives. We should cut their use by 90% over the next 10 years’. Like other posts on his web site its worth reading and goes into much greater and well-argued detail than this piece.

Donnachadh McCarthy

On 15th November 2014 I photographed the ‘Funeral for the Unknown Victim of Traffic Violence’ organised by environmental campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy and ‘Stop Killing Cyclists’. It made its way through the centre of London from Bedford Square going along Oxford St, with a bagpiper playing and a horse-drawn hearse carrying a coffin for a mock funeral ceremony at Marble Arch.

It made the point that while too many pedestrians and cyclists are still killed and maimed by cars and lorries on a road system largely engineered for the convenience of motorised transport, their numbers are dwarfed by the many thousands of premature deaths each year caused by the pollution from road traffic, with pollution levels in many places being well above legal limits. After the funeral, there was a die-in by cyclists more or less filling the hard standing at Marble Arch, and a trumpeter sounded the Last Post.

Here is a list of the demands made by the protesters:

  1. Stop the Killing of Children with a national, multi-billion pound programme to convert residential communities across Britain into living-street Home Zones and abolish dangerous rat-runs.
  2. Stop the Killing of Pedestrians by a national programme to fund pedestrianisation of our city and town centres, including the nation’s high-street, Oxford Street.
  3. Stop the Killing of Pensioners from excessive speed with an enforced speed limit of 20 mph on all urban roads, 40 mph on rural roads/lanes and 60 mph on all other trunk roads.
  4. Stop the Killing of Cyclists, investing£15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network over the next 5 years.
  5. Stop the Killing by HGVs by banning trucks with blind spots, making safety equipment mandatory and strictly enforcing current truck-safety regulations; currently around 30% are illegally dangerous.
  6. Stop the Killing without liability with a presumed civil liability law for vehicular traffic when they kill or seriously injure vulnerable road-users, unless there is evidence blaming the victim.
  7. Stop the Killing from Lung, Heart and other Diseases caused by vehicular pollutants with mandatory for particulate filters that meet latest EU emission standards on all existing buses, lorries and taxis.
  8. Stop the Killing at Junctions with pedestrian crossing times long enough for elderly disabled to cross, filtered junction crossings by cyclists and strict legal priority for pedestrians and urgently provide physically protected left-hand turns for cyclists.
  9. Stop the Killing from Climate Crisis caused by CO2 emissions by insisting that all transport fuels are from truly environmentally-sustainable, renewable sources within 10 years.
  10. Focus on Life! with transport governance making safety and quality of life the top priority. Reform all council transport departments, the Department of Transport and Transport for London into Cycling, Walking and Transport Departments with formal pedestrian and cyclist representation.

Again you can read more detail and more evidence in Guardian posts by George Monbiot, available on his own web site such as Don’t Breathe.


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DSEI Arms Fair Protests 2015

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

The final protests against the 2015 DSEI arms fair at the Excel Centre on the Royal Victoria Dock in East London took place on 15th September 2015, the day that the arms fair opened. British and foreign warships were lined up alongside the Excel Centre inside which weapons were being sold that would be used to kill people in wars around the globe and to repress, kill and torture in many countries.

East London Against Arms Fairs held a procession around the Royal Victoria Dock floating a wreath oppposite the fair and holding a silence for victims of the arms trade, ending with a Buddhist prayer. They met with two Buddhist monks and supporters and some from the Stop the Arms Fair coalition who had been protesting against the Arms Fair at ExCel over the last week at Royal Victoria DLR station.

The procession was led by a woman wearing white and carrying a white wreath with the message ‘Remember Victims of the Arms Trade’ followed by the East London Against Arms Fair (ELAAF) banner with its dove of peace. It slowly made its way around the west end of the dock and then along its south side until it got close to the end of the dockside path, almost opposite the arms fair.

There was then a ceremony with the wreath being floated on the water of the dock and a two minute silence in memory of those killed by the arms from deals made at the previous fairs and those who will die from the weapons being sold at this DSEi fair. This was followed by a period of prayer by Japanese Buddhist monk Reverend Gyoro Nagase, the guardian of the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park.


As the first protest lefit, another group came marching along the dockside to take their place. Kurdish Youth Organisation Ciwanen Azad UK and Stop the Arms Fair supporters had also marched around the Royal Victoria Dock and were staging a ‘die-in’ and rally opposite the Excel centre.

The Turkish government’s Defence and Aerospace Industry Exporter’s Association is one of the international partners of the DSEi Arms Fair, and sales of their weapons at DSEi help fund the the vicious attacks on the Kurdish population in Turkey. A week earlier a relentless assault by Turkish military and police on the town of Cizre killed many people, including children. Attacks have increased since the pro-Kurdish HDP party passed the 10% threshold in the general elections in June 2015, winning seats in the Turkish parliament.

The sales of weapons at the arms enables the Turkish arms industry to continue its development of new weapons, including new drones, new MPT rifles and the Altay battle tank which will be used to continue the massacre of Kurds.

The protesters set up a display of banners and six Kurds in bloodstained white robes stages a ‘die-in’ on the dockside against the Murderous Turkish state opposite the DSEi arms fair.

Kurds say Stop arms sales to Turkey
Wreath for Victims of the Arms Trade


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.



Telling the Story – 19 July 2019

Monday, July 19th, 2021

I often find myself thinking about my role as a documentary photographer when I’m taking pictures of protests. And of thinking about how I can carry out that role.

Clearly I’m not their to take part in the protest – though often I support the cause of the protesters I’m making pictures of. I’m an observer rather than a participant, though there are occasions when I will intervene in some way, largely the kind of actions that I would expect anyone to take, like stopping people walking into traffic or helping someone who has fallen down or dropped something.

There have been times too when I reminded police of the law (not always advisable) or protested at their use of unnecessary force. And on some occasions when marches have got lost or taken a wrong turning I’ve pointed this out to the marchers. Some embassies and companies are quite hard to find.

I never set up people or groups, though sometimes when photographing people I may ask or gesture them to look at me or to hold their poster or placard higher or lower. But it isn’t a portrait session and I don’t ask them to smile or scowl or act up for the camera. It would have been much easier to make the picture of the XR symbols in those dark glasses in the studio and it took a number of attempts to catch him looking in exactly the right direction and catch those reflections from a banner which I’d noticed moving across them earlier.

But it isn’t just a matter of passive observing. I’m choosing my position, framing my pictures, selecting the moment, working to try to present the story clearly and effectively.

It isn’t essentially about making dramatic or attractive pictures, though I always hope some might be.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Requiem for a Dead Planet’ at Northcliffe House, home of the Daily Mail, Independent, Mail on Sunday, London Live and Evening Standard demanding they publish truth and end lies about climate change was a tricky one to cover, with heavy rain falling much of the time and a very limited area under cover for protesters and photographers. As we’ve seen in the past week, the weather is becoming more violent and this seemed appropriate if making the job more difficult.

Here’s some of the text I wrote at the time – the link below has more and more pictures:

“XR say avoiding climate & ecological devastation needs the media to tell the truth and stop publishing fake science denying climate change as well as advertising and editorial material that promotes high-carbon lifestyles, whether about fashion, travel food or other consumerist content so government can take the drastic action needed.

The protest included suitable requiem music by a small group of musicians in XR Baroque, a eulogy for lost species by a priest, speeches, poems, skeletons, banners and a die-in.”

Requiem for a Dead Planet at Daily Mail

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.


1984 Remembered

Tuesday, June 8th, 2021

Every year around the 8th June, Sikhs march in London to remember the 1984 destruction at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Soviet government forged documents in 1982 to show that Sikh militants were getting CIA support for their plans to establish an independent Sikh state of Khalistan in the Punjab and these were taken seriously by Indian intelligence services and prime minister Indira Gandhi, who on June 1st 1984 sent in the Indian Army in Operation Blue Star, attacking scores of Sikh temples across the Punjab.

On 3rd June Indian forces surrounded the Golden Temple in Amritsar where many of the militants who were well armed had taken refuge, along with thousands of pilgrims who were there for the anniversary of the death of the fifth guru, Arjan Dev Ji. The siege lasted several days and many were killed, mostly pilgrims who had been allowed by the army to enter on the 3rd June but not allowed to leave later that day. As they secured the Temple, the army carried out many executions of those they detained and fired on men and women as they were trying to follow army orders to leave.

Acoording to Rajiv Gandhi, around 700 Indian Army soldiers were killed in the attack, although the official figure was 83. There are also huge discrepancies between the official figures of those who died inside the Temple, with an official figure of 554 casualties and independent estimates of 18-20,000.

Many Sikhs resigned from official positions and soldiers left the Indian Army after this assault on their religion, and five months later Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in an act of revenge. This in turn led to anti-Sikh riots in which thousands of Sikhs were killed.

Many Sikhs still continue to call for an independent Sikh homeland, Khalistan, combining parts of the Punjab in both India and Pakistan that were severed at partition in 1947 when the whole area was divided between the two and Sikhs, along with other minorities were sidelined. Both political and military activities continue as does their repression by the Indian government, with many Sikhs held in Indian prisons, some under threat of hanging.

Feelings still run very high, and in 2013 four Sikhs were found guilty of attacking one of the generals who led the attack on the Temple, long retired and on holiday in London with his wife. Police have often taken a very keen interest in the annual march and prevented people from carrying some placards and posters which support the proscribed organisation Babbar Khalsa. The pictures here are from the march on Sunday 8th June 2014, which I left as the last of the protesters went down Park Lane on their way to a rally in Trafalgar Square

Sikhs march for Truth, Justice & Freedom


Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences

Also taking place on Sunday 8th June 2014 was a protest against the the 1,212 death sentences imposed on Islamists in Egypt, which was taking place as the new Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was sworn in. These included 529 members of the Muslim Brotherhood sentenced in 2014 following an attack on a police station in 2013.

There was a mock trial. People wearing numbers to represent the prisoners made the Islamist R4BIA (Rabia) sign and the event ended with a die-in in front of Marble Arch.

Protest Against Egypt Death Sentences


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.


Death at the Elephant

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Cyclists die-in where a cycle bypass would have prevented a cyclist death

When I was growing up in a working-class area of Greater London there were few private cars around. Only one of my friends was from a family that owned a car, and they could only afford it because both of his parents worked. Working mothers were much looked down on in the area at a time when most married women were housewives, and many employers still expected or even required women to stop work when they got married. There were men in middle-class occupations, but even few of them had cars, walking to local companies or to the station for the train to London. Otherwise people walked to work or took a bus or rode a bike.

My father at the time was self-employed, a man who did odd jobs; a little building work, plastering, plumbing, carpentry, roofing, glazing, electrical wiring, painting, decorating as well as gardening and bee-keeping. He worked for people in our area who mainly were as poor as we were; every penny counted – and there were seldom any spare to count at the end of the week. He rode around on an ancient bike, often with a bucket on the handlebars for his tools, and when he needed a ladder or more equipment or materials, left his bike at home and pulled everything on a hand cart.

For us kids, a bike was a great liberation. We played games on them, sometimes rather dangerously, and rode for miles often along busy main roads. But there was less traffic then and it moved much slower. I got my first two-wheeler – old but newly painted – for my sixth birthday, learnt to ride it that day and was then off, at first along our street and its side avenues, but soon much further afield, either with friends or by myself. By the time I was at grammar school I was riding miles out from London as well as cycling to school.

But things changed. It became the aspiration of many if not all working men to own a car – and more and more married women worked to make it possible. Car makers produced more and more cars aimed at a wider market, something that perhaps began in this country with the 1948 Morris Minor and Ford Popular, introduced in 1953, but accelerated in the late 1950s, when Harold MacMillan told us “most of our people have never had it so good.” Though in 1957 it still had to make its way down to areas like that I lived in.

Riding a bike began to be associated with poverty and cycle clips became an icon of failure. England developed a strong anti-cycling culture, with cyclists becoming an object of derision and hate. They cluttered up the road, preventing the free movement of motor cars. It’s an attitude still prevalent among car owners, and one pandered to by our road designers who until recently largely discounted cyclists in designing roads to enable drivers to drive faster. Pedestrians too were something of a nuisance, to be caged off whenever possible and forced to move away from crossing near corners to motorists could negotiate the rounded profiles at greater speed.

We have seen some changes in recent years. The 2005 bombings made many more consider cycling in cities, and increasing concern about healthy exercise has also led to more recreational cycling – if often by people carrying bikes by car to safer places to cycle. And we now have a few segregated cycle routes in London and elsewhere.But London as a whole is still often a very dangerous place for cyclists (and pedestrians.) One reason is the poor design of many large vehicles with very limited visibility for the drivers. Another is road design inherited from years of ignoring the needs of cyclists and the continuing failure to put enough money into developing roads and paths that are safe for cyclists.

The problems are in part political, with a lack of national leadership and many local politicians remain rabidly anti-cyclist and respond to powerful lobbies from some drivers and in particular taxi drivers organisations. In London it was made worse by the local government reorganisations of the 1960s and the abolition of the Greater London Council in the 1980s. Traffic – including the problems faced by cyclists – is one area that clearly needs to be dealt with for London as a whole and not left to the whim of local boroughs as is currently the case. Some have an almost complete disregard for the safety of cyclists.

Stop Killing Cyclists has organised a number of bike die-ins taking place shortly after cyclists have been killed at the sites where they died. The protest these pictures come from was at the Elephant and Castle in Southwark on Wednesday 21 May 2014, following the death of 47 year-old Abdelkhars Lahyani on May 13, killed by a HGV (heavy goods vehicle) whose driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.

The traffic system here was completely redesigned a few years earlier at a cost of £3 million, but without making proper provision for cyclists. Southwark Council’s transport plan argues against segregation of cyclists and says that including them in traffic is useful to slow traffic flows. While it may do so, it is at the expense of regarding them as expendable.

The protesters marked out a bike ‘bypass lane’ which if implemented would have taken Lahyani away from the dangerous area where he was killed. Many accidents at junctions are caused by drivers turning left and driving over cyclists they have failed to see on their left side, either in a blind spot because of bad vehicle design or simply because they have failed to check their route before turning.

More at Cyclists protest Death at the Elephant on My London Diary


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.


Oct 1 2016: Heathrow Climate Die-in

Thursday, October 1st, 2020
The die-in begins

I’m not a great fan of Prince Charles – or any royalty who I think are all parasites whose ancestors stole the land from the people and are still fleecing us in various ways – but I had to agree with him when a few days ago he called for a ‘Marshall-like plan’ to combat climate change, which he warned will “dwarf” the impact of coronavirus, with potentially devastating consequences. Perhaps he was still rather underplaying the danger we all face, but if he and David Attenborough were ever to come to power we might just see a shift in our establishment and government that could at least alleviate some of the more disastrous effects of global heating.

Protesters wait with travellers in the Departures lounge

But I’m not optimistic. Averting catastrophe will require drastic changes in our economic structures and ways of life which will impact the highest polluters most – and that “1%” are those who currently run most of the world to feed their ever-unsatiated greed. The rich are the rich because they have always put themselves first, and have never given up their advantages without a fight – and have always been able to afford the better arms and armies.

One thing that will have to change is aviation. Flights by a relatively small proportion of people make a ridiculous contribution to greenhouse gases – not just by weekend private jet flights to Perugia but much more by ‘frequent fliers’ on regular services. But it isn’t just the emissions from burning fossil fuel in flights, but the huge amounts of energy and materials in making planes and airport infrastructure which present a problem, as well as the effects of global freight leading to deforestation and other environmental problems around the world. Even if hydrogen-fuelled aircraft were to remove most of the pollution problems of actual flights the aviation industry will remain a climate threat.

Some had aprons with messages and read out information and there were speeches

Back in 2010 I was with local campaigners celebrating the cancellation of plans to expand Heathrow by building an extra ‘third’ runway. But lobbying by the aviation industry and a deliberately short-sighted ‘Davies Report’ put it back as government policy in 2016, though in 2020 a judicial review ruled that the government’s decision to proceed with building the third runway were unlawful as they had failed to take into account the government’s commitments to combat climate change.

The protest inside Heathrow’s Terminal 2 took place as the government were preparing to back building the third runway again in 2016 and was organised by Reclaim The Power. It was a part of a global wave of resistance to airport expansion on environmental and social grounds, and took the form of a ‘flash mob’ with a well choreographed event, beginning with a die-in over which frequent fliers stepping over their dead bodies and luggage to a champagne fast track check-in desk, followed by songs and dances.’ There were other protests at Gatwick and in Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey and elsewhere.

A protester dressed as a frequent flyer steps through the die-in

I just a just a little nervous anticipation beforehand about photographing the event, which was taking place in a privately owned space, though one open to the public, but airport security made no attempt to stop me or the protesters other than keeping us outside the security zone. I think the organisers had made clear to them that they were not attempting to greatly disrupt the airport and would not be causing any damage.

‘Frequent flyers’ party

Outside the airport where 150 cyclists were protesting things were a little different, with police over-reacting hugely to a relatively minor protest, shutting down roads across a large area for several hours. They turned what would have been hardly noticeable to travellers in the area into a major incident.

Many more pictures from the protest inside Terminal 2 at Heathrow flashmob against airport expansion.

Zero Time for Action

Monday, January 27th, 2020

I’d walked halfway up the hill to Blackheath where South East London Extinction Rebellion were holding their two day South East London Rebel Rising festival, but had to rush off and run back downhill to catch a train back to the centre of London to cover events there. But I was able to return without having to climb the hill again, taking a train to Blackheath station which is at the top of the hill, and just a short walk to at Blackheath Lincoln Field where the Greenwich Observatory Die-In was going to start.

I arrived just in time as the march to the observatory was about to set off, and was able to photograph them as they walked across the common and into Greenwich Park.

It wasn’t a huge group, which was just as well as they pretty well filled the space in front of the Royal Observatory which isn’t very large and a triangular area with very busy paths along two side, full of tourists going to see London’s finest view from the terrace just past the observatory or to visit the observatory. This is now a museum for tourists with a large meridian marker in the ground where people like to photograph themselves with a foot in each hemisphere (and I admit I’ve done so in the distant past.)

Back when I first visited the observatory it was free, but now it costs £16 for an adult ticket (cheaper if you book online.) When they started to charge for entry you could walk into the yard and photograph yourself on the meridian marker for free, but now you have to pay to get through the gate. Though there is a much older marker on the footpath just below if you want to save money.

Greenwich advertises itself as the home of Greenwich Mean Time, and Extinction Rebellion chose the venue to point out that we are running out of time and need to take urgent action now to avoid mass extinction. Some of the protesters had ‘clock faces’ painted on their faces or carried clock posters.

While most of those present lay down for a ‘die-in’, others handed out leaflets and used a megaphone to speak to the tourists wandering past, some of whom applauded the action, while others either ignored it or just looked confused.

It was another event where my fish-eye lens came in useful, though even it wasn’t quite wide enough to take in the whole scene as I wanted. The top picture on this post shows a fisheye view, slightly cropped at top and bottom, and it couldn’t quite let me take the whole scene I wanted. I had to angle the lens down to get in the foreground banner as I couldn’t move further back and you can see a little cut-off at both top corners after a little attempt at correcting the verticals. Photoshop could of course have generated a little sky at the left and tree at right to fill the gap but I decided that would be cheating.

You can see some other pictures made both with the fisheye and, like that above this paragraph made with a rectilinear ultrawide lens – the 10-24mm Fuji zoom at 15mm equivalent focal length – on My London Diary, along with others made at longer focal lengths.

Rebel Rising Royal Observatory Die-In

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


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.


Tax Rebellion

Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Travelling around London as I do is often frustrating, with traffic often blocking the streets rather than moving through them. If I had any sense I would have picked up my folding bike, a Brompton, and took it with me to get to this protest at City Hall, the home of the Greater London Authority, more or less next to Tower Bridge.

My journey had started badly, with my train into London arriving around 25 minutes late – impressive for a journey which normally only takes 35 minutes. If I’d brought the bike I could have jumped on it and still got to City Hall on time, and if I’d been thinking more clearly I would have rushed down to the Jubilee line station to take a train to London Bridge, leaving me with just a short walk.

But when I’d planned the journey I’d given myself plenty of time, and the bus had two advantages. First my National bus pass meant it was free, and secondly it took me almost to the doorstep of where I was going so I decided to keep to my plan and take a bus. It was a bad call, and as I waited longer and longer at the stop I wondered whether to give up and go back for the tube, but finally the bus arrived and I got on. The first half mile was fine, but then we hit more traffic.

I ran up the path towards the protest, and saw the die-in starting from a couple of hundred yards away. I hadn’t missed it completely but it would have been rather better to have arrived and been available to photograph the start of the event.

The protest was to declare a tax strike against the Greater London Authority, withholding the GLA element of their council tax until they abandon projects which will cause environmental degradation and hasten ecological collapse. They want a citizen’s assembly to re-write the London Plan to stop all infrastructure projects polluting London’s air and invest in measures to cut carbon emissions and encourage healthier lifestyles

Many of London’s problems were made much worse by the abolition of the GLC by Margaret Thatcher back in 1986, leaving the city without any proper overall authority. The GLC under Ken Livingstone had made a good start in improving public transport in the city, but things more or less came to a halt, only to pick up again when he returned as Mayor with the newly formed GLA in 2000. Rail privatisation in 1994 made matters worse, with so many different companies responsible for overground services in the area – and recent franchisees seem even less competent than their predecessors.

The development of London in most respects also took a setback with the election of Boris Johnson as Mayor, who was able to claim the kudos for Livingstone’s cycle hire scheme, but was generally ineffectual, as well as wasting time and considerable money on a garden bridge that served no purpose and few wanted.

Progress with better cycling facilities has been slow, though much of the blame for this lies with the boroughs rather than the GLA. Some boroughs have been clearly anti-cyclist, and a strong lobby from cab drivers organisations has opposed innovation. Progress has been very piecemeal.

The Green Party has of course been pushing for better cycle facilities and other changes that would make London a healthier place, and both Sian Berry and Caroline Russell spoke. There were also protesters against the Silvertown Tunnel, which will greatly increase traffic on both sides of the river, particularly in Greenwich. This has now been given the go-ahead by Mayor Sadiq Khan who seems to have rather less concern for the environment even than his predecessor.

I don’t know how successful – if at all – the tax boycott has been, but I’ve heard nothing about it since. I think it would take rather more than this single protest, where many of those present will not have been London council tax payers, to get such a boycott going on a scale large enough to have any real effect.

XR London Tax rebellion


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.