Posts Tagged ‘Oxford Circus’

Police surround Berta Cáceres

Monday, April 19th, 2021

The pink yacht that Extinction Rebellion had brought to Oxford Circus was named after Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres. On March 7th 2016 year I had photographed a vigil in her memory outside the Honduran Embassy in London. The leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (COPINH) who had been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work against the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project in Río Blanco, funded by the World Bank and the Dutch government, she was murdered in her home on March 3. She had previously received death threats from the Honduran National Police.

The Met didn’t actually arrest the pink yacht, which had been at the centre of the circus since Monday, but on Friday 19th April 2019 surrounded it and arrested any of those who had been protecting it in the centre of the road junction who refused to move away, including a number who had been locked on to the boat.

A larger police cordon surrounded the whole of the road junction, and people inside it were instructed to leave or face arrest. XR’s ‘Red Rebel Brigade’ made their way around the outside of this cordon, while others sang and danced inside.

The numbers inside slowly fell as police allowed people to leave but stopped anyone – including a man who told them he was the owner of the yacht – from entering. He made an effort to persuade the crowd to break the cordon, but was held back by friends and the crowd followed the XR principle of non-violence against the police and sat still, watching as the police made arrests or slow drifting away to Marble Arch or other areas still occupied by protesters.

Slowly and deliberately the police cleared the protesters, carrying away many to the waiting police vans. I stayed for several hours taking pictures before deciding it was time to leave.

Earlier that day I had been at the Oxford Circus ‘Sea of Protest’ for the start of the day’s activities to show ‘Love For The Earth’ on the 5th day of the occupation, and had photographed Dame Emma Thompson arriving and speaking at the event.

She received a warm welcome from Extinction Rebellion supporters but some snide comments from the press about having come from the USA by plane to speak at the event. She could hardly have swum and although I’d rather we had a system that didn’t worship celebrities, given the world as it is, I welcome them using their fame to support the fight against global extinction and other essential causes.

I left a few minutes after she had finished speaking and was still being besieged by photographers and journalists, answering their questions from the deck of Berta Cáceres. There had been another event I’d wanted to photograph scheduled for Trafalgar Square, but no sign of it when I arrived, so I returned to Oxford Circus. In the short time I’d been away, Emma Thompson had left and police had moved in to surround the yacht and begin the process of clearing the junction. By the evening the yacht had been towed away.

Police clear XR from Oxford Circus
Emma Thompson speaks at 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.


Extinction Rebellion and more

Thursday, April 15th, 2021

Extinction Rebellion (XR) began 11 days of protest which initially brought most of central London traffic to a halt on Monday 15th April 2019. They didn’t manage to keep up the protest until “the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency” as we have yet to see that two years later, but they did considerably raise public and media awareness about the severity of the problem the world faces.

Unfortunately there seems to be little chance that effective action will be taken in time to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2015 as they demanded, though perhaps the half-hearted measures that will come out of the delayed climate summit later this year will do just a little to slow the rate our our planet’s decline, possibly enough to see my life out, though I worry about the future of my children and despair for that of my grandsons and daughters.

XR have now very much lost the initiative, mainly I think because of internal dissensions, perhaps inevitable because of some of the rather odd characters that they attracted. But some of their ideas, particularly over the police and arrests cut them off from many on the left who attacked them as a movement funded by shady capitalists and led by wacky idealists, more a Glastonbury festival than a political movement. Much of the criticism was ill-founded but not all.

The major effect they had on our government was for them to put pressure on the police to get rid of these pesky protesters – first by more arrests and prosecutions and now by the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill to give the police greater powers to control all protests.

Early on the Monday morning, XR protesters set up camp at a number of key locations in London in a well-planned exercise. I turned up rather later to take photographs, first at Waterloo Bridge, which XR had turned into a ‘garden bridge’, blocking all traffic and bringing flowers and trees. There had been arrests earlier, but police had been unable to stop the protesters and the bridge – despite many further arrests – remained closed for over a week.

Because of the XR actions traffic all around the centre of London was at a halt, with buses not moving. Fortunately the tube was unaffected and took me to Oxford Circus, which now had a large pink yacht at its centre, named after the Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated for her activism in 2016. It was here that I met the dance troupe dressed in red that were such a visible presence in XR protests.

XR were not the only environmental game in town, and I took the Underground to St Paul’s Cathedral for a protest organised by the Green Anti-Capitalist Front, Earth Strike and London Students for Climate Justice. I arrived when there protest was due to start, but there were only a few of them present. I hung around for half an hour or so, and then gave up and left. Later I saw the accounts of their protest which did eventually attract a small crowd and was sorry I’d missed the action.

But there was rather more happening at Marble Arch, one of London’s main gyratory systems, where XR had blocked Oxford St, Park Lane, Edgware Road and a couple of other routes and had set up a stage, workshops and a tent village as well as the road blocks.

But XR had also planned an event for Parliament Square, where the roads around were blocked for a New Orleans funeral procession with jazz band to make its way around the square.

The funeral was perhaps also designed as a diversion for some more direct action, which I again missed at the Shell Centre on the South Bank. A small group of activists daubed slogans across the front of the building and two occupied the glass porch over the door. The activists had deliberately broken the glass in one of the doors, with the intention that this would result in a trial before a jury rather than by magistrates, enabling them to present the reasons for their action, and three had been arrested and taken away by the time I arrived, but the two were still up on the porch and others holding banners on the street in front.

My day had not quite finished as I made a small diversion on my way home to visit Brixton, where staff, families and children from children’s centres were protesting against plans by Lambeth Council to close five centres and make drastic cuts at seven others. The council had recently spent £68 million on refurbishing the Town Hall and building a new Civic Centre.

Save Lambeth Children’s Centres
Extinction Rebellion at Shell
Extinction Rebellion Funeral Procession
Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch
Anti-capitalist environmental action
Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus
Extinction Rebellion Garden Bridge


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.


The Spice of Life

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Perhaps the hardest thing I’ve found about the last eleven months has been the lack of variety. I’ve been fortunate to probably avoid the virus – I was quite ill early in March 2020 but my symptoms didn’t match those then thought to typify Covid-19, though they did match some of those being reported by Covid sufferers – and none of my family or close friends have died from it.

But days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen have followed days mainly spent at home in front of a computer screen relentlessly, though I have tried to get out for walks or bike rides most days. As someone of an age and medical condition that makes me vulnerable I decided not to travel up to London on public transport, although as a journalist I count as a key worker and could have done so. Apart from usually solitary exercise (occasionally a walk with my wife on Sundays) I’ve made a couple of trips out for pub meals with family or friends when these were allowed, and a few short journeys for medical and dental appointments – including most recently my first Covid vaccination.

There’s Zoom of course, and I hate it, though taking part in a few regular events. It’s a little better on my desktop computer which hasn’t got a camera, but on the notebook or tablet I find it disconcerting to see myself in close-up (and sometimes move out of frame and sit in a more comfortable chair watching the screen from a distance.) It’s perhaps more seeing the others, mainly in head and shoulders close-up that makes me uncomfortable with Zoom; in real life we would be sitting around at a sensible distance, seeing each other at full length and as a part of the overall scene, looking away when we want to at other things. Not those relentless talking or muted full-face heads.

Tuesday 24th February 2009 wasn’t a typical day, and that’s really the point. Few days then were typical. I caught the train to Waterloo and took a bus across to Aldwych, a short journey but faster than walking. A short walk then took me to the Royal Courts of Justice where protesters were supporting the application for judicial review by Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq challenging the government’s failure to fulfil its obligations with respect to Israel’s activities in Palestine.

It was Shrove Tuesday, and from the Royal Courts another bus took me on one of my favourite central London bus journey, up Fleet St and Ludgate Hill to Bank, from where I hurried to Guildhall Yard to the Worshipful Company of Poulters Pancake Races. It perhaps wasn’t one of my better attempts to photograph the event, perhaps because I tried too hard to show the actual running and tossing of pancakes.

I couldn’t stay for the finals of the pancake race but hurried down to Mansion House for the District and Circle Line to Westminster to meet postal workers as they came out of a rally at Methodist Central Hall to protest at government plans to part-privatise the postal service and then proceeded to a short protest in front of Parliament.

There was nothing in my diary for the next few hours, so I took the opportunity to jump onto the Jubilee Line to Stratford and then walk towards the Olympic site for one of my occasional reports on what was happening in the area – which I had been photographing since the 1980s.

I made my way through the Bow Back Rivers, photographing the new lock gates at City Mill Lock. The Olympic site was sealed off to the public by the ‘blue fence’ but I was able to walk along the elevated path on the Northern Outfall Sewer to take a panoramic view of the stadium under construction. It was rather a dull day and not ideal for such wide views with such a large expanse of grey sky.

I took the Central Line back to Oxford Circus for the March of the Corporate Undead, advertised as a “Zombie Shopping Spree” along Oxford Street from Oxford Circus to Marble Arch, complete with coffins, a dead ‘banker’, posters, various members of the undead and a rather good band.

I left the zombies at Marble Arch where they were hanging an effigy of a banker and hurried to my final appointment, a London Bloggers Meetup. The evening’s meeting was being sponsored by Bacardi who were supplying free drinks, including blue and green Breezers which I thought would have been rather suitable for the zombies, but fortunately there was also free beer. I probably took a few pictures, but haven’t published them.

All just a little more interesting than staring at a screen, though there was rather a lot of that to do when I finally got home.

March of the Corporate Undead
Olympic Site Report
London Olympic site pans
Keep the Post Public
Poulters Pancake Race
Al-Haq Sue UK Government


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.


Clearing the ‘Sea of Protest’

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

Police I think waited until the journalists covering Emma Thompson’s visit to the Extinction Rebellion (XR) ‘Sea of Protest’ around Berta Cáceres, the pink yacht at the centre of Oxford Circus before they closed in.

I’d left with the others, but came back 25 minutes later to find the yacht surrounded by a ring of police, with just those protesters locked on to the boat inside. And sitting on the ground around them was a large crowd of XR supporters, listening to singers and occasionally chanting slogans.

Soon more police arrived and set up a cordon around the whole of Oxford Circus, allowing people to leave but not to enter. There were some heated arguments and one protester tried to urge the crowd by now outside to push their way through the police line, but XR organisers urged them to respect the non-violent principles of Extinction Rebellion and not oppose the police physically, and no-one followed his lead.

Police came and began to persuade  those still sitting down in Oxford Circus to leave, telling them they would be arrested if they stayed, and numbers began to dwindle, although there were many who stayed, having come prepared to be arrested to make XR’s point.

As well as photographing this, I was taking pictures mainly between the legs of police officers, both the ring around the outside of the protest, particularly of the dance group dressed in red that were going around the outside of the cordon, and, through the legs of the much tighter cordon around the yacht, looking through to the protesters who were locked on.

I wasn’t sure how much of the police to include in the frame with these images, and took some with a minimal presence as in the picture above, but also wider views showing the line of police. And of course it was possible to zoom in and exclude the police altogether. But I felt it important to have both police and yacht in the image to locate it.

Eventually the specialist police team turned up to begin to release the protesters from the yacht and its undercarriage – though some were very easily removed, others needed cutting out, and it was a lengthy process. As they were removed they were arrested and rushed to waiting police vans.

Once the numbers sitting on the road had reduced to a more manageable number police began making arrests of them also, taking them away. I hung around and photographed a number of them being carried away, though it was hard to get clear pictures as there were often too many people – police, other photographers and protesters – in the way.

After I’d been there for around two and a half hours watching and photographing I decided I’d taken enough pictures and left. It was several hours later before the area was cleared and the yacht was towed away, having been there for around five days.

Many more pictures at Police clear XR from Oxford Circus.


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.


XR and Emma Thompson

Monday, August 12th, 2019

I don’t go out of my way to photograph celebrities. Often another photographer will point out someone to me and they are people I’ve never heard of, and certainly wouldn’t recognise. One of the delights of not owning a television is that it keeps your mind clear of such clutter, though it has occasionally meant I’ve missed taking pictures that would have sold well.

But of course I do have some idea of who Emma Thompson is and what she looks like, though I hadn’t known she would be arriving to speak at Oxford Circus before I got there on April 19th and a colleague shared this information. I’d gone to Oxford Circus simply to photograph the XR occupation of the area around the large pink yacht, the Berta Cáceres, and the other sites still blocked by the protests,

I saw her arrive before most of the other photographers and was able to take a few pictures before she was surrounded by a crowd of people with cameras, including one of her showing off her ‘There is no planet B’  bag.

Soon other photographers realised she had arrived, but there wasn’t room for them where I was between her and the boat, so there was a ring of photographers all pointing there lenses at her back while I was taking her picture with a member of the crew. I realised she was going to have to wait and then climb up the ladder onto the boat after the singer currently performing came down and moved to where I thought I would be best placed for more pictures – a few of which you can see on My London Diary.

Of course I moved into the crowd in front of the boat as she spoke, to take more pictures of her, but mainly of the people listening. After she had spoken to the crowd, she did speak to a couple of TV crews from the back of the boat and I did take a few more pictures, but I was more interested in the pep[;e who were surrounding the Berta Cáceres, some locked on, to protect the boat from being moved.

I then made the mistake of leaving Oxford Circus to look at something happening elsewhere, but after a brief look I came back to find that police had moved in and began the long process of clearing the road junction. More about that in a later post.

More pictures at Emma Thompson speaks at 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.


XR Sea of Protest

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Back in November 2016 I attended a vigil outside the Honduran Embassy in London for  environmental activist and indigenous leader, Berta Cáceres, assassinated either by forces of the state or by groups encouraged by the state. Before her murder she had  death threats from the Honduran National Police and judicial harassment.

Very much to my surprise, Berta Cáceres returned to London this April in the shape of a large pink yacht named in her memory which Extinction Rebellion (XR) had brought to block Oxford Circus to traffic and create a “sea of protest“.

I arrived some hours after the yacht which was by then surrounded by protesters and with various activities taking place, including an induction course for new arrivals and some music. Getting ready to perform were a group of people dressed in red, representing I was told the blood of extinct species and those – like our own – threatened by the Earth’s sixth global extinction event, now getting into full swing thanks to the efforts of the fossil fuel industry and its supporters, particularly President Trump.

I didn’t stay long on this occasion, as other things were happening elsewhere across London. XR intended to keep the roads closed until the government takes necessary action on the global climate and ecological emergency, and this particular action continued from Monday until Friday, when I returned to photograph the police taking action to clear the junction.

More at: Extinction Rebellion Sea at Oxford Circus.


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.