Posts Tagged ‘gun crime’

Knives, Afrin and Vedanta

Thursday, May 26th, 2022

Knives, Afrin and Vedanta: Two of the four events I photographed on 26th May 2018 were connected with knife and gun crime in London, the other two about international events – the invasion of Afrin by Turkey and the fatal shooting by Indian police of protesters against the polluting activites of the Sterlite copper plant owned by Vedenta in Tamil Nadu.


‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime – Windrush Square, Brixton

London’s murder rate has increased by over a third in the last three years, and last year saw a 22% increase in recorded knife crime and 11% in gun crime. Of the 39 children and teenagers killed in the UK by knives last year over half were in London. The victims of knife crime are disproportionately young black men. Many attribute the rise in these crimes to the cuts in youth clubs, community projects, counselling and other services for young people, cuts in police and PCSO numbers and changes in illegal drug dealing.

Lambeth is an area that has suffered greatly from the cuts, and with a Labour council that often seems particularly insensitive to local needs, particular over housing where it has been colluding with developers over profiting from the destruction of social housing. It has also been subjected to some of the most discriminatory policing which has led to several riots or uprisings in Brixton over the years.

Brixton Seventh Day Adventist Church is in the centre of Brixton, worshipping a short walk from Windrush Square, where they had come on Saturday morning when normally they would be in church to protest and witness their concerns over the deaths. I’d missed photographing their march to the Square as they had taken a different route to that I’d expected but was able to spend some time photographing them speaking and singing the gospel. But it did seem to me that despite being hugely concerned and convinced in their beliefs that they were preaching only to the converted, with few of those walking past stopping to listen.

More pictures at ‘Be the Change’ Knife and Gun Crime.


Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult – Langham Place

I left Brixton and was making my way to the BBC when I was surprised by the Korean-based IYPG (International Peace Youth Group) making their way down Langham Place and stopped to photograph them. I knew nothing about them but saw they were marching with a posted about knife crime in London.

Back home later in the day I did my research on the web, finding the IYPG had held annual peace walks in countries around the world on or around May 25th since 2013, commemorating the ‘Declaration of World Peace’. The group was founded in South Korea by Mr Man Hee Lee, a war veteran and peacemaker who claims to have had a personal revelation linked to the biblical Book of Revelations. He is the leader of a strange heretical Christian cult in Korea called ShinChonji and a linked organisation Mannam. Critics say that although the IPYG hosts events such as these peace walks, they do nothing to promote peace but are a part of a recruiting drive for ShinConji whose followers are obliged to give large donations to the cult.

More pictures at Youth Peace Walk by Korean-based cult.


March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin – BBC to Westminster

Kurds and supporters held a short rally outside the BBC before marching to Downing St and Parliament Square to call for an end to the Turkish occupation of Afrin.

Among those speaking was the aunt of British volunteer Anna Campbell, killed defending Afrin. The invasion of Afrin began in January, and was carried out by Turkish forces together with former ISIS fighters. The Kurdish forces withdrew in March when they were in danger of being encircled and have vowed to continue the fight to regain Afrin through a guerilla war.

Erdogan would like to completely eliminate the Kurds who have been persecuted for many years in Turkey and to end the autonomous Kurdish led areas in both Syria and Iraq. Afrin was a part of Rojava, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria which has a liberal socialist constitution based on direct democracy which enshrines ethnic and gender equality and other fundamental human rights including freedom of religion – a huge contrast with Turkey’s increasingly Islamic autocracy.

I left the march after a short distance at Oxford Circus to make my way to the Indian High Commission in Aldwych.

More at March Against Turkish Occupation of Afrin.


India complicit in Thoothukudi killings – India House, Aldwych

Hundreds had come to protest outside the Indian High Commission protest at the Indian government complicity in the brutal repression of protests against pollution from the Sterlite copper plant at Thoothukudi, in the Southern State of Tamil Nadu. The protest was organised by Foil Vedanta, Tamil People in UK and PARAI – Voice of Freedom and supported by South Asia Solidarity Group and others including the Socialist Party.

On May 22nd, four days earlier, Indian police had fired into a crowd of protesters, killing 12 and wounding more than 60. Protests had been continuing for 100 days demanding that the plant, owned by a subsidiary of British company Vedanta Resources be closed down. Vedanta is said to be the largest donor to the Indian BJP party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Vedanta, set up by British Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal with UK government help in 2003 is notorious for its polluting activities in India, Goa, Zambia and elsewhere as well as unsafe working practices and tax evasion. Sterlite, which has a long record of dumping toxic waste and operating without proper licences is expanding and opening a second plant in the town. The London Mining Network say the Vedanta operates “like a house without a toilet” and “consistently dump waste next to their smelters and captive thermal power plants.”

Protesters called for an end to Vedanta’s polluting activities around the world, and an end for support for the company by both UK and Indian governments. They called for the Stock Exchange to delist the company – and the company delisted itself a few months later probably to avoid facing more public interest litigation in the UK.

More pictures at India complicit in Thoothukudi killings.


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XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019

Sunday, April 17th, 2022

XR, Axe Drax and Knife Crime 2019 – three years ago Extinction Rebellion were, like today, protesting on the streets of London, with several key locations in London blocked for most of the week. Some joined the Axe Drax protesting over the polluting wood-burning powerstation that gets environmental subsidies for massive pollution. And the families of victims of knife crimes held a rally at Downing St and later blocking Westminster Bridge calling for urgent action against knife crime.


XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues – Waterloo Bridge

With several of London’s key routes still blocked by Extinction Rebellion there were no buses in the central area, so I walked across Waterloo Bridge on my way from the station to the City. I could of course had used the tube, but XR had turned the bridge into a ‘Garden Bridge’ and I wanted to see how their protest there was progressing so went earlier to allow myself plenty of time.

The bridge over the River Thames was still closed and had plenty of plants on it – so XR had, despite a couple of hundred arrests, achieved something that Boris Johnson had failed to manage with his backing the ludicrous and expensive Garden Bridge scheme as Mayor. New protesters were arriving to keep the bridge green as I walked across, enjoying the atmosphere with no traffic pollution, only people, plants and bikes.

The only vehicle on the bridge was a lorry brought by XR to stop the flow of traffic and to act as a stage for performances. There were people on top and locked on underneath to frustrate any attempt by police to remove it. It was a sunny morning, warm for the time of year and people were enjoying themselves, some dancing to drums or listening to poets, story tellers and singers, some attending workshops, others just laying back and enjoying the sun.

Their aim was to keep the bridge closed to vehicles until the government took necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, telling tell people the truth about the disaster we are facing, halting biodiversity loss, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. They want a programme led by a Citizen’s Assembly on climate and ecological justice. The government failed to act, other than put increasing pressure on the police to remove the gardeners who held the bridge for over a week.

XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


Drax wood burning must end – Grocers Hall, City

Campaigners were picketing the Drax AGM in the City of London next to the Bank of England demanding an end to burning wood at Drax power station, the UK’s biggest carbon emitter.

In 2018 Drax got a huge subsidy of £789 million from a levy on our electricity bills because their highly polluting wood-burning qualifies them under a measure intended to combat climate change, not contribute to it. The wood they burn, largely from US forests which are being destroyed for it, contains carbon safely locked away, which they put back into the atmosphere that the trees removed it from. Drax – which was also planning to become the largest gas powered generating station in the UK, put 13 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2018.

Drax wood burning must end


XR around Parliament Square

I took the tube to Westminster where Extinction Rebellion were still blocking the streets around Parliament Square two days after they closed them to traffic.

More protesters were arriving to join the blockade, and the theatrical ‘Red Rebel’ group of protesters was walking around the area. I took a few pictures before walking up Victoria St to the Dept for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

XR around Parliament Square


Drax Protest at BEIS – Westminster

The Axe-Drax protesters had also come from the City to continue their protest outside BEIS demanding an end to environmental subsidies for massive pollution. Drax burns more wood each year than the UK produces, mainly from environmentally disastrous clear-felling of US forests. Drax also burns coal from opencast mining, again with huge environmental damage, disrupting some communities and lead to human rights abuses, particularly in Colombia.

Drax’s planned gas-fuelled power plant, 2.7 times larger than the existing largest gas-fired plant was planned to come into operation in 2025 and probably intended to get most of its gas from UK fracking or new gas fields in the UK and Shetlands. Campaigners say that we can only meet the desperate need to cut our emissions enough to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees if we keep the gas in the ground under land and sea – and that our longer-term aim needs to be to lower the CO2 levels. The campaigners were joined by a few more from Extinction Rebellion.

Drax Protest at BEIS


Knife crime campaigners Operation Shutdown – Westminster

Finally I joined a large group of campaigners from Operation Shutdown, a consortium of mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones who were holding a rally at Downing St calling for urgent action by the government to halt the growing epidemic of knife crime.

They called for stiffer penalities for knife and gun crime, an end to cuts to local services including youth work and theie restoration to pre-austerity levels, as well as more money to get more police on the streets. They want adequate safeguarding, a coordinated approach to trafficking and grooming and abuse of children and young people and a proper sharing of information and accountability for recently announced public health approach to knife crime.

At the end of the Downing Street rally they marched with two wreaths the short distance to Bridge Street where they presented the wreaths to a police officer and hold a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed at Parliament by terrorists, before continuing onto Westminster Bridge which they sat down on to hold a further rally.

Knife crime Operation Shutdown


More pictures and text on these stories on My London Diary:

Knife crime Operation Shutdown
Drax Protest at BEIS
XR around Parliament Square
Drax wood burning must end
XR Waterloo ‘Garden Bridge’ continues


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


Shutdown Knife Crime

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

Operation Shutdown is a campaign to end the deaths from knife and gun crime on our streets, which have been rising over the last few years. Most of those in the campaign are people who have suffered the pain of losing a relative – brother, son, nephew, uncle – or friend to knife crime.

The great majority of the victims are young men, in their teens or twenties, and although many are black what they virtually all have in common is that they come from working class families mainly living in deprived areas.

Almost certainly the biggest driver behind the increase in deaths has been austerity, with the huge cuts this has forced councils to make in youth services and other vital support for families. Some of the violence on the streets is certainly gang-related, often concerned with drugs, but those killed are often people on the periphery or innocent bystanders.

It would be impossible not to empathise with the suffering of mothers, fathers and other relatives as they talk about their loss, but I don’t always feel that some of the measures they suggest would do anything to curb the growth of knife crime. I have very little faith in their idea that the government’s emergency committee COBRA considering the problem would have any real impact, and it could well worsen the situation.

Of course there are things that they call for that would help. Restoring the cuts in vital community services is an obvious need, and reversing the cuts in police numbers could help too, though perhaps only if this led to more sensitive and informed community policing.

We need also to look at ways to reduce the power and influence of gangs, which would almost certainly include an evidence-led reform of our laws about drugs, something which succesive governments have resisted.

After a rally opposive Downing St, Operation Shutdown marched to Westminster Bridge, where they presented wreaths to a police officer and hold a silence in memory of PC Keith Palmer, killed outside Parliament by terrorists before going on to block the bridge and hold a further rally.

More at Knife crime Operation Shutdown


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