Posts Tagged ‘march’

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur 2008

Saturday, May 25th, 2024

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur: On Sunday morning 25th May 2008 I made my way to Red Lion Square in Holborn to photograph the Pagain Pride public procession. Later I went to Downing Street were protesters were meeting to march to a rally at the Sudanese Embassy calling for Sudanese war criminals to be brought to justice.


Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash – Red Lion Square/Russell Square

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

Pagans – or rather neo-Pagans had come to Conway Hall in the corner of Red Lion Square for a day of celebration of the ancient Spring festival of Beltane, celebrating coming out of winter and the springing of the world into growth.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

As well as their private celebrations inside the hall they were also taking part in a public procession, Pagan Pride, which goes the short distance to the fountain in Russell Square for a joyful celebration before returning to Conway Hall.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

Nature and the cyclical nature of the seasons plays a central part in pagan beliefs and Godesses and Gods linked with nature play an important role in their ceremonies.

Pagan Pride & Justice for Darfur

As I commented in 2008 nature appeared “not to be too kind to them as the rain bucketed down as the participants were supposed to gather, with only a few braver members (and some with umbrellas) coming out of the hall, but fortunately for them and the photographers it soon eased off, finally almost stopping as the parade got under way.”

That circular fountain in the garden of Russell Square “could have been designed with them in mind, with a strongly phallic character in the water jets, which in normal use rise and fall, but were left to flow at full strength for most of the ceremony.” In 2008 it was open for everyone to play in but on more recent visits I have noticed it is now surrounded by a fence.

At first the group danced around the fountain in rings with hands joined, but then many of them started to run through the centre, many getting soaked.”

Even the drummers, who at first stood on the edge providing a rhythm for the dance, eventually ran though the jets, and finally the Green Man also did so.

By the time the parade left the square for its return to Conway Hall I’d had enough, and my feet and legs were soaked.

I left with a friend to go and have a cup of tea before going to Whitehall for a very different event.

More pictures at Pagan Pride – Beltane Bash.


Justice for Darfur – London Protest; Whitehall – Sudanese Embassy

Around 200 people, mainly from the Sudan, had gathered opposite Downing Street for a noisy protest before marching to a rally at the Sudanese Embassy opposite St James’s Palace in London.

The Justice for Darfur campaign was supported by around 30 organisations including the Aegis Trust, an international organization working to prevent genocide, Amnesty International and Darfur Union UK, who organised this event together with Aegis Students.

The campaign began when the Sudanese government refused to had over two men to the International Criminal Court. Sudan’s former Minister of the Interior Ahmad Haroun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb were wanted on 51 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from persecution, rapes and murder of civilians in four West Darfur villages.

Haroun had even been promoted to be responsible for humanitarian affairs, and Kushayb, who had been in jail facing other charges when the ICC warrants were issued has been released.

In 2005 the UN Commission of Inquiry into war crimes listed 52 people for investigation and placards named some of these calling for them to be brought to justice. They included Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir, Saleh Gosh, head of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Service, Minister of the Federation Government Nafi Ali Nafi and former Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman.

Earlier that month there had been fresh reports of beatings, detentions and shooting of Darfuri civilians in Khartoum and Omdurman but little had appeared in the UK mainstream press and they had sent no photographers or reporters to the event. It was one of those protests that later one photographer told me his editor dismisses as “tribal matters“.

More pictures at Justice for Darfur.


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UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – 2013

Friday, May 24th, 2024

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel – On Friday 24th May 2013 UK campaigners met those who had arrived by Eurostar at St Pancras to march to the Mayfair hotel where UEFA was holding its annual congress. They demanded it to kick out Israel and protested against the UEFA under-21 men’s football final being held in Israel in June 2013.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

The event was organised by the London-based Red Card Israeli Racism Campaign founded by members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of al-Aqsa and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods and followed protests at UEFA’s Swiss offices following a letter signed by 52 leading players deploring Israel ’s attacks on Gaza.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Previously the Red Card campaign had led protests over the detention of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak detained without charge in 2009 while travelling from Gaza to a new club on the West Bank. He lost almost half his body mass in a 3 month hunger strike and was only finally released in July 2012 after appeals from the international professional footballers association FIFPro, Eric Cantona, Frédéric Kanouté and the presidents of EUFA and FIFA, as well as others from outside football.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

Israel’s participation in international football has long been controversial, and in 1974 they were expelled from the Asian Football Confederation of which they had been a founder member when several nations refused to play against them. They became a full member of UEFA in 1994. In February 2024 UEFA turned down demands from 12 Middle East Nations to suspend Israel from international competitions.

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel

International football is clearly a political football. And Israel’s team have clearly demonstrated their intention to use it as such when captain Eli Dasa held up a small sports shoe of a missing child hostage and talked about it ahead of a Euro 2024 qualifier against Switzerland.

The Palestinian Football Association called in April on FIFA/UEFA to suspend Israel from international competition and are asking other FAs to join them. FIFA is carrying out a legal assessment before it makes a decision on whether to agree to Palestine’s call to suspend the Israeli federation over the war in Gaza was repeated a few days ago at FIFA’s congress in Bangkok.

PFA president Jibril Rajoub was quoted by the BBC as saying “How much more must the Palestine football family suffer for FIFA to act with the same severity and urgency as it did in other cases?” and others have also accused FIFA and UEFA of double standards.

As a petition by some football fans calling on the English FA to support the suspension of Israel states: “It took FIFA/UEFA less than one week to ban Russia from international competition following the invasion of Ukraine. Apartheid South Africa was suspended from FIFA for ten years before being expelled in 1976 and was only permitted to re-join in 1992 as the apartheid regime was dismantling. In that same year, the Yugoslavia national team was suspended by FIFA from international competition as a part of UN-led sanctions against the former state during the Balkans war.

Palestinian footballer and former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak

You can read an account of the May 2013 march and the static protest outside the hotel in Park Lane on My London Diary with many more pictures. One of the speakers at this was former hunger striker Mahmoud Sarsak and he received a huge welcome and “the couple of hundred people present really sounded like a rather larger football crowd.”

UEFA gets a Red Card for Israel.


Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!

Also on Friday 24th May 2013 I photographed a protest by Sikhs at the Indian High Commission against the intended hanging of Professor Devender Pal Singh Bhullar who had then served 18 years on death row following his conviction for involvement in a car bomb in Delhi. His conviction was based on a confession based on torture in police custody. The Indian Supreme Court commuted his sentence to life imprisonment in March 2014. More on My London Dairy at Don’t hang Prof Bhullar!.


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End The Torture 2004

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024

Pictures from the End The Torture – Bring The Troops Home Now protest 20 years ago today on 22nd May 2004.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

Back in May 2004 I was still taking pictures using the Nikon D100, the DSLR camera that really first made professional quality digital imaging available outside of highly paid professional photographers. I’d bought this 6.1Mp camera in 2002, but for the first year or more used it in tandem with film cameras, not least because at first I only had one Nikon-fitting lens, a 24-85mm, equivalent on the camera’s DX-format sensor to 36-128mm on full frame.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

With film cameras I’d been used to a much wider range of focal lengths, from 15mm to 200mm and while I could do without the longer end, I still needed film for wider images. But by May 2004 I had some new lenses, a Sigma 12-24mm (18-36mm eqiv) and a Nikon telephoto zoom that stretched out to 210mm, equivalent at the long end to 315mm.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

Both were fairly large and fairly heavy lenses, but together with the 24-85mm gave me a full range of focal lengths. Though with only a single D100 body I probably spent almost as much time changing lenses as taking pictures. None of them would have impressed the kind of photographers who like to spend their time photographing test charts or pixel peeping, but they were certainly adequate for normal photographic work.

End The Torture - Bring The Troops Home Now

The pictures from the Bring The Troops Home protest on 22nd May 2004 show I was determined to use the entire range of my new lenses, perhaps not always entirely appropriately. I think sometimes I zoomed out too far with the telephoto and occasionally would have been advised to use a rather less wide view with the Sigma. But others work well.

The protest was called at short notice by the Stop the War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain to respond to the atrocities being committed in Iraq, following the publication of pictures showing abuse and torture of Iraqis by US soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Some pictures were first published by CBS in April 2004 but more came out in May.

The march organisers stated “The whole world is horrified at the terrible pictures of torture of Iraqi prisoners now emerging. They are the tip of an iceberg of abuse – dozens of civilians have died in custody of British and American troops in occupied Iraq. We are demanding the withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and for the Iraqi people to be allowed to govern themselves.”

At the rally there was an impressive array of speakers including Tonny Benn, Ken Livingstone, George Galloway, Lindsay German, Bruce Kent, Jeremy Corbyn, Jean Lambert and others from peace and Muslim movements and I photographed most of them on the march and as they spoke.

In Trafalgar Square the speakers were as usual on the raised area at the base of the column with a press area in front of that, and we are always looking up at the speakers. The longer lens let me get tightly framed head shots, but a few are perhaps too tight.

As well as speakers there were also theatrical reenactments of prisoner abuse by the ‘Theatre of War’ group with the march pausing briefly at various points for the three military personnel to abuse their roped and hooded victims. The also stood and performed on the plinth at the rally in Trafalgar Square.

Looking back at these pictures now I feel that perhaps because I had that long lens I concentrated more on the celebrities taking part in the event, and rather less than I would now on the bulk of protesters and their placards and banners. But I’m still pleased with a number of the images I made. Some I think could be improved by going back to the RAW files and reprocessing them in our now improved software to give them a little more contrast and clarity.

My London Diary has a little more about the protest and a much larger selection of the images I made at this event beginning some way down the May 2004 page. You can go directly to the pictures at END THE TORTURE – BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW.


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Free Palestine March & Rally 2005

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

Free Palestine March & Rally – May 21st 2005. George Galloway, then MP for Bethnal Green, was clearly the man of the hour at the rally in Trafalgar Square, fresh back from his hearing in front of a US Senate committee. As I commented in 2005, “the senators were clearly outclassed and outgunned as Galloway gave them a verbal ‘Glasgow kiss.’ It was an impressively sustained performance of concentrated power, a pit-bull seeing off a pack of ineffectual spaniels.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

The crowd gave him “a tumultous ovation when he arrived at the Trafalgar Square rally” at the end of the march, and his speech there did not diappoint them. I commented “he has built up a great rapport with the many muslims now living in this country, not least in his own Bethnal Green constituency, the youths from Bradford were excited when he promised to come and visit their city.” Of course many things have happened since then, but it wasn’t surprising to see him elected for Bradford West at the 2012 by-election or more recently when he won the seat at Rochdale this February.

Free Palestine March & Rally

Galloway was not the only powerful speaker at the rally, with putting in his usual performance as “probably the best living political speaker at least using the english language” and Jeremy Corbyn, still a much underrated speaker, also showing what he could do. And there were others too, including Paul Mackney of the higher education teachers’ union, NATFHE.

Free Palestine March & Rally

The march from Embankment to Trafalgar Square had been reasonably large but not huge, though more had arrived for the rally. Waiting at the side of the march as it reached the square was human rights activist Peter Tatchell with a group from Outrage!

Free Palestine March & Rally

They supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, but demanded an end to the “so-called ‘honour’ killing of Palestinian women, and the arrest, jailing, torture and murder of lesbian and gay Palestinians by factions of the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.”

Free Palestine March & Rally

At first police stopped the group from getting to the march and handing out leaflets, but after a complaint by Tatchell they were allow to do so. Some march stewards tried to stop people taking the leaflets, but many did so and expressed their support.

You can read more about the event on the second May page on My London Diary under the heading George’s Triumph and the pictures begin at the right of this page.


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Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka – 2013

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka: On Saturday 18th May 2013 I began work outside Parliament at a protest against Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, then went across the Thames to the Festival Hall for the start of a march to defend the NHS before going the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square for a ‘murder scene’ in solidarity with hunger strikers at Guantánamo. There I also photographed a woman protesting for the release of her husband arrested 9 years ago by US forces in Iraq. Finally I met a march by several thousands of Tamils calling for and end to the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka. You will find much more detail (and many more pictures) on each of these protests at links below to My London Diary.


End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

65 years after 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes as refugees in the ‘Nakba’ (catastrophe) when Israel was created, Palestinians call for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing and a boycott and sanctions until Israel complies with international law.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Several hundred people came to the protest, including a group of extreme orthodox Neturei Karta Jews who see themselves as guardians of the true Jewish faith, and reject Zionism, as well as many of Jewish or Palestinian origin. As well as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign the protest was also supported by many other groups – a long list on My London Diary – and speeches were continuing when I left for another event.

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

More about the Nakba and the protest at End Israeli Ethnic Cleansing.


London Marches to Defend NHS – South Bank to Whitehall

Nakba, NHS, Guantánamo, Sri Lanka

Thousands had gathered by the Festival Hall to march against cuts, closures and privatisation of the NHS, including many groups opposed to hospital closures around London, trade unionists and others concerned the the government is ending the NHS.

An unprecedented coalition of Londoners, including medical staff, trade unions, health campaigners, patients and others have been alarmed at what they see as an attack by the government on the principles that underlie our National Health Service and the threats of closure of Accident and Emergency facilities, maternity units and hospital wards which seem certain to lead to our health system being unable to cope with demand – and many lives put at risk.

You can read more about the crisis in the NHS in 2013 in the post on My London Diary, but of course this has continued and is still making the news. Despite their protestations it seems clear that the Tories are trying hard to run down the NHS so that the population lose its trust and love for our universal free public – and would allow them to eventually replace it with US-style insurance based healthcare which would greatly increase costs and generate huge profits for private health companies.

I went with the march across Waterloo Bridge and down Strand to Charing Cross, leaving it as it was waiting to enter Whitehall for a rally there.

More information and pictures at London Marches to Defend NHS.


Guantánamo Murder Scene – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

London Guantánamo Campaign staged a ‘murder scene’ at the US Embassy on the 101st day of the Guantánamo Hunger Strike in which over 100 of the 166 still held there are taking part, with many including Shaker Aamer now being forcibly fed.

As I arrived there were 8 black-hooded ‘prisoners’ in orange suits lying on the pavement, the number of prisoners who have died there in suspicious circumstances who had previously taken part in sustained hunger strikes. At least seven of them had the cause of death reported as ‘suicide’.

Other protesters drew lines around the bodies on the ground and surrounded the area with ‘Crime Scene – Do Not Enter‘ incident tape. The bodies then stood up and there was a short enactment of forced feeding by a man wearing an Obama mask.

Others held placards and posters, some including quotations from Thomas Jefferson and other historic and prominent Americans, and there were speeches about the events in Guantanamo, where British resident Shaker Aamer was still held despite having been cleared for release. You can read more, including a statement by one of the organisers, on My London Diary.

As I left some of the poems written in Guantánamo by Shaker Aamer were being read.

More at Guantánamo Murder Scene.


More US Embassy Protests – US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Also protesting outside the embassy as she has for a number of weekends was Narmeen Saleh Al Rubaye, born in the US and currently living in Birmingham, whose husband Shawki Ahmed Omar, an American citizen, was arrested in Iraq by American forces in 2004 and turned over to Iraqi custody in 2011. He was tortured by the Americans when held by them, and his now being tortured by the Iraqis. He is also on hunger strike. His young daughter Zeinab came and spoke briefly to the Guantanamo protesters, telling them that she wanted her daddy to be released.

Later she was joined by a small group of Muslim men and boys who stood with her.

It was a busy day for protests at at the US Embassy were a small group of supporters of Syrian President Assad, including some from the minor Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who had come to protest against western intervention in Syria.

More about these protests at More US Embassy Protests.


Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide – Hyde Park to Waterloo Place

Finally I rushed away to join thousands of British Tamils and dignitaries and politicians from India, Sri Lanka and the UK who were marching through London on the 4th anniversary of the Mullivaikkal Massacre. Many were dressed in black in memory of the continuing genocide in Sri Lanka and some wore the tiger emblem and called for a Tamil homeland – Tamil Eelam.

Tamils are disgusted at the lack of response by the UK, the Commonwealth and the world to the organised genocide that took place and is still continuing in Sri Lanka, of which the massacre at Mullivaikkal four years ago was a climax. I noted on My London Diary that I could see no other non-Tamil photographers covering the event.

On My London Diary you can read a statement by the British Tamil Forum who had organised the march. I left as the rally in Waterloo Place was about to start, partly because I was tired but also because I thought few of the speeches would be in English.

Tamils protest Sri Lankan Genocide.


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Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – 2016

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – I celebrated 14th May 2016 with a busy day of protests around London.


Reclaim Holloway

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop
Jeremy Corbyn

Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Kill the Housing Bill and the Reclaim Justice Network marched from rally on Holloway Road demanding that when Holloway prison is closed the site remains in public hands, and that the government replace the prison with council housing and the vital community services needed to prevent people being caught up in a damaging criminal justice system.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

The prison is in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency and the then Labour leader turned up on his bike to speak before the march to give his support.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

There was a long rally outside the prison with speeches by local councillors, trade unionists and campaigning groups.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

Islington Council wanted to see the site used for social housing and in 2022 gave https://www.ahmm.co.uk/projects/masterplanning/holloway/ planning permission for a development by Peabody, who bought the site in 2019 with help from the GLA, and London Square for 985 new homes. 60% of these will be affordable, including 415 for social rent, together with a 1.4-acre public park, a Women’s Building, and new commercial spaces.

Reclaim Holloway


68th Anniversary Nabka Day – Oxford St

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

A rolling protest outside shops which support the Israeli state made its way along Oxford St from Marks and Spencers, with speakers detailing the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and opposing attempts to criminalise and censor the anti-Zionist boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

It came on the day before Nabka Day, the anniversary of the ‘day of the catastrophe’ which commemorates when around 80% of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949, and later prevented by Israeli law from returning to their homes, or claiming their property.

The protesters included both Palestinians and Jews opposed to the continuing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. They were met by a small group of people holding Israeli flags who stood in their way and shouted insults, accusing them of anti-Semitism.

The organisers were clear that the protest was not anti-Semitic but against Zionism and some actions of the Israeli government. Both police and protesters tried hard to avoid confrontation with those who had clearly come to disrupt and provoke.

Many UK businesses play an important part in supporting the Israeli government by selling Israeli goods and those produced in the occupied territories and in other ways, and their were brief speeches as the protest halted outside some of them detailing some of these links.

More on My London Diary at 68th Anniversary Nabka Day.

This Saturday, 18th May 2024, you can join the march in London, starting at the BBC on the 76th anniversary of the Nabka calling for an end to the current genocide in Gaza.


Vegan Earthlings Masked Video Protest – Trafalgar Square

Vegans in white masks from London Vegan Actions were standing in a large circle on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, some holding laptops or tables showing a film about the mistreatment of animals in food production, bullfighting, etc. Although bright sun made the laptop screens almost impossible to see and the sound outdoors was largely inaudible the large circle of people standing in white masks did attract attention.

More pictures Vegan Earthlings masked video protest.


Refugees Welcome say protesters – Trafalgar Square

Also protesting in front of the National Gallery were a small group holding posters calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. Some held a banner with the message ‘free movement for People Not Weapons‘.

More pictures Refugees Welcome say protesters.


Topshop protest after cleaners sacked – Oxford St

After Topshop suspended two cleaners who were members of the United Voices of the World trade union for protesting for a living wage and sacked one of them protests were taking place outside their stores around the country.

The UVW were supported by others at the London protest which began outside Topshop on Oxford Street by others including trade unionists from the CAIWU and Ian Hodson, General Secretary of the BWAFU as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Class War.

A large crowd of police and extra illegal security guards wearing no ID blocked the entrance to the shop stopping both protesters and customers from entering. The several hundred protesters held up placards and banners and protested noisily but made no serious attempt to go in to the store.

A man wears a mask of Topshop owner Phillip Green

Some protesters, led by the Class War ‘Womens Death Brigade’ moved onto the road, blocking it for some minutes before the whole group of protesters marched to block the Oxford Circus junction for some minutes until a large group of police arrived and fairly gently persuade them to move.

They stopped outside John Lewis, another major store in a long-running dispute with the union as it allowed its cleaning contractor to pay its cleaners low wages, with poor conditions of service and poor management, disclaiming any responsibility for workers who keep its stores running.

The protest there was again noisy and there were some heated verbal exchanges between protesters and police, but I saw no arrests. After a few minutes the protesters marched off to continue their protest outside another Oxford Street Topshop branch close to Marble Arch.

More at Topshop protest after cleaners sacked.


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Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign – 2012

Friday, May 10th, 2024

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign – Thursday 10th May 2012 saw two rather different marches by workers taking place in London, with a large protest by police and a day of public sector strikes with trade unionists marching to a rally. I also visited the Parliament Square Peace Campaign.


Police March Against Cuts and Winsor

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

An estimated 20,000 police from all 43 forces in England & Wales marched through central London in protest at 20% cuts in police budget and proposed restructuring following the Winsor review. Other groups including Occupy and Right To Protest and others joined in call for justice in the policing of protest.

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

Police are not allowed to strike or belong to a proper trade union but can join the Police Federation, a staff association that can represent and support their interests. Although it cannot call for strike action it can organise demonstrations such as this one, attended by off-duty police and some family members.

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

It was an impressively large march, but rather dull as it marched past the Home Office, the Houses of Parliament and Downing St, most wearing black caps. The Police Federation had provided 16,000 black caps to represent the number of warranted officers expected to be lost over the next four years due to the cut in the police budget of 20-30%.

Police, Public Sector & Peace Campaign

My pictures concentrate too much on the relatively few officers from some areas who had come with placards. Most simply marched and mainly in silence. A few carried carried small posters with the names of officers who had been unable to attend due to being at work – and there were some police who were policing the police protest, on rather better behaviour than at some other protests.

Some people also came to protest against the police, with the Space Hijackers setting up a ‘professional protest stall‘ at the side of the march offering advice on making placards and chanting. Most of the police marchers were amused by their chants such as ‘One Solution – Institution’ and some of the mock placards, although there were a few jeers.

Those Police policing the protest were less amused, and threatened the Space Hijackers with arrest unless they removed one of their placards with the well-known acronym ACAB. They also stood in front to try and hide them and other protesters including those with a ‘Defend the Right to Protest’ who were shouting slogans against police violence and over deaths in custody for which there is seldom if any justice.

Some from Occupy London had come with plastic police helmets to join in the march, saying they were not against the police but called for a force that worked for the 99% rather than the 1%, or as one long-winded placard put it, “A fully, Publicly funded, democratically accountable Police force who’s aims and objectives enshrine the right to peaceful Protest in some sort of People’s Charter!”

Others taking part on the march included Ian Puddick who got intimidated, attacked and prosecuted by City of London Terrorism Police and Counter Terrorism Directorate in an operation costing millions carried out on behalf of a giant US security corporation after he discovered his wife had been having an affair with one of her bosses. He marched with a sign ‘Police Corruption‘ and unfortunately there is still a great deal of that as well as racism in forces around the country.

More on My London Diary at Police March Against Cuts and Winsor.


Public Sector Pensions Strike and March

Unite, PCS and UCU were holding a one day strike against public sector cuts in pensions, jobs and services. Many had been up in the early hours picketing at their workplaces long before I arrived in London, but there were still pickets in place when I visited Tate Britain and walked past the House of Commons on my way to a rally outside St Thomas’ Hospital on the opposite bank of the Thames.

I arrived late for the rally there and people were just getting ready to march to a larger rally at Methodist Central Hall.

Workers are incensed by increases in their pension contributions and plans to increase them further. They are also worried by the increasing state retirement age which also applies to their pensions. Now in 2024 it is 66 and will increase to 67 between 2026 and 2028. A further rise to 68 is planned and the date for that is likely to be brought forward – as the rise to 67 was.

As they marched, people were chanting “Sixty-eight – is TOO Late“. Pensioners also feel they are being cheated by the government’s decision to index them to the CPI inflation rather than the higher RPI inflation figures, which will mean them receiving some 15-20% less. Over 94% of Unite’s NHS members voted to reject the government’s proposals and take strike action today along with members from the Ministry of Defence and government departments as well as others from the PCS and UCU.

I left the marchers as they went into the rally at Central Hall and returned to photograph the police march and visit the peace camp in Parliament Square.

More pictures at Public Sector Pensions Strike and March.


4000 Days in Parliament Square

I went to talk with Barbara Tucker who was continuing the Parliament Square Peace Campaign begun by Brian Haw on the 2nd June 2001. The protest, continued by her and other supporters was about to reach a total of 4000 days of 24 hour protest in the square, with others in the group maintaining the presence on those various occasions when Brian or Barbara was arrested and held overnight.

They had then continued for almost 11 years despite constant harassment years by police, who have been pressured by politicians – as well as passing two Acts of Parliament intended to end the protest.

As I wrote in 2012:

A few hours before I arrived, police had come and spent 90 minutes “searching” the few square meters of their display in the early morning, and three days later, at 2.30am on Sunday 13 May, police and Westminster Council came and took away the two blankets that Barbara Tucker, no longer allowed to have any “structure designed solely or mainly to sleep in” by law was using to survive in the open. This was apparently one of two visits over the weekend by police and council in which they illegally removed property from the site.

4000 Days in Parliament Square.

Despite an increase in harassment as a great attempt was made to clean up the capital for the Olympics, the peace protest continued in the square for another year, with Barbara Tucker starting a hunger strike in January 2013. Eventually she became too ill to continue and the protest came to an end in May 2013.


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Croydon, Abortion & Windrush – 2018

Sunday, May 5th, 2024

Croydon, Abortion & Windrush – I began work on Saturday 5th of May with a late May Day march in Croydon, then came to Westminster where abortion rights protesters were meeting to oppose a ‘March for Life’ anti-abortion march and rally. At Downing Street there was a rally against the racist attacks by Theresa May against the Windrush generation, which later marched to continue at the Home Office, where I ended the day after photographing the anti-abortion march.


Croydon march for May Day – Saturday 5th May 2018

Although International Workers Day is celebrated internationally on May 1st, in Croydon there was a march and rally on the following Saturday.

Croydon is just 15 minutes by public transport from the centre of London, and those who were able to do so had probably joined the main London march on May Day, while others will have had to wait for the weekend to celebrate, so the march and rally on Saturday made sense.

It wasn’t a huge march, though doubtless more made their way to the rally later at Rusking House, where the speakers were to include Ted Knight, once the leader of Lambeth council and then one of the best-known Labour politicians, derided in the press of the day as ‘Red Ted’. One of the largest groups on the march was the supporters of the local Keep Our St Helier Hospital campaign fighting against proposed cuts there.

More pictures at Croydon march for May Day.


Women protest anti-abortion march – Parliament Square

Feminists in the abortion rights campaign held a rally in Parliament Square before the annual March for Life UK by pro-life anti-abortion campaigners was to arrive for their rally.

They opposed any increase of restrictions on abortion and called for an end to the harassment of women going into clinics and called for women in Northern Ireland to be given the same rights as those in the rest of the UK, as well as supporting the Irish referendum to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution dating from 1983 which effectively banned abortion in Ireland.

More pictures at Women protest anti-abortion march.


Anti-Abortion March for Life – Whitehall

I walked up Whitehall to meet the several thousand anti-abortion campaigners, mainly Catholics, marching to their rally in Parliament Square.

They argue that even at conception the fertilised egg should be awarded an equal right to life as the woman whose body it is in, and call legalised abortion the greatest violation to human rights in history.

This was the first London march by ‘March for Life UK’ who had previously held marches in Birmingham and came a few weeks an Irish vote was expected to repeal the 8th amendment and allow abortion in Ireland, and some posters and placards called for a ‘No’ vote in this.

More pictures at Anti-Abortion March for Life.


Windrush rally against Theresa May – Downing St

I remained on Whitehall to join a rally at Downing St organised by Stand Up to Racism calling for Theresa May’s racist 2014 Immigration Act to be repealed and an immediate end to the deportation and detention of Commonwealth citizens, with those already deported to be bought back to the UK.

It demanded guaranteed protection or all Commonwealth citizens and for those affected to be compensated for deportation, threats of deportation, detention, loss of housing, jobs, benefits and denial of NHS treatment and an end to the ‘hostile environment’ introduced by Theresa May.

Speakers also condemned the unusual moves by the Tories in ways that threaten the normal working of Parliament to try and keep information about the Windrush scandal secret. Aong those speaking were Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, trade unionists, and people from organisations standing up for immigrants and opposing immigration detention including Movement for Justice who brought two women who had been held in Yarl’s Wood to speak.

After the rally at Downing Street protesters marched to the Home Office for a further rally there.

More pictures on My London Diary:
Home Office: Windrush Immigration Act protest
Downing Street: Windrush rally against Theresa May


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Strangers Into Citizens – 2009

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

Strangers Into Citizens – Strangers into Citizens held a march and rally on Monday 4th May 2009 calling for long term irregular migrants living in the UK to be provided with a way to earn indefinite leave to remain here.

Strangers Into Citizens

There are thought now around 800,000 people living in the UK without a legal permit to do so. Accurate figures are impossible to find as these people obviously do not want to be recorded by the authorities.

Strangers Into Citizens

Many are working and carrying out work that others do not want to so but are essential to keep our economy running. One of the reasons why the UK is attractive to migrants is the size of our hidden economy, economic activities entirely hidden from HMRC.

Strangers Into Citizens

Almost one in ten UK citizens takes some part in this hidden economy, though for many their activities are on a small scale and often transitory. But almost half of those gain an income that if declared would put the above the current tax threshold. Some of these are people without legal residence, while there are others who have permission to be here but not to work. And of course others are just tax evaders.

Strangers Into Citizens

It would benefit the economy and those concerned to regularise their position so they could both work here legally and pay tax. There are also a significant number with qualifications which could take them out of the largely unskilled manual work that makes up much of the hidden economy and put their skills to work, profiting both themselves and the country. Having people with Maths or Engineering degrees making a poor living as cleaners (and I’ve met them) makes no sense when they could make a much greater contribution.

The UK has an ageing population and increasingly fewer of us are likely to be economically active – the ONS model suggests there will be an additional 317,000 people economically inactive in the UK by 2026 compared to 2023, and this trend seems likely to continue. We need migration to make up the gap and regularising the position for those already here would certainly help.

There are no legal routes to enter the UK to claim asylum and those who want to do so must either enter irregularly or come on tourist or other visas. The majority of migrants enter the country legally but overstay the terms of their visas, some claiming asylum, others just melting into the community. Another large group of migrants are the children born here to irregular migrants – until 1st January 1983 this automatically made you a British citizen but now this is only the case if one of your parents is British.

Over many years now we have seen an increasing ratcheting up of racist rhetoric and policies by the two major parties, each determined to outflank the other in appeasing the extreme right and playing on fear. The Tory government has increasingly introduced criminal sanctions against those who enter the country in ways it calls illegal, with all those arriving by them now being threatened with deportation to Rwanda, whether or not that country is actually a safe destination.

But the number Rwanda expects to take over a five years is only 1000, just 200 per year. In the year ending June 2023, official statistics show 52,530 irregular migrants were detected on, or shortly after, arrival to the UK on various routes, 85% of them on small boats. There are of course no figures for how many came and were not detected.

The UK currently does have a very limited partial amnesty scheme. Those who have managed to stay – legally or illegally – continuously for 20 years can apply for a visa which grants another 30 months of residence, while those with 10 continuous years of legal residence can also apply for an extension.

Many of those who I marched with on Monday 4th May 2009 from Lambeth were from London’s large Latin American community. Some were probably irregular but most will have entered the country legally as EU citizens and some have been given asylum here or be waiting for the Home Office to process their claim. The Home Office states the average time is six months, but the actual average is estimated to be somewhere between one and three years.

Others had marched from other areas of London, many starting from seven religious services in various parts of the city. The marches joined in Parliament Square to march together to Trafalgar Square where there were a large number of speeches in support of an amnesty from religious, political and trade union groups as well as representatives of various ethnic groups and migrants from a number of countries, followed by music and dancing.

More on My London Diary at Strangers Into Citizens.


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Baltimore to Brixton – Black Lives Matter! 2015

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

Baltimore to Brixton – Black Lives Matter! The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was first used on Twitter on 12th July 2013 but only became common in 2014 after the killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice in 2014, reaching a peak when it was announced nobody wold be prosecuted over the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson. According to a list published by Twitter on the tenth anniversary of the platform in 2016 #BlackLivesMatter was the third most used hashtag in those ten years, beaten by #Ferguson at number one and #LoveWins, celebrating the US Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

Of course the UK has its own cases of people, especially but not only black who have been killed by police and otherwise in custody and an annual march takes place in Whitehall on the last Saturday of October by the United Families and Friends Campaign to remembers them, with a list of over 2000 names being carried to a rally at Downing Street.

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) describes itself as “a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger to name but a few. Together we have built a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.”

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

And we have a long history of racist prosecutions, most notably perhaps the trial of the Mangrove Nine in 1970. The defendants, most of whom defended themselves, were finally all acquitted on the main charge of incitement to riot with four receiving suspended sentences for less serious offences. But the judge made clear in his comments that the authorities and in particular the Metropolitan Police had been racist in their actions and in bringing the prosecution.

Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!

Since then there have been other high profile cases which have demonstrated the institutional racism of the police force – notably over their investigation of the murder of Stephen Lawrence and the police murder of Jean Charles de Menezes. In 2023 the report by Baroness Casey was only the latest to castigate them as racist, sexist and homophobic.

Activists in the UK have also responded to the police murders in USA, and on Sunday 3rd May 2015 following the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and police attacks on his funeral which led to massive protest in the USA, they protested in Brixton in solidarity and pointed out similar problems in Brixton and the UK.

It wasn’t a huge protest but was supported by a wide range of groups from Brixton and across London, including London Black Revs, Class War, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, Reclaim Brixton, Women of Colour and the All-African Women’s Group from the Global Women’s Strike, Brixton Latin American Community, Mexica Movement London Chapter, Our Brixton, Latin Brixton, Justice for Christopher Alder, BirminghamStrong, Justice 4 ALL, The Brick Lane Debates, Occupy UAL, RCG, Revolutionary Communist Group, Occupy London, Rojava Solidarity Working Group, Algeria Solidarity Campaign, Environmental Justice North Africa and Justice4Paps.

On My London Diary I give some brief facts about the killing of 25-year-old African American Freddie Gray and the attack on his funeral by police which provoked riots. You can read a much more detailed account on Wikipedia.

The march began by going through the large barrier bloc of Southwyck House, built in the 1970s as a shield for the urban motorway, plans for which were dropped after the devastation it would cause became obvious after the Westway section was built in North Kensington, stopping for a brief protest there before it continued to a housing occupation against Guinness Trust opposite the Loughborough Park Estate. It then through the centre of Brixton to a rally in Windrush Square.

People then marched along Brixton Road past the Underground Station to Brixton Police Station and on to the Loughborough Estate to a community centre on Somerleyton Road.

I’d walked far enough and left the march there, walking back along Atlantic Road where I photographed some of the murals against the eviction of local shopkeepers from the railway arches before taking the tube to Westminster to go to visit the Occupy ‘Festival of Democracy‘ in Parliament Square, then in Day 3.

More pictures at Baltimore to Brixton – Black Lives Matter!


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