Posts Tagged ‘love’

Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Valentine’s Day 2015 – Reclaim Love and Release Shaker – two events I photographed on St Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2015.


Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros

I’ve photographed the Valentine street party at Piccadilly Circus most years, though I missed the first one, but it seldom takes place actually on the 14th February, as since the event began in (I think 2003) there have been only two years where that has been a Saturday – 2009 and 2015.

A 2010 article in ‘Resurgence’ described the intentions of the event well:

Valentine’s Day, which has its origins as far back as the Middle Ages, is traditionally a day where people show their affection by sending each other handwritten ‘love notes’. But again, this simple affirmation has been hijacked by corporations to the point where cards, chocolates, jewellery – even weekend breaks – are now expected.

But not everybody wants to participate in this orgy of consumerism. Now in its seventh year, Reclaim Love is a global movement away from celebrating Valentine’s Day with flowers and chocolates towards a day of celebrating Love itself. All around the world people are taking to the streets, parks or organised venues to link hearts and minds to send a warm message of love, unity and joy out into the world

Resurgence magazine
Venus Cumara

The event was conceived and coordinated by Irish poet Venus CuMara, and spread to a number of cities around the world, where at 3pm UTC also join hands in a large circle and recite together the mantra ‘May all the beings in all the world be happy and at peace’, an English translation of an ancient Sanskrit prayer.

Before and after this there is a great deal of celebration, with drumming, dancing and various free gifts of food and often t-shirts bearing the mantra. I have a couple of these, though have to admit I have seldom worn them, though I did give one away to one of my sons.

It wasn’t possible to hold a public gathering in 2021, but Venus asked for people to meditate at 3.30pm and hosted a livestream. I missed the event in 2020 as I was busy elsewhere, but it was very small, probably because of the abysmal weather.

2018

The last time I photographed Reclaim Love was in 2019, when we were all delighted to see Venus who despite suffering from cancer which is spreading through her body, was in great spirits and able to speak about her message of love. She had missed the previous year’s event as she was in Indonesia being treated for her cancer.

Venus in 2019

Venus asked people to go to Piccadilly Circus for Reclaim Love on 12 Feb 2022 in a video on the Facebook page, though this was only posted the previous day, and she apologised for not being able to be there in person. I went along to see if anything was happening a little after 3pm and found nothing, waited a few minutes and then left as I had another event to attend. Later I saw a photograph of around five people who were there at 3.33pm, the ‘circle’ time. Perhaps next year there will be more.

Venus CuMara Reclaim Love 13 at Eros


Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer

Earlier in the day I’d walked with protesters from Parliament Square to a rally opposite Downing St calling for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he arrived has been held and regularly abused for 13 years without charge or trial.

He arrived at Guantanamo on the 14th February 2002, and there has been subjected to several hundred incidents of beating and torture, including one notorious occasion in June 2006 where he was taken to a special secret interrogation site; three men who were taken with him for similar treatment that day died from asphyxiation, but he survived similar treatment.

Long cleared for release he continued to be held, probably because his evidence would be embarrassing both for the US and UK authorities. He has a British wife and resident status, and a campaign led to the UK government eventually making requests for him to be freed after he was cleared for release in 2007 and again in 2009. Despite this they UK had also spent over a quarter of a million pounds in legal fees to prevent his legal team gaining access to evidence to prove his innocence.

He was eventually released at the end of October 2015.

Valentine Day – 13 years for Shaker Aamer


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End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out! 2016

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Five years ago the People’s Assembly and Stand Up To Racism organised a march through London as a response to the referendum campaign conducted by many Brexit campaigners on an anti-immigration platform which had provoked an upsurge in racism and hate attacks on Black and particularly Muslim people online and on the streets of Britain.

The marchers met outside the BBC, as I wrote ” in the forlorn hope that they might for once cover a protest in Britain properly” but of course they ignored the thousands on their doorstep. Probably they were too busy giving Nigel Farage a quite disproportionate amount of publicity and air-time, along with the Labour plotters against Jeremy Corbyn – who sent a message of support to the marchers and like them showing solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers.

This banner and the placards for me summed up the message of the march, a demand for ‘Hope Not Hate’ and for people of all backgrounds to join hands in love and respect and say ‘No Racism’. We’ve recently seen a huge backlash against racist remarks against footballers in the English team showing that people across the country oppose racism, whether from the far right or Tory ministers and MPs who denigrate footballers who ‘Take the Knee’.

Later I managed to get to Parliament Square for the rally at the end of the march with speakers from many organisations, including an asylum seeker as well as politicians and activists. It was a sunny day and there was a warm and pleasant atmosphere in the large crowd listening and applauding the speakers.

I’d waited on Regent St as the march set off for some time until the last of the several thousand marchers had passed me, then hurried off to the HQ Offices of CBRE in Henrietta Place, where cleaners from the strike at 100 Wood St, managed by CBRE, had broken away from the march to stage a flash mob, along with supporters including United Voices of the World General Secretary Petros Elia and Bakers Union (BFAWU) National President Ian Hodson.

I’d arrived too late to go with them into the foyer, whose large glass doors were firmly locked when I arrived, but after a few minutes photographing through glass the doors were opened I was able to take a few more pictures as they got ready to leave. They went on to rejoin the march, but I went off to look for the English Defence League whose protest had been called to oppose that by the People’s Assembly.

I don’t like photographing extreme right-wing groups such as the EDL. It gives them publicity, which they don’t deserve as it exaggerates their importance. Generally their protests are small and their extremism represents a very small fringe of our society, though racist attitudes unfortunately are much more widespread. But rather more directly they are generally not nice people to be near. They shout and scream messages of hate, often in vile language, and routinely threaten me as I take photographs. I’ve been spat at and even, fortunately not often, grabbed, pushed and punched.

While with most protests I can move freely through the event, at these I need to keep a safe distance away. I’m usually glad that police are present, and without them I would be assaulted and my equipment smashed, but police sometimes make any photography virtually impossible. While I’d managed to cover the march I could only see brief glimpses of the rally which followed through several lines of police with several hundred of them surrounding perhaps a hundred protesters. I gave up then and took the tube to cover the anti-racist rally.

EDL march and rally
Cleaners Flash Mob at CBRE London HQ
End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!


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.


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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