Posts Tagged ‘protest’

Strength in Grief

Sunday, April 5th, 2020

With so much bad news around I hesitate to write about a funeral, but in October Extinction Rebellion held their ‘Strength in Grief’ rally at Marble Arch to express their profound grief at the extinction of species taking place due to global warming and which threatens the future of human life, and followed this with a funeral procession along Oxford St.

We are now facing another great threat to human life, one we are all personally threatened with, and many of us are at particular risk from, some because they are having to work closely with people suffering from coronavirus, others because they are particularly likely to die should they catch it. As someone in the high risk category, though not with governmental ‘extremely vulnerable’ status I’m worried and also isolating myself as much as possible.

The XR rally and march took place on the anniversary of Colombus landing in South America, truly a black day for the population of that continent, bringing disease and exploitation. While some celebrate Columbus Day, for many others the 31st October is the Day of Indigenous Resistance, and a number of the speakers reminded us of this. Climate Change has already killed many in the Global South.

While in the UK the lack of preparation has been a matter of government policy, part of their programme to run down and sell off the NHS through the back door to private health companies and their more general cuts to public services and local authority spending, for many countries it is impoverishment through centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism that has left them unable to cope with the current pandemic.

The UK is one of the world’s richest nations – thanks in large part to our imperial past which fed our economy and fertilised the inventiveness of which we can still be proud. I grew up in the immediate post-war period when the experience of the war had led to the realisation that we had to work together as a society. From that came secondary education for all, the NHS and the whole welfare state. I hope COVID-19 will have the same galvanising effect as we can’t afford to go back to ‘business as usual’. The world needs to wake up and ‘Face Up to the Problem’. I hope I’ll still be around to see it starting to happen; at least I’ve not yet had a letter from my doctor with a DNR form, though it could still come.

More pictures at XR Strength in Grief Procession.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


Trafalgar Square protests

Saturday, April 4th, 2020
Ian Hodson, BFAWU President

Back on Saturday 12th October there were two protests taking place in Trafalgar Square and it was raining. One was by trade unionists supporting Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikers, and there was a powerful speech from Ian Hodson, National President of the Baker’s Union BFAWU.  His union is one of the older and smaller unions in the TUC, founded in 1847 in Manchester though it has changed its name a couple of times.

The BFAWU is a union that still fights actively for its members and isn’t afraid to take on large organisations, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC in its campaign to unionise and improve pay and conditions for fast food workers.

The rain came on rather more heavily, and I kept my cameras in my camera bag or under my coat, and took rather fewer pictures than I would otherwise. Working in wet conditions is still rather a pain, even though some cameras and some lenses are ‘weatherproof’ this doesn’t really keep them going in the rain.

The 3million organisation representing the three million EU citizens who were living in the UK had come prepared, wearing blue and yellow plastic rain capes with a sticker on them also in the colours of the EU flag and the message ‘I am not a bargaining chip’.

They had come to protest at the broken promise made by the Vote Leave campaign, which had clearly stated that EU Citizens currently living in the UK would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK” in the event of Brexit. Instead we have a complex scheme of applications, with many who have applied for leave to remain having their applications rejected. Some who have lived here for over 50 years, and have children who are UK citizens may face deportation.

Together they tore up copies of the promise, though the light had dropped and the pictures I took on a longer lens were rather blurred by their motion – I hadn’t got my camera set to a high enough ISO.

I still can’t decide which is the best way to work with my digital cameras when lighting conditions are likely to change. The different cameras I use – and on this occasion it was an Olympus OMD M5 II and a Fuji XT-1 – have slightly differing implementation of auto-ISO, which would seem to be a good answer, but in practice can mean that you are too often working at full aperture.

Probably the answer is to work in manual mode, setting both aperture and shutter speed when using auto-ISO, but it is then very easy to find that either you have reached your maximum ISO set and the camera then underexposes everything, or, even worse, you are at the minimum ISO in your range and all your images are overexposed with burnt out highlights.

More on both protests:

Brexit unfair for EU citizens
Trade Unionists join the Rebellion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


On the Third Day

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

The rather tense stand-off between police and Extinction Rebellion protesters who were still blocking much of Westminster continued, with the police at times adopting rather rougher tactics, including the deliberate destruction of tents and other property as well as making arrests.

XR’s protest continued to be rather remarkable, with street performers, music and mimes including Charlie X as well as XR’s red and green robed troupes.

People were still determined to continue their protest and it was clear that the police were coming under increasing political pressure to end them, though quite a few officers seemed rather unhappy at what they were being ordered to do.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had attacked the protesters, insulting them as ‘crusties’ but was still failing to take any action. XR’s demands remain, calling for the government tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency, act to halt biodiversity loss, reduced emissions to net zero and create and be led by a Citizens Assembly.

There were many arrests during the day, with XR’s non-violent approach being maintained, and police succeeded in clearing some of the areas.

Extinction Rebellion Day 3


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


Lawyers Protest

Friday, March 27th, 2020

Extinction Rebellion’s October protest continued on its third day with a protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand.

It was in some ways an unusual protest, involving a number of figures from the legal world, solicitors, barristers and others, including Richard Lord QC and international climate lawyer and diplomat Farhana Yamin, as well as leading figures in XR, including Gail Bradbrook and Lawyers for XR founders Natalie Barbosa and Paul Powlesland.

Lawyers for XR is one of a number of special interest groups within the organisation, and its formation was inspired by the example of medical workers who had formed their own group.

The lawyers had come up with their own ‘Lawyers’ Declaration of Rebellion’ and copies of this, wrapped in the traditional pink ribbon for briefs were handed around, giving the protest its own look.

Lawyers have of course played an important role in the fight to save the planet, and among those remembered at this event were Scottish barrister Polly Higgins who died in April 2019 and had led a long campaign calling for a criminal law of ecocide to impose a legal duty on governments to protect the public from dangerous industrial practices. 

More pictures at All Rise For Climate Justice.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


Stirling (or Sterling?) Prize

Thursday, March 26th, 2020
ASH mocks the champagne celebration inside with Cava on the street

I was pleased to get this picture of what was a very difficult event for me to get any worthwhile photographs. I’m a great admirer of the work of Architects for Social Housing, a small group that punches well above its weight in pointing out the crimes, profiteering and failures of current housing policies pursued by local authorities and national government which amount to an attack on the poor.

A poster from a Class War supporter

Their detailed studies have laid bare the terrible effects of demolition of council estates, driving those on low incomes out of the central areas of London in a huge exercise of social cleansing and making excessive profits for the developers, as well as providing well-paid jobs for some council staff and ex-staff. Most of those London councils are Labour councils, including Southwark, Lambeth and Newham, though Tory councils are following similar shameful practices, and at the root of all this are the housing policies of Thatcher and New Labour.

A man holding his Stirling Prize invite stops to photograph the protest

Their reports have shown the financial incentives that result in demolition and new build schemes with little or no low rent social housing replacing large numbers of council homes, as well as the hugely damaging environmental consequences of such large schemes. Their detailed alternative development plans have shown how estates could be renovated and the number of housing units greatly increased without the huge social costs of destroying existing communities and retaining existing low cost housing, without the need to evict existing tenants and leaseholders.

Following the disaster of the Grenfell fire, they published a report within weeks that clearly identified the problems which had made it inevitable. ASH called for those responsible to be brought to justice, pointing out that similar disasters in other countries such as Japan had led to prosecutions within a few weeks – while we have an inquiry that is still proceeding which seems to have as its major aim the deflection of blame from those responsible for the defects and failures to the actions of the emergency services on the night of the fire. It’s right of course that these should be examined and lessons learnt, but it wasn’t the Fire Service which created a fire trap through cost-cutting , avoidance of proper fire safety measures and a sheer disregard for the safety of the people who lived in Grenfell.

Oliver Wainwright, the Guardian’s architecture and design critic speaks before going into the prize event

ASH were protesting outside the highly prestigious Stirling Awards ceremony condemning architects for social cleansing, council estate demolition and housing privatisation and calling on architects to end wanton environmentally disastrous demolitions and to serve the needs of citizens with socially beneficial, financially viable and environmentally sustainable architecture rather than corporate profits. You can read more on their web site.

In particular they had come to point out that the winning entry, widely lauded in the press as marking a new era in social housing, is actually a  a commercial venture owned by Norwich council and will not be offering secure council tenancies and that council homes were demolished to build it. They were particularly incensed that it was also nominated for (and won) the new Neave Brown Award, set up to honour the recently deceased champion and architect of council housing; they see this as an insult to the memory of our great architect of council housing.

A woman came to shout at Simon Elmer and pushed him

ASH’s approach represents a threat to many architects who rely on the highly lucrative projects of major developers (named for Sir James Stirling (1926-92) whose 1977 major public housing scheme in Runcorn was demolished only 15 years after it was built, it should perhaps be better re-named as the ‘Sterling’ prize) and the protest was not well received by many of them – with one woman going as far as coming to assault Simon Elmer of ASH. But there were also some largely younger architects who expressed support.

It was a small protest and started rather late, when many had already gone inside to enjoy the ‘free’ champagne their very expensive tickets provided. The light was falling fast and it was hard to find an angle which worked to connect the protest and the event. I was pleased when the protesters decided to mock the champagne celebrations inside with a few plastic cups of cheap Cava (and I was holding cup of it myself when I took the picture at the top of this post. I left as it got too dark to photograph without flash, though perhaps I should have stayed, as more people arrived and the protest apparently got livelier later. But I’d been on my feet far too long and needed to get home and eat.

More at Stirling Prize for Architecture


Rebellion continues

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

The second day of Extinction Rebellion’s shutdown of Westminster was in some respects a disturbing one for those of us who believe in civil liberties and the rule of law, with the police moving in at times like a group of thugs and deliberately destroying the property of the protesters.

XR have a dedication to non-violence and made no attempt to stop the police or to resist the arrests that took place, and the use of force seemed quite uncalled for. Of course large scale acts of civil disobedience do cause inconvenience and annoyance to others, but the response of a civilised society should be to try and resolve the issues rather than to attack the protesters.

Those who break laws can and in the case of XR do expect to be arrested but should not be assaulted and too many arrests that I saw seemed to involve an unnecessary use of violence and deliberate infliction of pain.

One new banner read ‘CLIMATE STRUGGLE = CLASS STRUGGLE’ and it is perhaps hard not to see the police as a force being used by the small group of those who are rich and powerful to protect their own narrow interests at the expense of the rest of the people. Their more vigorous response on this second day of protest can only have been a result of considerable political pressure on them to subdue the protests. They clearly came not to keep the peace but to try and win a battle.

As you can see from my pictures, the protests were still continuing at various sites around Westminster and the general atmosphere was something of a festival. But a festival with a great deal of commitment by people desperate that our government take effective action against the most serious problem faced by the country and the world. We are just beginning to see a government forced into taking belated action against the threat posed by COVID-19, but we need a similar level of action against climate change that otherwise will be even more catastrophic.

‘Everything Will Change’ whether we like it or not, but we have a choice to make changes which may avert the extinction of our species. But our government continues to fiddle while the planet burns.

More at Extinction Rebellion continues.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


XR Westminster

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

I don’t know who these two men were, striding purposefully with their document cases but I think they had emerged from a government ministry and they were probably making their way to another or possibly the Tory party HQ. It’s possibly quite unfair, but to me they seemed to epitomise the reason why we are in the situation we are in, a determination to carry on ‘business as usual‘ when it is quite clear that to survive we need drastic system change. We can’t trust men in suits.

XR were protesting across Westminster, and it was hard to keep up with what was happening at I think eleven locations, but I did quite a lot of walking around and taking pictures, with a pretty total shutdown of all the roads in the area. Police made movement a little more difficult by setting up some road blocks of their own, which seemed totally pointless but made my job more difficult when they wouldn’t even let me walk across Lambeth Bridge although I showed my press card.

They seemed also to be making the very occasional and almost totally random arrests, picking on small groups or individuals when hundreds were blocking roads. It seemed a simply pique at being unable to control the situation of mass peaceful civil disobedience.

Although it was taking place in London, the XR protest was not a London protest, with the huge bulk of the protesters having come into the city from small towns across the country. XR has been very successful at motivating a largely white mainly middle class and highly educated population but rather less so with the urban working class, and there were far fewer from London’s ethnic communities than at most London protests, and who are well represented in movements such as the Youth Climate Strike and of course anti-racist and anti-fascist protests.

It will of course be the poor and those who have to struggle most to make a living in our cities who will be the first to suffer as the effects of global heating kick in, just as it is the countries of the majority world who are now feeling it most severely. But perhaps it is hard to persuade people who are living in precarious situations of the efficacy of the kind of apolitical and non-violent approach that appeals to XR supporters.

More at Extinction Rebellion occupy Westminster.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


HS2

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Lord Adonis has a lot to answer for, a rival to Failing Grayling who also served as Secretary of State for Transport – from 2016 to 2019. Adonis regards himself as “the architect of HS2” and published the original plan around ten years ago during the then new Labour government. It is down to him that we have the pigs ear which is HS2 rather than a modern railway that would be a great asset to our infrastructure.

Some protesters came with trees

HS2 as presently planned is crazy. It doesn’t connect with HS1, so we will eventually need to build a new connection there. It doesn’t run into Birmingham New Street, and the time saved by the faster transit into Curzon St will be lost for passengers requiring onward services there. And while the high-speed trains will be able to continue their journeys on existing track further north, they will actually be slower on these than the existing tilting stock.

One campaigner was dressed as a tree

There were alternative routes that would have worked better and certainly been more friendly to the environment, but these were dismissed under Adonis apparently without proper investigation. And it would have been better to have started by sorting out existing northern routes where the need is greater. We already have two working routes to Birmingham from London, from either Euston or Marylebone.

London-Birmingham is really too short a trip for the huge cost of a high-speed 300km/h connection to be worthwhile, they saving in time been too short. Currently the fastest services make the journey in 1 hr 22 mins, and that time could almost certainly be shortened by relatively small changes in to the existing route and signalling. The distance is 161km and the current average speed of the fastest services is only 118 km/h, using trains capable of over 200km/h.

Chris Packham gave me 3 acorns to plant but we have too many trees in our garden already

The protest at Euston led by Chris Packham and The Woodland Trust was over the environmental damage being caused by destruction of ancient woodlands on its route, taking place at a time when the whole HS2 project was still in doubt and was precipitated by the imminent destruction of South Cubbington Wood, due to be destroyed on 9th October. This is one of 30 classified ancient woodlands among a total of 108 woods to be wholly or partly lost to HS2. And the felling was put on hold.

Since then, the project has been given the go-ahead by Boris Johnson and is likely to be too far advanced by the time we get a new government to make some sensible changes. But I have a horrible feeling it may just end up as a huge white elephant.

More on the protest: HS2 threatens ancient Woodland


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


WeWork doesn’t pay

Thursday, March 5th, 2020

I’d never heard of WeWork before I received an Facebook post inviting me to photograph a protest outside one of their London premises in Shoreditch. The company began in 2010, has its HQ in New York and provides flexible working spaces for companies from 1 to 500 people, equipped, serviced and ready to move in. In London alone it has 49 locations providing shared facilities.

When we started WeWork in 2010, we wanted to build more than beautiful, shared office spaces. We wanted to build a community. A place you join as an individual, ‘me’, but where you become part of a greater ‘we’. A place where we’re redefining success measured by personal fulfillment, not just the bottom line. Community is our catalyst.

But community doesn’t extend to all that work there, and in particular not to the cleaners who keep these shared office and community spaces beautiful. WeWork outsource their cleaning to cleaning company CCM.

Outsourcing is always a bad deal for workers. The companies bid for contracts almost entirely on price, and they pare down prices by screwing the workers. Low pay, high workloads, the legal minimum terms and conditions and often a lack of equipment and concern over safety combined with bullying management enable outsourcing companies to keep costs to the bone and profits to the company owners.

Trade unions are anathema to such companies, and also to many US based firms, and grass roots unions such as CAIWU who manage the difficult job of unionising marginal and often immigrant workers find it hard to get basic rights for their members. Workers who stand up for their rights get victimised, and CAIWU were protesting here as five CAIWU members have been dismissed here in the past few months, with Wework staff members involved in getting CCM to dismiss them.

The loud protest outside the offices attracted a great deal of attention, with one local business owner coming to ask them to keep quiet and one man stopping to argue with the protesters, getting quite angry and pushing some of them. But these were the exceptions and many others read the fliers that the protesters were handing out and expressed support, including one team of workers who came out from the building and join the protest.

More at: Wework stop victimising cleaners


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.


XR Youth International

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

I had hurried back to central London to photograph an event in Trafalgar Square by Extinction Rebellion Youth International  but I had no idea what they intended to do, and I walked a couple of times around the square and saw no sign of them.

It isn’t unusual to find an event that has been posted on the Internet but doesn’t actually take place. People sometimes have an idea, set up an event on Facebook or some other listing site, then either forget about it or give up when they have failed to persuade anyone else to join them and don’t bother to post that it isn’t happening. And sometimes dates or times or locations are changed and unless you check you will be at the wrong place or at the wrong time. And some organisations can be relied on almost always to turn up late.

So I’d more or less given up on XR Youth and was thinking about photographing a couple of other things I’d seen on my way to the square when I saw a group walking into the middle of the square, some of them holding posters and I walked across and began taking pictures

They formed a large circle in the centre of the square and then sat down in silence facing outwards. And that appeared to be it, though someone did at some point make a short statement. I walked around the circle and took pictures. Some had face paint, quite a few had small XR symbols on their clothes or faces and one held up an XR flag. It seemed a very low-key protest and certainly attracted relatively little attention from the tourists who were wandering around.

There was a certain element of defiance in it. The bylaws actually prohibit protests in Trafalgar Square unless they have prior permission, but this one apparently went unnoticed by the ‘Heritage Wardens’ whose role is to enforce the regulations. They probably thought it was just another group of tourists sitting down to eat their sandwiches. Perhaps their photographs and mine, published on the web, are more important in gaining attention than the event itself.

As a static protest it would not have been illegal on the North Terrace up the steps in front of the National Gallery, which is still legally a part of the public highway, though a part that has now been pedestrianised for some years.

But rather curiously the rest of the square is the property of the Greater London authority, with bylaws set by the Mayor of London. It’s actually an offence to take photographs there, though tourists are seldom if ever prevented from doing so. And an outcry by my union and other bodies representing news photographers means that those of us with Press cards are allowed to use our cameras.

More at XR Youth International.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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.