Posts Tagged ‘Extinction Rebellion’

Climate Rally for the Imagination

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Rally for the Imagination

XR Youth International

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More at XR Youth International.


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

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


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

March to the common

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
The banner ‘Are We The Last Generation blocks the main road for the march to take place

Lewisham Council’s web site records that Blackheath’s common has played host to more than its share of:

  • rebel gatherings
  • military encampments and exercises
  • royal meetings
  • religious festivals
  • sports
  • fairs
  • circuses

and a host of other activities.

And it goes on to list some of them, including Danish invaders in 1011, Wat Tylers anti-poll tax rebels in 1381, Jack Cade’s rebel yeomen in 1450, rebel Cornishmen in 1497 and John Wesley who preached there.

2009 Climate Camp general meeting at Blackheath

It fails to mention the chartists and the suffragettes who met their, or the Climate Camp with whom I travelled there in 2009, recorded their setting up and later returned to photograph.

Clearly it is an area that has a strong association with rebels over the years and so it was highly appropriate that South East London Extinction Rebellion chose it for the location of their two-day festival  on Global Climate Change.

I went to photograph their march from Greenwich to the festival site, and almost had to leave before it began, as the samba band which was to play a major role in bringin it to the notice of people in Greenwich was around an hour late in arriving.

I stayed with the marchers as they blocked the main streets of Greenwich and made their way up into Greenwich Park, climbing with them most of the way to the top of the hill before I had to leave and run downhill to catch a train back to central London and the next event I wanted to cover.

XR Rebel Rising March to the Common


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


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


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Marching with a yacht

Monday, December 9th, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

More at XR Summer Uprising procession.


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


We need an Ecocide Law

Sunday, December 8th, 2019

Though I fully support the aims of Extinction Rebellion I do have some issues about the way they go about things. I’ve mentioned before some of the odder ‘New Age’ baggage, and that was very much to the fore when I arrived at the Royal Courts of Justice with some kind of druid presiding over a ceremony with people bringing water from rivers around the country (and some overseas) to tip into a large cauldron.

And then there’s the yachts. I just don’t inhabit the kind of milieu where people have yachts, though I did once own a canoe, or rather a kayak. I built it myself as a teenager in the pre-glass fibre era, a wooden framework over which some kind of rubberised canvas was fixed. It’s construction took several years,mainly because I had to save up the cash to buy every next step of the construction, first the plans, then the wood and ply and the canvas.

I was proud when I had it finished, built in my father’s large shed – where he and his father had made carts and other horse-drawn vehicles. But I’d run out of money and couldn’t afford a paddle and it was a long way to any water and I had no means to transport the canoe even to the nearest stream where it could be floated.

It was I think around 18 months later that a relative kindly strapped it to the roof of his car and we made our way the the Thames at Runnymede, along with single paddle handmade from a couple of pieces of wood (again from my father’s shed.) Although I’d been in rowing boats and possibly larger Canadian canoes as a Sea Scout, I’d never been in a kayak before, and it wasn’t longer before I wasn’t in it any more, but looking up at it through perhaps ten feet of murky Thames water from the bottom of the river. I think that was the end of my canoeing project, and after that I stayed on dry land and rode my bike.

So my relationship to water was not perhaps the most sympathetic as I watched those people coming towards the cauldron to add their half pint, and things got worse when people were invited to stir the water and make wishes and then to add flowers and other stuff before the cauldron was carried towards the court and then a token libation poured on the ground.

Of course there were other things going on, including speeches (some very sensible and to the point), music etc. But when a man came to speak about how uplifting his experience of being arrested had been and to encourage us all to do it, again I was rather turned off. Too many of my friends over the years have been harassed by police, fitted up and assaulted; arrest isn’t generally a very positive experience, particularly if you are poor and or from an ethnic minority. Like much about XR I think it is very much a class thing.

But of course we should have strong laws that protect the environment – including the Ecocide Law that Polly Higgins, after whom the pink yacht here was name, fought to get accepted for many years. More generally we need laws that get away from the idea of the land as private property and recognise it as a community resource with which we are entrusted rather than we own.

XR call for Ecocide Law


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Hackney XR March

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

On Friday I’d had to leave the Extinction Rebellion ‘The Air That We Grieve’ march as it reached the Hackney border to go to a protest at Senate House, but on Saturday afternoon there was another march as a part of the ‘East London Uprising weekend, walking through the centre of Hackney from Hackney Fields and on to the centre of the event in London Fields.

Before the march in Hackney Fields there were a couple of things taking place, a dance performance which I found less than exciting visually and some kind of meditation thing which was frankly off-putting. There is an odd-ball new age side to XR that I think works very strongly against it appealing to the great majority of people and which certainly turns me off.

But there were the people, the giant bees and the skeletons to photograph, so I stayed and took pictures, and of course I wanted to photograph the march. But it did make me think that perhaps this was a part of the reason why of the several million East Londoners only a couple of hundred were with us for this march. XR has had a remarkable success, but only with some sections of the community and I think rather more in small towns and rural areas than in working class urban communities.

Looking through the many pictures I made on the march it doesn’t really look like a Hackney event, though I’m sure many or most of those taking part were from the area. Official figures show that “around 40% of the population come from Black and Minority Ethnic groups” but these were severely under-represented.

This isn’t a criticism of those that did take part, and I think the XR has been important in raising awareness of the urgency of the enviromental crisis we are now facing. It has performed a vital service and we see its efforts represented to some extent in the manifestos of all the political parties in the current general election – though so far there has been little real commitment by our government – or those of most other countries.

It was a hot day and I’d been on my feet for several hours and I needed a rest by the time the protest passed Hackney Town Hall. I had intended to continue to the festival taking place on London Fields, but couldn’t bring myself to walk any further, and after a brief rest made my way to Hackney Central to begin my journey home.

More pictures at East London Extinction Rebellion March.


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


March for Clean Air

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

Extinction Rebellion East London had organised a whole weekend of event , a festival of play, protest and education, the East London Uprising calling for a rapid end to the use of fossil fuels.

Apart from their huge contribution to our increasing carbon dioxide levels which are leading to unprecedented man-made global heating the will put the future of humanity at risk, the pollution levels already present in London and other cities from coal, petrol and fuel oils which pollute the air with toxic chemicals and particulates is already causing many thousands to suffer from various often serious lung diseases and is estimated to lead to almost 10,000 early deaths in London alone.

The marchers met in a small open space called Paradise Gardens, between the busy Cambridge Heath Road and houses in Paradise Row. It may have seemed like paradise when these houses were built in the late 18th and early 19th century, and doubtless they are now horrifically expensive, but this paradise is now highly polluted.

The march set off from Bethnal Green to Hackney behind a banner ‘The Air That We Grieve’, and included a marching jazz band, and of course plenty of families with children. As well as the jazz band there were samba drummers, and the ‘king of the bottle tops’ and others.

The march attracted considerable interest as it went up the Cambridge Heath Road, with many expressing support. But there was no general uprising and perhaps there are releatively few who are actually changing the way they behave, changing to lower carbon lifestyles as we all need to do. It requires a much greater urgency from a government which is prepared to make statements but not to take on the vested short-term interests of many of its backers by significant green investments and policies that will really impact on personal choices.

More pictures from the event at XR East London marches for clean air


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


French Police brutality

Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Unlike many of my colleagues I’ve seldom photographed protests in France, although it’s a relatively short journey to Paris from London on Eurostar. There are several reasons why I’ve not done so, and expense is one of them, as I would be unlikely to cover the fare from the meagre fees that I normally get for use of images, so as a freelance it would make little sense to go. But even where I to be offered a commission I would almost certainly turn it down.

I have on a few occasions when I’ve been in Paris attended protests and photographed them, but I’ve never been happy doing so and have usually found good reason to leave after a short time. All those other photographers dressed in helmets and full battle gear are a little off-putting when your only head protection is a woolly hat.

I decided long ago that I wasn’t going to wear a helmet, or shin pads or kevlar vests or any of the other gear that some photographers sensibly wear to protect themselves from protesters, projectiles and police, and instead to simply keep clear as best I can of situations where these are de rigueur – which more or less rules out covering most French protests. Just occasionally I’ve had to retreat a little from the front line at some London protests too, but fortunately things seldom get so heated.

There have been times when I’ve had to dodge bricks and stones and other projectiles from protesters but most actual violence I’ve suffered has been by police who have knocked me flying, thrown me to the ground, pushed and punched me. But our police are easy-going compared to “les keufs”, who on one notable occasion in 1961 killed a couple of hundred (the exact number is not know) of Algerian protesters, beating many of them before throwing them into the Seine.

Today’s protest in front of the French Embassy was over an incident the previous weekend at a bridge over that same river in Paris. Extinction Rebellion protesters who had sat down in the roadway on the Pont de Sully were pepper-sprayed in their faces at close range causing burns; they pulled the sunglasses from one protester to spray directly into the eyes. Others were injured by being dragged forcefully across the road.

An eye-witness spoke at the protest describing what he had seen and heard, though most of those taking part had already seen and been incensed by videos of the attack posted on social media. They protesters then learnt several of the French chants and songs that the XR protesters had been singing on the Pont de Sully.

Finally there was a theatrical re-enactment of the incident, with protesters sitting on the roadway being sprayed with water by white-coated ‘police’. It was rather chaotic and difficult to photograph and it proved very tricky to actually capture water being sprayed

More pictures at Protest French police attack on XR.


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

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

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.