Posts Tagged ‘Eros’

Alevi, Flag Wavers, Fuel Poverty & A Party

Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

Alevi, Flag Wavers, Fuel Poverty & A Party – London on Saturday February 16th 2013


Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK

The Alevi are Turkey’s largest religious minority, with between 10 and 20 million of them living in the country and worshipping in their own language. Their religion is Islamic but men and women worship together, and women are not required to cover their hair and poetry, music and dance are central to their worship. It is a distinct form of Muslim religion which is related to Shi’ism, which contrasts with the official Turkish Sunni practice.

It is a religion that cuts across Turkey’s ethnic groups, and although most Alevi are ethnic Turks about a quarter of Turkey’s Kurds are also Alevi. They have been persecuted in Turkey for centuries, often attacked and sometimes killed, and are not allowed to build worship houses. While Christian and Jewish children are exempted from the compulsory Sunny Islam religious classes in Turkish schools, Alevi are not.

Their protest in Trafalgar Square called for democracy in Turkey and an end to discrimination and persecution, and an end to the compulsory religious education. They also called for the UK government to live up to its responsibilities for all immigrant communities whose views they say are ignored here, calling on immigrants to ‘Unite and Fight’ to get political representation that would demand equal treatment over health and education and fighting crime.

Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK


Defend the Union Flag

The Defend the Union Flag protest was called by the ‘South-East Alliance’ a small extreme right anti-immigration group of former English Defence League, whose leader Paul Pitt was thrown out of the EDL in 2012 to support Loyalists in Belfast who were protesting against a decision that the Union Flag should only be flown on the City Hall there on 18 designated days.

The protest was supported by other extreme right groups, notably Britain First, whose leader Paul Golding and Northern Ireland organiser Jim Dowson also spoke at the rally.

It was an uncomfortable event to photograph, and I received a number of threats and warnings from some of those taking party who I recognised from earlier protests I’d covered by the BNP, March for the Flag, EDL and Britain First, though many mistake me for another photographer who worked for Searchlight. A few who knew me were more friendly and came to talk with me. Although I’ve always made clear that I have different views, I’ve also tried to report these events objectively as a journalist.

Defend the Union Flag


Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock

Back in 2013 we were also being faced with rising fuel bills, and Fuel Poverty Action had organised a national day of action. In London this began with a rally outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change on Whitehall and was then followed by a road block on Whitehall led by the Disabled Peoples Direct Action Network, DAN.

The rally on the pavement was crowded and was supported by Disabled People Against Cuts, Greater London Pensioners’ Association, Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, Southwark Pensioners’ Action Group, Global Women’s Strike and others.

Cuts and price rises meant then that one in four families now has to choose between heating their homes adequately or eating properly. Many children now go to school hungry and even the wealthiest suburban areas now need to have churches and others setting up food banks for those unable to buy food.

The government had cut services and cut benefits as a part of their austerity programme. Their energy policy is largely dictated by the Big Six energy companies, who continue to increase their profits while the consumers of energy suffer and had largely ignored the pressing need to increase renewable energy and cut power generation for gas and coal that was powering global warming.

When DAN blocked the road, with some in wheelchairs chaining them together, the rally continued and police stood back and watched, diverting traffic away. After around 15 minutes they came to try and persuade them to leave the road. The arguments continued for around another 15 minutes, after which the protesters agreed they would leave in around a further 10 minutes. But I had to leave before they did so as I had a party to go to.

Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock


Reclaim Love Valentines Party

The 11th Reclaim Love free Valentine’s Party took place around Eros in Piccadilly Circus, aiming to spread peace and love around the world, and to reclaim love from its commercial exploitation.

I had been held up photographing the DAN roadblock and had missed the major part of the event when several hundred people held hands in a large circle around Eros, chanting together ‘May All The Beings In All The Worlds Be Happy & At Peace’. But it was good to meet up with some friends and take some pictures.

Venus Cumara, the originator of this annual event in 2003 told me this was this was the last she would organise and I made sure to get plenty of pictures of her. We occasionally talked about producing a book on the event together, but it hasn’t happened, though perhaps I might do so on my own one day.

As I wrote back in 2013:

There are really very few such spontaneous events in London like this, and this is unique in central London. I’ve photographed most of these events and I hope that they will continue with others taking over the running in future years.

Reclaim Love Valentines Party

You can read more about all four events and see many more pictures on My London Diary:
Reclaim Love Valentines Party
Fuel Poverty Rally & DAN Roadblock
Defend the Union Flag
Alevi Protest Discrimination in Turkey & UK


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Ten Years Ago – 30 Nov 2011

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

Occupy protesters outrun police down Haymarket

Ten years ago today on Wednesday 30th November the TUC called a one day general strike over the government plans to cut public service pensions and their failure to enter any meaningful discussion with the trade unions on them.

The Southern & Eastern Region of the TUC, SERTUC, organised a march and rally in London, and at least 20,000 people came for a peaceful march through the capital. At the head of the march was TUC Deputy General Secretary Frances O’Grady, along with leaders of several of the other unions and professional associations taking part in today’s strike by public sector workers.

Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and NASUWT president John Rimmer and a French trade unionist

Along with many strikers, including many taking strike action and marching for the first time there were also others who came to join them, including students and groups including UK Uncut and activist groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, and a number of people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks.

Some of these people began walking ahead of the official march and police stretched a line of officers across Aldwych stopping both them and the march behind them, but eventually they let the march continue. Although the march was going to Parliament along the Embankment, police had closed off Whitehall and created more traffic chaos than the large march.

UK Uncut had come to support the march and were handing out cups of tea from a yard in front of some offices on the square in what they called a ‘solidaritea!!’ action to support the strike.

Later around a hundred protesters from Occupy London rushed into the building in which mining company Xstrata has its offices in a protest against Mick Davies, its CEO, who they say “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

They met at Picadilly Circus under the eyes of around a hundred police watching and photographing them from the steps around Eros, and after around half and hour in intermittent rain a small group rushed across the road to stand outside a branch of Boots with a banner reading ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’, but made no attempt to enter the store, which then quickly put down its metal shutters.

Protesters rush into Panto House

But this was just a diversion, and the rest of the group rushed down Haymarket behind a long banner reading ‘All Power to the 99%’ and then turned abruptly down Panton St and rushed into Panton House. The police had got rather left behind and were unable to stop them, and I followed in after some of the protesters, but got very out of breath rushing up the stairs.

A crowd of protesters make it hard to get up the stairs

I hadn’t picked up completely on what was happening, and failed to get up to the roof where a group of around 20 was continuing the protest against Mick Davies, CEO of mining Company Xstrata and the highest paid CEO in the UK. Police forced me and other protesters still on the stairs to go down and leave the building.

I was disappointed not to get onto the roof with other photographers, but rather pleased that, since it was impossible to take more pictures I could now go home. Those on the roof were kept there by police for rather a long time and those who had hung around on the street outside were also kettled.

See more on My London Diary:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March


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Catalonia & Levitation

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

I began work on Saturday October 21st 2017 with a large group of Catalans at Piccadilly Circus, demanding immediate release of the political prisoners Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, and end to the repression and the start of dialogue to accept the electoral mandate of the Catalan Referendum.

After several speeches they set of to march to Trafalgar Square for photographs and then on to Downing St where they called on the UK Government to condemn the violence towards civilians during the referendum vote in Catalonia and to support a democratic solution.

In June 2021 the nine separatist leaders who had been jailed for sedition in 2017 were released, and talks finally restarted in September, with the Catalan government demanding an amnesty for the many pro-independence politicians still facing legal action over their part in the 2017 independence referendum and for the Spanish government to acknowledge their right to hold a referendum on self-determination, both demands still resisted by the government.

March in Solidarity with Catalonia


I left the Catalans at Parliament Square, where it wasn’t clear if their protest was ended but I was on my way to meet Class War’s Levitation Brigade of Ian Bone and shaman Jimmy Kunt (aka Adam Clifford) who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Yippee levitation of the Pentagon during anti-Vietnam War protests with a similar action at Kensington Town Hall.

Standing on the steps of the entrance to the town hall of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the council responsible for the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower, Adam called out the demons of councillors including Nicholas Paget-Brown, Rock Feilding-Mellen & Elizabeth Campbell and attempted to levitate the town hall to a height of over 70 metres. “Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!

A security officer told them that they couldn’t do that here, but they told her it wasn’t possible to stop a levitation or exorcism and the ceremony went ahead.

Afterwards Ian Bone repeated a well-known quote from 1967 “You mean you didn’t see it, man?”

Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall

Flushed with success the Levitation Brigade decided to cross Kensington High St and repeat the exorcism and levitation at the offices of the Daily Mail, standing on the pavement outside between the offices and a highly polished Rolls-Royce.

Security staff there reacted angrily to Class War calling out the demon of Paul Dacre and their attempt to raise the building by over 70 metres, perhaps fearing it might damage the Rolls-Royce parked outside, but the levitation ceremony went ahead despite considerable interference.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail

Security here reacted rather more aggresively, coming to push the crew away and telling me I could not take photographs. I was standing on the pavement and told them I had every legal right to photograph whatever I chose, but had to move back rahter smartly to avoid getting fingerprints on my lens.

Class War of course found the over-reaction by the Daily Mail extremely amusing and continued to bait the security for some minutes after the levitation before leaving as you can see on My London Diary.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail
Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall


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Valentine for Venus

Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

Like everyone else at this year’s Reclaim Love street party I was delighted that Venus CuMara, who founded this remarkable annual street party back in 2004 was there, and to hug her and to hear her speak.

I missed that first event in 2004 as I was in Paris with my wife for Valentine’s Day and her birthday a few days later. This year was the 16th ‘Reclaim Love’ free Valentine’s Day street party and like all except I think the first which began in Trafalgar Square, took place around the statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus, with drumming, music, dancing poetry to celebrate reclaim love as a manifestation of the human spirit from the sleazy commercialisation which has taken over Valentine’s Day as a festival of profit.

Many of us still have the free t-shirts which were handed out to all who wanted them at several of these events, with their message “MAY ALL THE BEINGS IN ALL THE WORLDS BE HAPPY AND AT PEACE, though mine is now a little stained and doesn’t often get worn.

It was this same mantra that was repeated as those present made a large circle around Piccadilly Circus to share Venus’s message of peace and love around the world. Venus called it a “Massive Healing Reclaim Love Meditation Circle beaming Love and Happiness and our Vision for world peace out into the cosmos“.

Police stood back and watched this unofficial event each year, sometimes coming to persuade those who had climbed up onto the top of the fountain to come down. I think the only more serious intervention came when one year everyone went to the sacred grove of trees in Green Park to make the large circle there, and the police in the park were definitely not amused.

Beginning in 2005, I’ve photographed the street party almost every year and shared the pictures on-line, both on Facebook and on My London Diary. I missed 2016, when I was too ill to go, and 2017 when I was in Hull (both celbrating the city of culture and again my wife’s birthday.)

Venus and I have talked on several occasions about bringing out a book with my pictures of the events and her poems and reflections, but haven’t got around to making it happen.

A couple of years ago we were shocked to hear that Venus was suffering from cancer, and she missed the 2018 party at a retreat in Indonesia. But this year she was back again, though with the cancer still spreading through her body, speaking about it and about how we should all hug ourselves and each other. Her cancer has made her even more determined to spread her message of love.

Much more at Reclaim Love 2019 street party


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