Posts Tagged ‘downing st’

United Friends & Families March

Saturday, October 30th, 2021

Today at noon in London, the the United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody, is holding its annual march from Trafalgar Square along Whitehall to a rally opposite Downing St as it has on the last Saturday in October since 1999. In 2010 the march was also on 30th October and I published a lengthy post about it with many photographs on My London Diary. Here is the text in full (with some minor corrections) and a few of the pictures.


United Friends & Families March

Trafalgar Square to Downing St, London. Saturday 30 Oct 2010

Marcia Rigg-Samuel, sister of Sean Rigg, killed by police in Brixton, tries to deliver a letter at Downing St
more pictures

The United Friends and Families of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody, prisons and secure mental institutions marched slowly in silence down Whitehall to Downing St, where police refused to allow them to deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

It’s impossible to be sure how many of the suspicious deaths in police custody, prisons and secure mental institutions (and there are around 200 a year) have been as a result of lack of care, the use of excessive force and brutality, but certainly the answer is far too many.


Since 1999, the ‘United Friends and Families’ of some of those who have died have held an annual slow silent funeral march from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall to Downing St. It attracted particular attention in 2008 when the mother and other family members of Jean Charles de Menezes were among those taking part. This year’s event was rather smaller, and received little attention from the mainstream media.

A number of family members spoke with great feeling opposite Downing St, and then the group, by now around a hundred strong, moved across the road to fix flowers to the gates and attempt to deliver a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. It seemed an unnecessary and pointless snub that the police refused to take the letter and that nobody from No 10 was apparently prepared to come and receive it.

Earlier there had been an argument with the police who had objected to the rally occupying one of the two southbound lanes of Whitehall, but was allowed to go ahead by the officer in charge after those present had refused to move. In previous years the police have usually seemed anxious to avoid confrontation, although in 2008 they insisted on searching all the bouquets before allowing them to be laid on the gates of Downing St.

Jason McPherson’s grandmother speaking opposite Downing St

Speakers at the rally opposite Downing St included Stephanie, the twin sister of Leon Patterson, Rupert Sylvester, the father of Roger Sylvester, Ricky Bishop’s sister Rhonda and mother Doreen, Samantha, sister of Jason McPherson and his grandmother, Susan Alexander, the mother of Azelle Rodney, and finally the two sisters of Sean Rigg.

What the families want is simple. Justice. And to know the truth about what happened. What emerged again and again was a shameful history of delay, evasion and covering up by the police, with the collusion of the IPCC, the Crown Prosecution Service and even at times judges, working together to ensure that justice fails to be done. The press have been fed lies – as in the de Menezes case, security cameras have suddenly been found not to have been working, CCTV tapes have been lost or doctored, officers involved have not been questioned until many months after the events, witness statements have been dismissed as ‘unreliable’. Deliberate delays are used as a tactic to prevent the truth coming out, and these also have allowed officers involved to collude in their cover-ups.

Overwhelmingly the victims in these cases are black, but one of the banners on the march reminded us that it affects the whole of our community, with a banner asking why 18 year old Sarah Campbell died in Styal Prison in 2003. Many of us present remembered and sadly miss her mother, Pauline Campbell; after her daughter’s tragic death she devoted herself single-mindedly to campaigning for justice, not just for Sarah but for other victims and to improve the system. Eventually she forced an admission from the authorities that their lack of care had caused Sarah’s death, but she became another victim of injustice when she committed suicide on her daughters grave.

Stephanie LightfootBennett, speaks about the police murder of her twin Leon Patterson

Leon Patterson was arrested in Stockport in 1992 and kept in a police cell for some days despite being in need of hospital treatment. He was found dead in his cell with a fractured skull and severe injuries, his blood covering the walls of the cell and his genitals mutilated, and in such a bad state that she failed to recognise him. The family challenged the initial inquest verdict which found his injuries to be self-inflicted, but there was no legal aid available for them. Fortunately the charity INQUEST supported them and a second inquest in April 1993 returned a verdict of unlawful killing, although this was quashed on appeal by the police on the grounds that the coroner had misdirected the jury on the law.

Roger Sylvester died in 1999 after being arrested by the Met. An inquest jury in October 2003 returned a verdict of unlawful killing, but the verdict was later quashed in the High Court, because the judge claimed the coroner’s summing up had confused the jury. The judge refused to order another inquest and said that no jury in a criminal case would be likely to convict any of the officers concerned of manslaughter.

Ricky Bishop was stopped, arrested and taken to Brixton police station on 22 Nov 2001, where he was assaulted and brutalised by police officers, leading to a heart attack. After that the police called a paramedic and he was taken to hospital and died. The family say that the police withheld vital evidence from the inquest and that the jury were not given a proper choice of verdicts at the inquest.

Samantha, sister of Jason McPherson

Jason McPherson died in hospital after being taken there from Notting Hill Police station after having been arrested on suspicion of drug offences on 18 Jan 2007. Police believed he had a wrap of cocaine in his mouth and had used considerable and arguably excessive force on his head and chest to try to get him to open his mouth. A jury at the inquest in January 2010 came to a unanimous ‘narrative verdict’, saying that the procedures were not properly implemented and that “it did not appear Jason was given the opportunity to remove the drugs voluntarily through talking down (tactical communication).”

Azelle Rodney was killed by police in April 2005 after a car in which he was travelling was rammed and stopped by the Met in Barnet. Rodney was not armed, although the officer who fired the shots at close range was sure he was. Various misleading statements from police sources were widely published by the press. An inquiry into the case opened formally earlier this month and there is to be a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice starting next week.

Marcia Rigg-Samuel, sister of Sean Rigg, who went into Brixton Police station in August 2008 a physically healthy man but was dead a short time later, killed by the actions of a small group of officers, led the procession down Whitehall from Trafalgar Square. She stood beside her sister, Samantha Rigg-David, the last of the families to speak, and then read the letter from the families to Prime Minister David Cameron. The inquest on Sean Rigg, adjourned in 2008, is not now expected until 2012.

The families then moved across the road to the gates to Downing Street, demanding that police open them so they could deliver their letter. Police refused, and a small group of armed police joined the armed officers already present. After considerable amount of angry shouting as the police continued to refuse to allow access or even to take in the letter – a few of the group were allowed to sellotape the flowers, a photo of Sean Rigg and the letter to the gates. The noisy demonstration at the gates was still continuing when I left.
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Brexit and More: 20th Oct 2018

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Brexit isn’t the end of the world, but it is beginning to become very clear what a huge mistake it was, driven by a relatively few people who not only stood to make large profits but also were scared of losing the huge advantages they get from currently legal tax avoidance schemes which the EU were promising to clamp down.

The vote – a close one – shows how the handful of billionaires who control most of our media and set the agenda for the rest use their power to influence many voters in this country, making a mockery of the ideals behind our ideas of democracy. It also showed the stupidity of the then Conservative leader who was so sure of winning that he set up the vote on an important constitutional change in a way that would not have been allowed by the average tennis club, where important issues would need rather more than a simple majority.

Those behind the People’s Vote argued that so much evidence had come out since the referendum that it was necessary to get a new mandate from the people to leave the EU. It was an argument that although well-founded was not going to get any support from the then PM Theresa May who was by then running scared of the right-wing hard Brexiteers who eventually took over the party. And it was also to prove toxic to the Labour Party who were pushed into supporting it by Keir Starmer – when there was already no shortage of poison and dirty tricks – as a leaked report made clear – though we still await the report of the Forde Inquiry on this.

The current dispute over the agreement signed with the EU to resolve the problems of the Irish border shows how eager the Johnson government was to get a hard Brexit done, apparently signing up without reading the small print (or rather ignoring the advice of civil servants who had read it.) Although the EU seem to be making things as easy as possible for exports to flow freely it currently seems likely that the UK will continue to demand the impossible and trigger a complete breakdown and a massive and highly damaging trade war, probably not confined to Europe.

I photographed at the start of the huge People’s March, when people filled much of Park Lane and a large corner of Hyde Park, and watched as they streamed past me.

Movement for Justice came to the march and tried to join it near the front, and when they were refused went and stood on the road in front of the official banner – along with quite a few other protesters. They were calling for an end to the hostile environment and the scapegoating of immigrants and demanding an amnesty for all people already present in the country and the extension of freedom of movement to include the Commonwealth. They marched down Piccadilly ahead of the main march whose start was held up.

Later I rejoined the main march as it came down Whitehall for the rally in Parliament Square. There were so many people that they could not all get into the square and many came to a halt along Whitehall, while others were reported still to be at Green Park, just a short distance from the start of the march. People were dancing and partying on the route having given up the attempt to complete the march.

A couple of other protests were taking place around Whitehall. Opposite Downing St the
People’s Mujahedin of Iran were protesting against the repressive regime in Iran,. there and calling for an end to executions there Posters reminded us that the Iranian regime is the world record holder for executions and gibbets and three women held in a prison cell illustrated the reign of terror there.

At the Ministry of Defence Veterans United Against Suicide were calling for more to be done to help service men and veterans in the fight against their developing PTSD and eventually committing suicide. They appeared to be a small extreme right group exploiting the issue, with a large banner supporting the soldier discharged for standing with Tommy Robinson in a photo used to publicise his extreme right-wing views. While I took a few pictures a speaker was condemning one of the major forces charities, accusing it of fraud and failure to act over the mental health issues. Some of those present made clear that I was not welcome at the event and I decided not to stay.

More at:

People’s Vote March – End
Veterans United Against Suicide
People’s Mujahedin of Iran
MfJ at People’s Vote March
People’s Vote March – Start


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Deaf & Disabled March & a Harvest Festival

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

Saturday 26th September 2015 wasn’t one of my busiest Saturdays, but the two events I photographed were very different, and took place some distance apart. The first was in the centre of London, at Westminster and was a protest over the discrimination by the Tory government against disabled people.

It was clear from the start of the coalition government that came to power in 2010 that the Tories were out to target the disabled, and that they saw them and the benefits they were getting as a drain on our taxes they were keen to diminish. They declared that cuts in government spending were essential, blaming the previous New Labour government for the results of the world-wide banking crash which in reality was caused by the exploitation of an unstable system by greedy bankers and using this as an excuse for largely counter-productive austerity.

Looking at ways to make cuts, they picked on the disabled as they thought they would be an easy target and could bring large savings. But the disabled have turned out far more resilient than they expected, with groups like Disabled People Against Cuts turning out to be formidable opponents and getting considerable public support.

This particular protest was over the the cutting of the DWP’s Access to Work scheme which enables disabled people to work on an equal basis to non-disabled people. They want to work and have careers and to make a contribution to society, but cutting this essential support will prevent them doing so. And as the protesters pointed out, every £1 spent on Access to Work results in a return of £1.48.

Local resident Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion points at the Heathrow plan

A long tube journey, changing to go almost to the edge of London on the Piccadilly line and then catch a bus to Sipson took me to Grow Heathrow in Sipson. It was a reminder that although London once led the world with its Underground system, it has failed to keep up with the times and now so many other cities have more modern and faster systems. When I first went to Paris we used to laugh at the quaint Metro clattering slowly and noisily around under the city, but now Parisians used to the RER must enjoy at least a little smile at our creaking system – and perhaps gloat that some of their system is now financed by the profits from Londoners using RATP run buses. Germans too profit as DB Arriva run the Overground as well as buses as well as three rail franchises.

Grow Heathrow was celebrating another harvest at their occupied nursery site with ‘music, pumpkins and pizza’ as well as an open ‘No Third Runway!’ discussion. They had squatted the derelict site in 2010 and five years later were still resisiting eviction with their court case then adjourned until the following summer. Half the site was evicted in 2019 but the rest continued until the final eviction in March 2021.

I was late (thanks to that slow journey) for the start of the discussion on Heathrow, but got there in time to hear much of it and take pictures – and as a fairly local long-term resident to make a very small contribution to the debate led by John Stewart of HACAN and other campaigners including Christine Taylor of Stop Heathrow Expansion and Sheila Menon of Plane Stupid. I grew up under the flightpath a couple of miles from touchdown and have lived the last 47 years a similar distance from the airport. Established by deception it has long been clear the airport is in the wrong place, and now even clearer that we can’t continue expanding air transport if we want to avoid climate catastrophe.

It is hard to take the government’s environmental policies seriously when they continue to support the expansion of air travel and transport and plans for another runway at Heathrow. We should be looking urgently at ways to cut our dependence on air freight and reduce travel, as well as ways to reduce the carbon emissions involved in the lower amount that will continue. This is one of the government policies that seriously undermines its national and international credibility at the forthcoming COP26 climate talks.

Grow Heathrow showed how people could live in different ways and evolve stronger communities and more democratic systems, although few would want to live as ‘off-grid’ in the rather spartan conditions of the residents here. But although we might not all want to make our own charcoal, nor go back to running vehicles on it, producing biochar is one of the few practical methods currently feasible of carbon capture and storage.

Grow Heathrow celebrates Harvest Festival
Deaf & Disabled Access to Work protest


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.


Netanyahu’s visit – 2015

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Around a thousand people came to protest against the visit to Downing Street by the then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and several hundred came to oppose the protest and support Israel. Police struggled to keep the two groups apart.

The larger group said the Netanyahu should be arrested for war crimes in the attack on Gaza last year. Many refused to go into the penned area on the opposite side of Whitehall that police had designated and it was probably too small for all of them.

Police tried to persuade them to get off of the roadway and back onto the pavement, but were eventually overwhelmed and the protesters moved across the road to the pavement in front of the Downing St gates.

Some of the pro-Israeli protesters then moved out from their pen, and for some time the two groups faced each other across the fairly narrow way into Downing Street that police managed to keep clear. A few protesters from each side were arrested and led away, mainly when they argued aggressively with police or their opponents.

Among the protesters against Netanyahu and calling for freedom for Palestine there were as usual both Palestinians and Jews; later a group of Neturei Karta arrived, having walked from North London to join them. These ultra-orthodox Jews support Palestine and are opposed to any political state of Israel on religious grounds. One of their banners read ‘JUDAISM – G-dly & Compassionate – ZIONISM G-dless & Merciless’.

The supporters of the Israeli state included a number of right-wing Christians who came with a Union Flag with ‘UK Christians Love Israel’ on it. Like Neterei Karta they are only a small and unrepresentative group.

Some of the pro-Israel demonstrators were reluctant to be photographed and complained to police about photographers as well as about the other protesters who they felt police were failing to control. One man stretched out his hand to cover my lens – so of course after photographing that I made sure that I took his picture and you can see him on My London Diary.

The protest was still continuing as I left to photograph another event nearby, though I suspect that Netanyahu had already arrived and been taken inside by a back entrance. Movement for Justice were in Parliament Square calling on MPs to support the proposals of the detention inquiry. They want an end to detention, fast track and immigration raids, the opening of the Calais border and an amnesty for migrants. Many of those taking part were asylum seekers who had been subjected to indefinite detention in UK detention centres after making their asylum claims.

Fight immigration detention MfJ tells MPs
Support for Israel & Netanyahu
Netanyahu visit protest – Free Palestine

One Law for All

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

Islam is now the UK’s second largest religion, with 2018 Office of National Statistics figures for Great Britain of 3,372,966, around 5.2% of the population, still considerably lower than the 36 million who declared themselves Christian in the 2011 census.

Along with the rise in numbers we have also seen a dramatic rise in Islamophobia, partly driven by the exploitation of the fear and hate against the terrorism of small groups of extremists here as well as in the US and France, and more recently by the rise of ISIS in Syria – where many of those who fought against and defeated ISIS there were also Muslims.

The ‘Prevent’ strategy introduced by the Labour Government after the London bombings as an aspect of counter-terrorism was essentially aimed at de-radicalising young Muslims through community-based programmes. It stigmatised the entire Muslim community – and did so at a time when extreme right-wing organisations were growing strongly and provoking racial tensions, and removed any real attention from their illegal behaviour – and the terrorist threat they posed.

The coalition government changed ‘Prevent’ radically. No longer was it concerned with attempts to promote integration though community programmes but shifted to a police-led system to indentify individuals who might be vulnerable to ‘radicalisation’ and to provide intervention packages for them. Unfortunately there seem to be no reliable indicators of such vulnerability.

The 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (CTSA) made it a legal duty for “teachers, doctors, social workers and others to monitor and report people they consider vulnerable to extremism, embedding discrimination in public services.” As https://www.libertyhumanrights.org.uk/fundamental/prevent/ Liberty point out, “The definition of extremism under Prevent is so wide that thousands of people are being swept up by it – including children engaging in innocuous conduct, people protesting climate change, and a nurse who began wearing a hijab.” They say the Prevent duty must be scrapped.

One Law for All, a campaigning organisation against religious based laws and in defence of equality and secularism, and in particular calling on the UK government to put an end to all Sharia courts and religious tribunals, and had organised a rally opposite Downing St om Sunday 20th June 2010.

Although the Church of England’s courts are now restricted to matters inside the church, courts based on Islamic Sharia Law and Jewish Beth Din courts still have official recognition as arbitration tribunals, particularly related to marriage. The Jewish courts work under the principle that “the law of the land is the law”, giving precedence to English law, but this is not always the case with Sharia courts.

A small group of Muslims dressed in black with a very powerful public address system had come to oppose the One Law for All protest. The claimed to be ‘Muslims Against the Crusades’ or ‘Muslims Against Crusaders’, a group widely thought to be a reincarnation of the banned ‘Islam4UK’ (itself a relaunch of the banned Al-Muhajiroun.)

Maryam Namazie of One Law for All made clear they were not anti-Muslim:

“The battle against Sharia law is a battle against Islamism not Muslims, immigrants and people living under Sharia law here or elsewhere. So it is very apt for the Islamists to hold a counter-demonstration against our rally. This is where the real battleground lies. Anyone wanting to defend universal rights, secularism and a life worthy of the 21st century must join us now in order to push back the Islamists as well as fringe far Right groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party that aims to scapegoat and blame many of our citizens for Islamism.”

And around 20 members of that fringe right-wing group the EDL were there to protest against the Muslims.

After a while police took them to one side and searched them, threatening me with arrest when I went to take pictures, before leading them away.

Half an hour later several hundred young British Asians arrived from a rally in Whitechapel against the EDL – but they were too late to confront them as the EDL had already been removed by police.

Soon the One Law for All rally ended and they marched off towards the Iranian Embassy in Kensington. I walked with them to Victoria and then went home.

UAF Arrive to Oppose EDL
EDL Oppose Muslims Against Crusades
Muslim Crusaders For Sharia
No Sharia – One Law For All

Brexit – One Year On

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

Celebrating Brexit in Parliament Square

A year ago there were people celebrating that we were about to leave Europe. Some of them are probably still celebrating now, though we’ve yet to see any of the many advantages that were promised, and have had to come to grips with a few of the downsides.

People had come from across Britain to celebrate

Of course the virus has rather taken our minds off Europe, and while the date of 31st January 2020 had political significance, the transition period and apparently endless bickering over a trade agreement meant that effectively we only left on Christmas Eve – and with an agreement that, thanks to the ridiculous negotiating strategy of our government who seemed to expect that Europe would somehow cave in if we kept shouting at them in English that we would leave without a deal, was considerably less favourable than was on offer earlier in the process.

It’s been a year in which the sheer incompetence and greed of the Conservatives in handling the virus emergency – and in particular the handing out of contracts to their unsuitable and unqualified friends and donors and a dogmatic attitude towards local government and their efforts over previous years to move the NHS towards privatisation has led to many tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. In particular the near-total failure of a national system of tracking and tracing and a poorly implemented phone-based system seemed deliberately designed to increase transmission, perhaps in line with the government’s initial espousal of developing herd based immunity. This would have required a very high percentage of the population to have become infected, and given what was known at the time about the likely death rate, would have resulted in around 400,000 early deaths. Some in government apparently saw that as a bonus, as these would largely have been among the elderly and unproductive, hugely reducing the payments of pensions and other benefits and, post-covid, the costs of what remained of the NHS.

EU Supergirl’ Madeleina Kay – Forever Europe

But back on 31st January a year ago, Covid was not much on our minds (I began to get warnings I should isolate though contacts with those scientists advising the authorities a couple of weeks later – and it took another month after that for the government to react.) But Europe very much was, and as well as those celebrating there were others mourning our loss and celebrating “the 47 years we were in the EU and all we contributed and the positive influence it has on our country.”

A man shouts insults

The deliberately met several hours before the pro-Brexit celebrations were due to start avoid any clashes as they marched from Downing St to the offices of the European Commission in Smith Square, but despite this triumphant extreme-right Brexiteers came to Downing St to shout insults, calling the EU supporters traitors and telling them they were not British, bad losers and more. After police had managed to separate the more aggressive of them moving them to the centre of Whitehall they then attempted to burn an EU flag. The flag refused to burn, though it melted a little in the parts that were heated and the flames came almost entirely from an aerosol spray and some paper fliers.

Marchers celebrate our 47 years as part of Europe

The march went ahead, with just a few jeers as it passed through Parliament Square. At Europe House the European Commission staff came out to welcome them and were given flowers and there was a short speech expressing thanks for what the EU has done for our country and hoping that one day we will rejoin Europe.

European Commission staff meet the march outside Europe House

I went home then not wanting to join in the celebrations that were shortly to take place in Parliament Square. As I wrote at the time:

I’d had enough of Brexit. We will have to live with its consequences for some years and I’m not looking forward to it. Times are likely to be tough for the poor, the disabled, the sick and for workers generally,
including most of those who voted for it and were celebrating in Parliament Square. The wealthy will of course gain – not least by avoiding the clamp down on tax evasion which the EU is now beginning.

My London Diary, Jan 31 2020

À bientôt EU, see you soon
Extremist Brexiteers Behaving Badly
Brexiteers celebrate leaving the EU


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.


Just a year ago

Monday, January 18th, 2021

Just a year ago on Saturday 18th January I was going up to London as usual on a Saturday morning to photograph a number of protests. The day didn’t get off to a good start, as when I arrived at the location for the first event I was the only person there. I was a few minutes early, so I hung around, but when the actual time arrived and there was still only one person there (and even the organiser on Facebook hadn’t turned up) I gave up and left.

Before Facebook it was rather more difficult to share information about any protest, but now anyone can post an event. There is some indication of how much support any event has attracted, with Facebook showing the number of people who have clicked to show an interest or attend, but the numbers are incredibly unreliable. Interest means little or nothing, and often the great majority of those who perhaps thought on a Wednesday evening they might go change their minds if it means getting out of bed early on a wet Saturday morning. So its not unusual to find something doesn’t happen, though it is sometimes rather unpredictable.

Fortunately it was a fairly short walk to Downing St, where on the pavement opposite there was something for me to photograph. While a few of the global rich were meeting at the World Economic Forum on the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos, The Equality Trust, who I’d not heard of, but get funding from the EU, together with nine other organisations were holding holding an event as part of what they described as “a mobilisation by thousands of people in more than 30 countries worldwide to demand a fairer, more equal and sustainable future.” And for once the 94 who had said they were going on FB wasn’t that far from the actual attendance.

And though it wasn’t the most exciting protest I’ve covered it was certainly hard to disagree with what they were calling for:

  • good quality education, accessible housing, decent jobs and healthcare for all
  • an end to poverty wages, cuts in public spending and the decimation of social rights
  • an end to hunger and homelessness in the world’s sixth-largest economy
    fair and progressive taxation and an end to tax breaks for the wealthy
  • a wellbeing economy that serves people and planet, instead of profiting from environmental destruction.

As often when I’m covering a protest at Downing St, there was another taking place that I hadn’t been aware of, with a small group of protesters against Brexit calling for the release a report that had been completed before the December election but was held up by Boris Johnson because it revealed important Russian interference in UK politics including large donations to the Conservative Party and pro-Brexit campaigns.

From Downing St I walked up to the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square where two events were taking place. Since the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16 2014 there have been regular vigils in memory of the 304 victims, including the 250 high school children who were drowned after being told to ‘stay put’ on a lower deck. These silent vigils, mainly by Koreans or those with Korean relatives took place monthly for several years but are now quarterly.

Also on the north Terrace, elaborate preparations were taking place by Anglo-Iranian Communities in the UK and supporters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran’s National Council of Resistance of Iran for a rally in support of the anti-regime protests following the admission that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane. These protest in Iran have been suppressed with illegal force by the clerical regime. I was unable to wait for the start of the protest as I wanted to cover another event, and later abandoned my plans to return.

At Oxford Circus I joined protesters from Earth Strike, organised by the Revolutionary Socialist Group, who were handing out leaflets before their series of protests along Oxford Street outside banks and stores involved in the exploitation of the Global South and the destruction of the environment.

I went with them as they walked up and down Oxford St, stopping outside shops including HSBC, H&M, Microsoft, ee, McDonald’s and Zara for short speeches about the particular contributions these companies are making to climate change and how they exploit workers and resources in the South.

By the time it had got too late to be worth returning to Trafalgar Square and instead I went west to a protest close to the Russian Embassy in Kensington. Russia’s support has saved President Assad in Syria and they were protesting the war crimes of Assad and Putin against the people of Syria in Idlib province.

Russian support, particularly air support has enabled Assad to defeat and drive back the Syrian rebels who would otherwise probably have driven him from office and set up a more democratic government. Since mid-December Assad has waged a brutal and unprecedented military campaign with air raids that have targeted hospitals and markets and killed hundreds of civilians. Over 500,000 have fled from their homes but are unable to escape as the Turkish border is closed.

I talked with the protesters, many of whom I recognised from earlier Syrian protests. The situation in Syria is desperate and the Syrians, given hope in the early years by Western countries, have now been abandoned by the international community. One of the women had been saying her prayers at the protest, and unfortunately as I said to her there seems now to be little else we can do but pray and hope.

Against war crimes in Idlib
Earth Strike Oxford St rolling protest
‘Stay Put’ Sewol silent protest
Support for Anti-regime Protests in Iran
Release the Russia Report
Fight Inequality Global Protest


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.


‘Free the Table’ and more

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Free the Focus E15 Table


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

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


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

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

Pictures from both Santa events are in Santas in London.


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

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

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



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


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.


31st October 2009

Saturday, October 31st, 2020
“My Son (Paul Calvert) went to prison to lose his liberty not his life!”

In 2009 the 31st October was also a Saturday, and a busy day for me in London, though today I’ll be staying home and only going to the UFFC annual memorial on-line event which starts at 1pm. In 2009, the UFFC had also decided not to march, but groups from some of the families of those killed by police had come with their banners to protest opposite Downing St.

Earlier I’d photographed a mass protest ride by motorcyclists, angry at Westminster Council’s imposition just over a year earlier of parking charges for motorbikes as an ‘experimental measure’ which has become permanent as a good money-earner for the council. It did seem ridiculous that bikers were being charged more for an annual permit than owners of small cars when 8 motorbikes can be parked in one car space. Although still contributing to pollution in the city, motorbikes take up considerably less road space too, their use reducting congestion which is a major factor in producing the lethal levels of air pollution that result in almost 10,000 premature deaths in London as a whole.

 I’d gone on the photograph two groups protesting against the planned ‘March for Sharia’ by Anjem Choudary’s Islam4UK (a 2009 rebrand and relaunch of the radical Islamic group Al Muhajiroun, disbanded in 2004 to avoid proscription). Choudary, widely believed to have been cultivated by the UK security forces, probably never actually intended the group to march but announced as a provocation, always intended as a ‘no show’. He issued a statement around the time it was due to begin that the organisers had cancelled the march because of security concerns.

The two groups had gathered around the statue of Eros at Piccadilly Circus, although the information I’d heard from Islam4UK was that they would march from Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square via Downing St, around 600 yards away from the counter-protesters. There was certainly a lot of misinformation around before the event, and both Muslims4UK and The Islamic Society of Britain had called off plans for a counter-demo, possibly anticipating there was not to be a march. The larger group of protesters were supporters of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

Also present were a number supporters of extreme right anti-Islamic groups including the English Democrats, March For England and a few from the EDL. Later I found that more of the EDL were wandering around the Parliament Square area where the March4Shariah had been planned to start.

As I walked down from Piccadilly Circus towards Downing St and went through Trafalgar Square I met several angels, and accepted the offer of a hug, something we are currently rather short of, from one of the Angels of Love, Compassion, Wisdom, Patience, Courage, Happines or Harmony who gave me a picture of an angel on the reverse of which was written “I purify my mind by affirming my worth and honouring my choices for love.” I thanked her but refused the offer of a rose as I needed my hands for my cameras.

After talking with the ‘United Friends and Families‘ of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody, prison and ‘secure’ mental health facilities who were protesting at Downing St, I continued down to Parliament Square, where I met with other photographers and journalists who had been waiting for the March4Shariah to begin. None of those from Islam4UK had turned up and I went home.

United Families and Friends
Be With an Angel
Moderates gainst March4Sharia
Right Wing against March4Sharia
Protest Ride at Bike Parking Charge


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.


No More Police Killings

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Sadly since this march on Saturday 27 Oct 2012 there have been more deaths in custody in police stations, prison and secure mental health institutions – and there has been little or no progress in getting justice.

The march was the fourteenth annual protest march in Whitehall by the United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of people whose family members and friends have died while in the care of police, prisons and in psychiatric detention, and I’ve supported and photographed most of them. This years event, as always on the last Saturday of October like so many others, is taking place on-line starting at at 1:00pm on Saturday 31st October 2020 – more details here.

The march was impressive, making its way in silence at a snails pace down Whitehall, with police standing well back. When it came opposite Downing St there was an explosion of noise before they blocked the road to hold a rally at which various people spoke about the killing of their family members and the denial of justice. Singly many of the stories were horrific, but together they told a terrible story of police killing by illegal restraints, of failures of care as well as deliberate beating up in cells, and of the complete immunity provided by police lies, failures to investigate, destruction of evidence and a complaints system that aims to cover up police crimes.

Marcia Rigg who has been fighting to find out about her brother’s murder in Brixton Police Station in 2008 holds a list of over 3000 people who have died in custody since 1969
Sarah Campbell’s mother gave her life to campaigning for the Howard League for Penal Reform before committing suicide five years later on her daughter’s grave.
Demetre Fraser’s mother tells the truly unbelievable story police made up about her son”s death
Samantha Paterson, sister of Jason McPherson who died after being detained by police
Janet Alder speaks about the death of her brother Christopher, killed by police in Hull in 1992

I took many more pictures of the event, and you can see more of them on My London Diary in No More Police Killings, Time For Justice.


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.