Posts Tagged ‘Free Tommy’

LAFA halt Free Tommy

Thursday, January 30th, 2020
LAFA set off flares as they approach the Free Tommy protest

‘London is Anti-Fascist’ says the banner of the London Anti-Fascist Assembly, and I’m fairly sure that this is a true reflection of what most Londoners think, though few of them actually get out onto the streets to say so. Most Londoners are busy getting on with their lives rather than coming out onto the streets, but when the EDL tried marching into Whitechapel a few years ago their was a pretty impressive community mobilisation, if not quite on the scale of Cable Street in 1936 or Bermondsey the following year.

Masked protesters and a placard ‘British State Racist State’

As in the 1930s there are many among the wealthy who still run the country who hold right-wing views, though they largely avoid the obviously racist expressions of the extreme right on our streets. But they pander to them, with clearly racist immigration legislation and enforcement by the Border Agency and police and the increasing refusal to accept refugees or beleive asylum claims. Some of this came to a public notice with the ‘Windrush’ scandal, and this still continues and we see another manifestation in the ridiculous hoops some EU nationals are now having to jump through to remain in the UK.

People carry poles to protect the side of the march

The legal case against ‘Tommy Robinson’ seems 100% clear. He was arrested for a contempt of court that he admitted when brough to court, and which could have predjudiced the trial outside which he was live-streaming. It was nothing to do with ‘freedom of the press’ or ‘freedom of speech’ but all about threatening justice and a fair trial.

A protest holds a list of convicted EDL and Far Right Sex Offenders

And as many have commented, Robinson has had nothing to say about white pedophiles, many from extreme right groups. Antifa were handing out a long list of EDL and Far Right convicted sex offenders at the protest.

Smoke flares draw attention to the Antifa protest

The ‘Free Tommy’ protesters were greatly outnumbered by Antifa, and also by the police who kept the two groups apart, pushing back the anti-fascists. At first there were little more than a handful of them, though later a small march of perhaps 50 people arrived from Downing St with a larger police escort to protect them. A rather larger group from Stand Up to Racism also arrived to join the Antifa protesters – along with just a handful more police.

A ‘Free Tommy’ protester shouts at Antifa protesters. Police warned her about her language.

I hung around for an hour or two, then went to photograph a protest a few hundred yards away at the Polish embassy before returning to find the situation was much the same stalemate

Stop the Fascists

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

London has a long tradition of standing up to attempts by fascists to march through the city, not least of Cable St in 1936 and the battle of Bermondsey a year later.

Of course it’s also true that many of the supporters of Mosley were Londoners – and Bethnal Green in particular was one of their stronger areas with Mosley claiming 4,000 members there. And many of those who came to Shoreditch in 1978 when the National Front moved its HQ there were also Londoners, as were the 2000 who packed the top of Brick Lane attempting to stop them.

More recently anti-fascists have come out on the streets to stop the marches of the EDL in Walthamstow and Whitechapel and against supporters of Tommy Robinson.

While the crowd were trying to defend Brick Lane in Shoreditch in 1978, the Anti-Nazi League, formed by the Socialist Workers party and others was holding their event in opposition to the NF, a much larger Carnival Against the Nazis miles away in Brockwell Park, Brixton, seen by many in East London as a diversion from the real fight against the fascists.

On this occasion there was a similar split of the opposition to the ‘Free Tommy’ protesters, but at least they were roughly in the same place, with London Anti-Fascist Alliance meeting around Eros in Piccadilly Circus and across the street on the wide pavement outside Boots and Barclays was a small rally by Stand Up to Racism.

And once the London Antifascists began the march up Regent St towards the Free Tommy protesters who were gathering outside the BBC, most or all of the Stand Up to Racism supporters joined in behind them. Police stopped the combined march at the junction with Hanover St. The anti-fascists made a tentative effort to turn into Great Marlborough St, but were blocked by a police line in front of a row of police vans. They then left as directed by the police who took them down Hanover St, and from Hanover Square turned up to cross Oxford St and go up to Cavendish Square.

Police again blocked an attempt to turn right and return to Regent St and the march came to a halt. I left at this point, first to go and briefly view the ‘Free Tommy’ protesters who were being held by police in front of the BBC, and then to photograph a small protest taking place at Downing St.

I returned to the BBC around an hour later, and the right wing protesters were still there, fed up with the police not allowing them to march. By that time the anti-fascists had apparently come close enough to make their presence felt and after some spending some time shouting appeared to have dispersed. I felt it was time for me to go home as well.

After I got home I heard that finally the police did allow the fascists to march, several hours later than intended. There were apparently a few incidents on their way, and some of them attacked pro-democracy protesters outside the Algerian embassy, presumably because they were foreign.

More at Anti-Racists march against the far right and ‘Free Tommy’ protest.


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Community Guidelines

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Around ten days ago for the first time I got a notification from Facebook that one of my pictures had been reported as being against ‘community standards’ and had been taken off-line.

It was a picture in an album of pictures from the June 2018 ‘Free Tommy Robinson’ protest in London, I think this image.

Certainly one of the pictures from when the protesters were gathering in Trafalgar Square before marching down to a rally in Whitehall. This picture was taken from the North Terrace overlooking the square, after which I walked down and took a few more from the edge of the crowd, as well as a few closer pictures.

You can see more of my coverage of the event at Free Tommy Robinson on My London Diary. After the pictures in Trafalgar Square I photographed the protesters as they walked down Whitehall towards the stage for the rally, and was in the crowd close to Downing St when I was attacked by two men who tried to pull my camera out of my hands.

I struggled, pulling away and twisting and moving away through the dense crowd and they followed, one continuing to grab my camera and pull it away, and the other grabbing my other camera which was on a strap at my right side, and at my camera bag on my left shoulder. Fortunately the straps held and though the bag was pulled off my shoulder I had my arm through the strap and was able to drag it behind me along the ground, moving closer to the police at Downing St and the march stewards.

I think a few of the other protesters in the crowd were also telling the pair of thugs to stop, though none actually came to my help. But when they saw the police looking at them they let go of me and my cameras and rushed away. I was shaken but not injured, and the cameras were OK, and managed to take a few more pictures before I decided I really needed to move somewhere safer and recover.

I suspect that what had triggered the complaint to Facebook about the picture – I think the first of the set – was nothing in the picture, but that in the captions I had written about this attack on me. I’ve always tried to report accurately on protests, including those by right-wing groups, both in text and pictures, and this is anathema to many on the right. Some of whom are thugs on-line too.

Of course I requested a review of the removal – as the notification from Facebook had told me I could, and only 70 minutes later got a message thanking me for asking for review and informing me they had decided the image did not breach community standards and was back on line. Good to see the review system can work – but surely the system should look at complaints and see if there is any basis for them before taking action.

I mention this because I’ve just read a post by Jörg M Colberg on his Conscientious blog, Your Post Goes Against Our Community Guidelines: An Algorithmic Rewriting of History about the rather more serious censorship of his and other posts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Like me he contested the removal of a picture he posted – one from the Abu Ghraib archives – and his post was also restored. In the post he points out the problems and dangers of internet censorship:

It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a government that’s censoring photographs or the algorithms of a US corporation — censorship is censorship, and these kinds of developments do not bode well for us.

and gives a number of pertinent links, including one to his own earlier post Your Post Has Been Deleted – Censorship on Instagram which is also well worth reading.

I think there should be some control over content on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, to remove clearly illegal content. Things like hate speech, terrorist propaganda, threats of violence etc. It’s perhaps difficult to see how this could be applied in content that is shown in many different legislations, but that is a problem for those who profit from these platforms to resolve, and might involve serious changes in the services and their profitablity. But because it’s difficult doesn’t absolve them from their responsibilities, though it may demand different models.


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.