Posts Tagged ‘protest’

Change Makers: Ways of Protest

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
DPAC 19 Feb 2014 20140219-316_2400
Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts speaks outside ATOS offices in National Day of Protest against mishandling of Work Capability Assessments. 19 Feb 2014

I am one of the very long list of artists taking part in the show currently at the Elysium Gallery in Swansea, Change Makers: Ways of Protest.

Here is the full list from the gallery web site:

Asim Ahmed | Phoebe Beckett | Nazma Botanica | Jason & Becky | Beltalowda | Frans Van Den Boogard | Bourdon Brindille | Ben Browton | Hazel Cardew | Louise Burston | Elsa Casanova | Philip Cheater | Michael Cheung | Jonah Brucker-Cohen & Mark Ramos | Lucy Donald | Judit Csobod, Marcela Echeverki & Stephen Donnelly | Plein Le Dos | Angus Eickhoff | Camila Espinoza | Gisela Ferreira | Mark Folds | Virginie Foloppe | Dawes Gray | Amy Goldring | Emily Grimble | Carol Harrison | Vinay Hathi | Hannah Jones | Paul Jones | Julia Justo | Ken Kamara | Tim Kelly | Shona Davies, David Monaghan & Jon Klein | Bob Bicknell-Knight | Hannah Lawson | Catherine Lewis | Laura Elisabeth Levick | Peter Lewis | Peter Marshall | Alice Mason | Steph Mastoris | Celia Mora | Karl Morgan | Sarah Poland | Jota Ramos | Euros Rowlands | Fiona Roberts | Si Sapsford | David Sladeck | Ekene Stanley | Ben Steiner | John Thomson | Daniel Trivedy | Vladimir Turner | Kenechi Unachukwu | Undercurrents | Natacha Voliakovsky | Eef Veldkamp | Aisling Ward | Thais DeMelo & Pedro H.C |Dawn Woolley & Davin Watne | Caroline Wilkins | Ian Wolter | Tess Wood

Elysium gallery in partnership with Swansea Museum, Swansea County Council and Fusion presents ‘Ways of Protest’, an extensive exhibition looking at how the arts can be used as a vehicle for protest, and how activism and a desire for social change can drive individual and collective creativity.

Contemporary artworks by Welsh and International artists will be accompanied by archival artefacts from the vast Swansea Museum collection as well as memorabilia, photographs, interviews, and artworks provided by members of the public and protest groups from Swansea and Wales.

http://www.elysiumgallery.com/events/event/change-makers-ways-protest/

If you are in Swansea you can book a free time slot to see the show which continues until Saturday 23 January. New lock-down restrictions announced for Wales this week means that the show will have to close from 6pm on Friday 4th December it but it will re-open in January.

But otherwise you can find out more about the show on the Change Makers Festival Facebook Group or Instagram feed.

My contribution to the show is six A2 prints of protests in London by DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) and I accompanied my submission with this short text:

Disabled People Against Cuts

When the Tories came to power (with the Lib-Dems) in 2010 and began their savage austerity programme they turned the screw hardest on the disabled, thinking they would be an easy target. DPAC soon proved them wrong.

DPAC 8 Jan 2012 20120128-0234_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts and supporters block Oxford Circus in protest against the Welfare Reform Bill, which will penalise the poor and disabled. 28 Jan 2012
DPAC 18 Apr 2010 20120418-0421_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts chain wheelchairs to block roadway at Trafalgar Square in protest against benefit cuts and unfair fitness assessments. 18 Apr 2010
DPAC  4 Sep 2013 20130904-463_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts hang pants with messages outside the Dept of Work and Pensions at launch of UK Disabled People’s Manifesto. 4 Sep 2013
DPAC 12 May 2014 20140512-692_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts protest at the Dept of Work and Pensions against plans to end the Independent Living Fund. 12 May 2014
DPAC 2 May 2017 20170502-350_2400
Disabled People Against Cuts protest at Conservative Party HQ the day before the General Election against Tory policies which have killed and impoverished the disabled. 2 May 2017

Click on any of the pictures to go to see the group larger on Flickr.

There were several reasons for my choosing this set of pictures (there were four more in my original submission.) Foremost was my great admiration for the people in DPAC and the way they have stood up to the cuts, putting themselves on the line as these pictures attempt to show. I wanted to present something coherent rather than simply choosing my most striking images and while there were several groups and issues among the hundreds I have photographed I could have chosen, DPAC was one that stood out, and also one that I thought would have considerable public appeal. The government may have little concern about the disabled who it writes off as unproductive, but the great majority of the people have a heart.

Because the show was to be in Swansea I did briefly consider sending pictures of Class War – which had its origins in that city – as readers of Bash The Rich will know (if you’ve not read it, get your copy now.) But Class War are perhaps the Marmite of protest (and I do like Marmite.) Of course if anyone other gallery would like to invite me to show work on protest, other pictures are always available. After all I have several hundred thousand of them.


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.


November 30th 2011

Monday, November 30th, 2020

November 30th fell on a Wednesday in 2011, and it was the day of a strike by public sector workers against government plans to cut their pensions as part of the austerity programme following the banking crisis. As I wrote back then:

Feelings are certainly running very high over pension injustice, as well as over the government cuts in jobs and services. The widespread feeling across the country – not just trade unionists – that our government is made of of the wealthy and privileged who just do not understand the problems of ordinary people was reflected in the two hand-written placards I photographed, both with photographs of Cameron and Osborne alongside the texts ‘Eton Boys, Do you Feel Our Pain, As You Order Your Champagne‘ and ‘No Cuts For You, Eton Boys!!’

The day had begun early for strikers at Wandsworth Town Hall who had been on the picket line since 6am at the Town Hall and other council sites across the borough, though I only joined them around 4 hours later, when many were about to leave to join the TUC march in central London, and I also made my way to a packed Lincoln’s Inn Fields where around 20,000 were assembling.

As well as public sector workers – including many from associations which have no record of previous strike action or taking part in protests – there were activists from groups such as the Education Activist Network and other student groups, people wearing ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes ‘V for Vendetta’ masks and other supporters, including political artist Kaya Mar with his painting of coalition leader David Cameron and his Lib-Dem sidekick Nick Clegg carrying blood-stained axes.

There were also a group of French trade unionists from the CGT, come to support their English colleagues – here in a picture beside Frances O’Grady, Dep Gen Sec of the TUC and John Rimmer, president of the NASUWT.

More joined the march along the route to Westminster. It was a peaceful march which hardly merited the huge police presence, and I think the French trade unionists will have thought it very restrained, although some groups, particularly some of the students, did liven it up a little with loud chanting and the occasional surge. The rally had already begun when I arrived, although the end of the march was still almost a mile back.

I didn’t wait to hear the speeches, but went to Piccadilly Circus, where Occupy London protesters from the camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral were gathering for a protest against corporate greed. I stood with them for around half an hour while we all waited for something to happen, watched by a large crowd of police. It began with a diversion as around 30 people with the ‘Precarious Workers Brigade’ banner that I’d photographed earlier on the TUC march rushed across the road to protest outside Boots, drawing much of the police attention.

Others by Eros were getting ready the main banner ‘All Power to the 99%’ which they then rushed along the street with the rest of the protesters following, going down Haymarket, and I rushed along with them taking pictures. At Panton St, one of them lit a bright orange flare and they all turned down the street to Panton House, where some rushed into the foyer.

I stopped there to take a few pictures rather than rushing to follow them up the stairs. By the time I turned to follow them the stairs were rather crowded but I made my way up to the third or fourth landing before deciding I was out of breath and probably not going to get to the top as the stairs were too crowded. By then the police had begun to catch up, and stopped me going down. And although police were shouting and me and the others on the stairs to go down, other police were pushing us out of the way when we tried to do so as they rushed up to the roof.

Eventually I managed to make my way out and try to take a few pictures as protesters on the roof lowered banners over the edge while others outside formed a ‘human microphone’ to let everone know what the protest was about.

Occupy London had chosen Panton House as it contains the London offices of the mining Company Xstrata, whose CEO Mick Davies they say is the highest paid CEO in the UK, but according to their statement, “is a prime example of the greedy 1% lining their own pockets while denying workers pensions.”

I was sorry not to have made it to the roof as several other photographers had done, but at least I was able to slip through the police kettle and go home early after a rather tiring day.

More pictures at:

Occupy London Expose Corporate Greed
TUC Nov 30 March
Wandsworth Nov 30 Rally

London Protests: 17 November 2018

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020

Saturday November 17th 2018 saw the start of Extinction Rebellion’s beidge blocade in central London, bringing the city to a standstill by blocking Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo, Blackfriars and Southwark bridges. I joined them for the first couple of hours on Westminster Bridge.

From there I went to pay brief visits to three of the other four bridges that XR had blocked, choosing those downstream which were relatively easy to reach on foot.

I didn’t go to Lambeth Bridge, upstream from Westminster, as I ran out of time before another event I wanted to cover. It would have meant too long a walk as the nearest tube station is some distance away and there were no buses able to run. Later I found that it was at Lambeth that the police had been more active in making arrests and attempting to clear the bridge.

I arrived too late for the start of the march organised by Stand Up To Racism, co-sponsored by Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism, and supported by many other groups and individuals including Diane Abbott MP and John McDonnell MP against the against the rising threat of Islamophobia and Antisemitism by far-right groups in the UK.

It was a large march and had gathered outside the BBC in Portland Place because the organisers wanted to point to the failure of the BBC to recognise the threat of these extremist groups with a level of support for fascism not seen since the 1930s.

The BBC does appear to have a policy limiting reporting on issues such as this, and of ignoring or minimising protests in the UK against failures of government. When they have reported, they have often talked of ‘hundreds’ of protesters when a more objective view would have said ‘thousands’ or perhaps even ‘tens of thousands.’ They do a far better job in reporting protests in foreign cities than in London.

Half an hour after I began taking pictures the marchers were still walking past me, but I thought that it was nearing the end and I left, not to go to the rally in Whitehall but to return to Westminster Bridge for the Exctinction Rebellion protest where there were speakers from around the country and around the world, some of whom travelled to speak on several of the five blocked bridges. After the speeches there was a Citizen’s Assembly but by then I was tired and left to go home, edit and file my pictures – more hours of work.

Protests by XR have done a little to shake the complacency of our government and others around the world and move them to action to avoid the rapidly approaching climate disaster, but it remains a case of too little, too late. Certainly so for many countries in the global South already suffering dire consequences, but probably also for us in the wealthier countries. Covid-19 has shown that governments can take drastic actions, (if ours cost many thousands of lives by making decisions too late and avoiding basic precautions) but it will need a similar upending of priorities and changes in our way of life to avoid the worst effects of climate change – and there can be no vaccine to end climate change.

More about the events and more pictures on My London Diary:

Extinction Rebellion Bridge blockade starts
Extinction Rebellion: Southwark, Blackfriars, Waterloo
Unity Against Fascism and Racism
Extinction Rebellion form Citizens’ Assembly


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.


Yarl’s Wood November 7th 2015

Saturday, November 7th, 2020

On November 7th 2015 I went to a protest outside Yarl’s Wood organised by Movement for Justice, calling for this and all immigration detention centres to be closed down. It was a cold and wet day, but fortunately the rain eased off at times.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Home Office began moving detainees out from the Yarl’s Wood immigration centre, and all of them had gone by the middle of August. The centre which opened in 2001 had been used mainly to hold women, though there were also some families there. But the centre is not to be closed down, but is being used to house migrants who have come across the Channel. It seems likely they will be treated just as badly as the previous residents.

There was very little reason for most of those housed there over the nineteen years it was in operation to be held in a secure unit. They presented no danger to the rest of us and the centre provided none of the support that many needed, with inadequate health care, poor food and little or no counselling for the many vulnerable people who who had fled their countries because of violence against them including rape. Holding them in this fairly remote location with limited contact with the outside world made it difficult for them to prepare themselves for immigration hearings.

Some were found to have been illegally deported and many more were not given proper consideration before they were deported. But over half of those held there are simply eventually released, amny after months or even years of imprisonment – one woman was held for just a few days under 4 years. These people are not criminals but we treat them as if they were – though worse in some ways as their detention is indefinite at the the whim of the Home Office.

Yarl’s Wood had a particularly bad record, with abuse and sexual harassment and a failure to provide adequate care, highlighted both by official inspections and by undercover reporting for Channel 4 News. Many of those held inside have reported horrific stories of their mistreatment.

Yarl’s Wood is run for profit by Serco, whose CEO Robert Soames is the brother of former Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames and is a grandson of Winston Churchll and a nephew of former Defence secretary Duncan Sandys. Like many of our leading Tory politicians he studied PPE at Oxford and was a member of the Bullingdon Club. Perhaps these kind of connections help the company in getting lucrative government contracts despite their poor record on delivery.

Serco have been given the most Covid-related government contracts among UK-listed companies and despite their failures with test and trace were recently awarded another £57 million contract for it – as with the others without any competitive tendering. Shadow Cabinet Office secretary Rachel Reeves commented “This government seems obsessed with shovelling huge sums of public money to a handful of outsourcing companies without competition, rigour or accountability“. Serco’s share price shot up by 17% on news of the latest government handout and they revised their profit forecast for the year upwards to £165m.

Yarl’s Wood is on an industrial estate created on a former Second World War air base in the middle of nowhere on the top of hills a little over 5 miles north of Bedford. Around 20 coaches brought campaigners from around the country, with a shuttle service bringing some from Bedford Station and others arriving by car, taxi and bicycle. Among them were a number of Movement for Justice supporters who had previously been held in this and other detention centres. Most of the speakers at the rally were former inmates, and we also heard from some of those inside who are allowed mobile phones and held up their numbers in the windows.

The protesters are not allowed into the Business Centre and instead walk along the road and across a several fields on a public footpath to reach a field on the edge of the centre which is surrounded by a 20 foot high fence. The bottom ten feet of the fence is made of solid metal panels and the centre can only be seen through the top half which is covered with a metal mesh.

Photographing through this mesh presents some problems. Apart from partly blocking the view, my cameras autofocus systems prefer to focus on the mesh and it is generally easy to use manual focus. Standing on the small hill facing the centre gives a view of the top two floors of one wing of the centre above the solid metal fence. The windows of the centre can only be opened a few inches – just enough for those inside to wave a towel or clothing etc. And Serco staff try to keep the women inside away from the windows and in other parts of the centre, sometimes assaulting them to prevent them reaching these windows.

‘We Are From Torture We Need Freedom’

To get good views of the windows long lenses are needed, and require fast shutter speeds to avoid camera shake. I don’t really have the most suitable lenses for the job.

Many more pictures and more about the protest on My London Diary:
MfJ ‘Set Her Free’ protest at Yarl’s Wood
MFJ Meet Outside Yarl’s Wood


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.


Levitation, Police Robbery and Catalonia

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Three years ago on October 21st I spent an interesting Saturday travelling around London and photographing several quite different events – unlike last Saturday when all I did was sit at a computer and work on old pictures and take a short walk along a familiar stretch of the River Thames close to my home, taking care to avoid getting close to the other strollers.

The Catalan protest at Piccadilly Circus was colourful, with many of the several hundred present fyling or wearing flags and calling for independence. And many of the placards were in English, unlike some other protests about overseas events. While Spain seems to have managed so far to have stopped the indepenence movement by forceful policing and political trials in the longer term I think there has to be movement towards a more federal approach with much greater autonomy for the region. We are begining to see a similar trend here in the UK, where our government appears to be failing to honour the 1707 Acts of Union between England and Scotland as well as creating increasing division between Wales, Northern Ireland and Westminster, with the likely no-deal (or very limited deal) over Brexit seeming certain to lead to to a break-up of at least parts of the union.

Conveniently the Catalan march took me to Parliament Square where I could take the Circle line to Kensington and join a small group of Class War in their attempt to levitate the offices of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, responsible for the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower.

It was also a celebation of the 50th anniversary of the Yippee levitation of the Pentagon during anti-Vietnam War protests, and Class War’s Ian Bone and shaman Jimmy Kunt (aka Adam Clifford) stood on the steps of the town hall and called “Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!” to the demons of councillors Nicholas Paget-Brown, Rock Feilding-Mellen & Elizabeth Campbell in their attempted to levitate the town hall to a height of over 70 metres. Unfortunately I failed to capture a photograph of the building in mid-air.

As I reported in My London Diary:

Inspired by their success at the town hall, Class War’s Levitation Brigade then moved on to Northcliffe House, the home of the Daily Mail.

Security staff there reacted angrily to Class War calling out the demon of Paul Dacre and their attempt to raise the building by over 70 metres, perhaps fearing it might damage the Rolls-Royce parked outside, but the levitation ceremony went ahead despite considerable interference.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail

Several security staff objected to the protesters and told me that I couldn’t take pictures, although there is strong evidence that this was not the case, though I did have to move back several times when one attempted to grab my lens. But most of the time at least I was on the public highway and knew I had the right to photograph as I liked and told him so. But it was perhaps this harassment that again made me miss the moment of actual levitation – or perhaps not.

It was a rather longer journey to Kentish Town by Underground, but only around half an hour (Circle to Embankment and then the Northern line) and I arrived in good time for the protest outside Kentish Town Police Station. Police, urged on by Camden Council had been removing and stealing tents from homeless people on the nearby streets ‘in the interest of public safety‘.

A small group of protesters met outside the police station carrying tents before five of them went inside to hand themselves in for being in possession of these now illegal items, calling on the police to arrest them. The police were rather suprised and kept them waiting for an hour or so, before telling them after I had left that carrying a tent was not a crime.

Later both police and Camden Council denied they were harassing the homeless – in direct contradiction to the evidence from the street that they had done so. Perhaps this small protest meant that at least in Camden this cruel policy used in some other boroughs in London and elsewhere will no longer apply.

More at:
Stop Robbing the Homeless
Class War levitate the Daily Mail
Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall
March in Solidarity with Catalonia


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.


Rojava, Bolivia & Ecuador

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

One of the things that makes it hard to leave London is the diversity of the communities that have made their homes here, making this an exciting place. Throughout its history Britain’s population has been enriched by immigration and although immigrants have not always been made welcome they have made a very positive contribution to our society. Among them have been many religious and political refugees and asylum seekers, and many continue to support the causes in their home countries while in London.

While our media generally give little attention to protests – except for those rare occasions involving individual violent acts or anti-establishment acts such involving insults against national heroes such as the writing of graffiti on the plinth of the Churchill statue or attacking statues of slave traders, the protests by ethnic communities against events in their home countries are almost entirely dismissed as what one newsroom at least refers to as “tribal matters”.

Of course they are wrong, as well as being xenophobic. We live in a world that is increasingly interconnected and globalised, and Brexit, taking us out from under the wing of Europe will give even more importance to events happening around the rest of the world, including Rojava, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Rojava is important not just to those who live in this Kurdish-controlled part of Syria and to Kurds in general but the rest of us around the world. It was the Syrian Kurds who with US air support who were able to defeat ISIS but as a model of a democratic system dedicated to equality, the liberation of women and ecological justice that could serve to provide the system change we need to overcome climate disaster and to resolve the problems of the middle east and elsewhere.

After ISIS were defeated, Trump brought US forces out of the area, leaving it open for Turkey to advance into Syria – with the aid of Islamist forces and the aim of destroying the Kurds. Through NATO we give Turkey support and doubtless supply arms while Russia, backing President Assad are happy to see Syrians who don’t support him exterminated. The Turks have huge superiority in weapons and seem very likely to acheive their aims, but are then likely to establish an Islamic state in the area rather than withdraw back to Turkish territory and we could well then see a war between Russia and NATO forces.

If you rely on the BBC for your news you will know probably know very little about what is going on in northern Syria and the protesters, mainly Kurds but with some support from the British left, gathered outside Broadcasting House a year ago today on Sunday October 13th 2019 to condemn the poor BBC coverage and hope to persuade them to do more. I met them there and marched with them as far as Trafalgar Square; they went on towards Parliament but I stopped to cover two other protests over events abroad.

Ecuadorians living in the UK had come to call for the resignation of President Lenin Moreno who they say is their worst president ever. Many there were from indigenous groups who have been hardest hit by public service cuts, particularly the ending of fuel subsidies. Protests had been causing chaos in the capital Quito since these were announced two weeks earlier. The austerity measures had been demanded by the International Monetary Fund in order for the country to get a £3.4bn loan. After Brexit we could well see Britain having to meet similar IMF demands whose aim is to protect and promote international capital and corporations at the expense of the poor.

As the Ecuadorians left they were replace by Bolivians who held a lively rally with music and dancers in support of President Evo Morales, who was seeking a fourth term in elections a week later on 20 October.

Morales, the first Indigenous president, and his Movement for Socialism (MAS) greatly reduced poverty, cut the influence of the USA and multinational companies and made Bolivia a model of economic growth. Although popular among the poorer citizens, his policies had not endeared him to the wealthy or to the United States.

Although the election results made Morales a clear winner, with just enough votes to win on the first round, it was followed by violent insurrection amid claims of electoral fraud. Morales fled the country and resigned as President claiming there had been a coup after armed intruders broke into his home. He was offered political asylum first in Mexico and later moved from there to asylum in Argentina.

Although an Organization of American States investigation found there had been voting fraud, later studies by US political scientists and experts on Latin American politics concluded there was no statistical evidence of fraud. Despite being voted in by the Bolivian people, a warrant was issued in December for the arrest of Morales on charges of sedition and terrorism.

More about the three protests on My London Diary:

Rally supports Bolivia’s Evo Morales
Against Ecuadorian President Moreno
Solidarity with Rojava – Kurdish Syria


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.


Oct 1 2016: Heathrow Climate Die-in

Thursday, October 1st, 2020
The die-in begins

I’m not a great fan of Prince Charles – or any royalty who I think are all parasites whose ancestors stole the land from the people and are still fleecing us in various ways – but I had to agree with him when a few days ago he called for a ‘Marshall-like plan’ to combat climate change, which he warned will “dwarf” the impact of coronavirus, with potentially devastating consequences. Perhaps he was still rather underplaying the danger we all face, but if he and David Attenborough were ever to come to power we might just see a shift in our establishment and government that could at least alleviate some of the more disastrous effects of global heating.

Protesters wait with travellers in the Departures lounge

But I’m not optimistic. Averting catastrophe will require drastic changes in our economic structures and ways of life which will impact the highest polluters most – and that “1%” are those who currently run most of the world to feed their ever-unsatiated greed. The rich are the rich because they have always put themselves first, and have never given up their advantages without a fight – and have always been able to afford the better arms and armies.

One thing that will have to change is aviation. Flights by a relatively small proportion of people make a ridiculous contribution to greenhouse gases – not just by weekend private jet flights to Perugia but much more by ‘frequent fliers’ on regular services. But it isn’t just the emissions from burning fossil fuel in flights, but the huge amounts of energy and materials in making planes and airport infrastructure which present a problem, as well as the effects of global freight leading to deforestation and other environmental problems around the world. Even if hydrogen-fuelled aircraft were to remove most of the pollution problems of actual flights the aviation industry will remain a climate threat.

Some had aprons with messages and read out information and there were speeches

Back in 2010 I was with local campaigners celebrating the cancellation of plans to expand Heathrow by building an extra ‘third’ runway. But lobbying by the aviation industry and a deliberately short-sighted ‘Davies Report’ put it back as government policy in 2016, though in 2020 a judicial review ruled that the government’s decision to proceed with building the third runway were unlawful as they had failed to take into account the government’s commitments to combat climate change.

The protest inside Heathrow’s Terminal 2 took place as the government were preparing to back building the third runway again in 2016 and was organised by Reclaim The Power. It was a part of a global wave of resistance to airport expansion on environmental and social grounds, and took the form of a ‘flash mob’ with a well choreographed event, beginning with a die-in over which frequent fliers stepping over their dead bodies and luggage to a champagne fast track check-in desk, followed by songs and dances.’ There were other protests at Gatwick and in Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey and elsewhere.

A protester dressed as a frequent flyer steps through the die-in

I just a just a little nervous anticipation beforehand about photographing the event, which was taking place in a privately owned space, though one open to the public, but airport security made no attempt to stop me or the protesters other than keeping us outside the security zone. I think the organisers had made clear to them that they were not attempting to greatly disrupt the airport and would not be causing any damage.

‘Frequent flyers’ party

Outside the airport where 150 cyclists were protesting things were a little different, with police over-reacting hugely to a relatively minor protest, shutting down roads across a large area for several hours. They turned what would have been hardly noticeable to travellers in the area into a major incident.

Many more pictures from the protest inside Terminal 2 at Heathrow flashmob against airport expansion.

Al Quds march – 28 Sept 2008

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Twelve years ago today, rather than sitting at home in front of a computer as I am today, still avoiding the virus, I was photographing one of the more contentious regular protests on the streets of London, the annual Al Quds Day march.

Al Quds is the Arabic name for the city of Jerusalem, literally meaning ‘The Holy One’ and in 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran announced the last Friday of the month of Ramadan as International Quds Day to express support for oppressed Muslims around the world and in particular to protest against the occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews opposed to Zionism took a leading role in the march

In the UK, a march through London takes place on the Sunday after the day itself, and is generally attended by several thousand people, mainly Shia Muslim families from mosques around the UK, but supported by many other groups, mainly Muslim but including some Jewish, pro-Palestinian and left-wing groups. This year because of the virus it was celebrated on Friday May 22 by a world-wide on-line event.

Back in 2008 the main groups opposing the march were Iranian opposition groups, along with a larger number of protesters from extreme right anti-Islamic groups, with just a small number of Zionist supporters of Israel. Police largely managed to keep the two sides apart while allowing both to protest.

But the situation did get rather fraught, particularly when the march was passing the where the opposition groups had been kept behind barriers at Piccadilly Circus, and I found myself getting abuse and threats from both sides. At the time I wrote:

“Things got a little heated at Piccadilly Circus, and some demonstrators objected to me taking pictures of them shouting and gesturing at the counter-demonstration, pushing me out of the march. Doubtless some of the other demonstrators on the other side didn’t like me photographing them either, and the police certainly wanted me back on the other side of the tape again. It is important to record what’s happening, and to stand up for a free press, so I kept taking pictures.”

My London Diary, September 2008

There are many (too many) of these pictures on the pages of this story on My London Diary.


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.


6 Years Ago: 24 Sept 2014 Poor Doors

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

Six years ago Class War were holding weekly protests outside One Commercial St in Aldgate against the seperate entrances to the building for those in social housing and private residents. The private residents came into a spacious foyer with comfortable furniture and a reception desk with a concierge on the main street, while social housing tenants entered a bleak corridor down a filthy and badly lit alley at the side of the building.

This was the ninth weekly protest and I think the eighth I’d photographed in the series, which continued for around another 20 protests. Although it didn’t succeed in its main aim, the protests did take the issue onto the national agenda, and the alley leading to the poor door was cleaned up, resurfaced and given new lighting.

When the building manager came and escorted one of the residents out through the rich door, one of the protesters standing close to it moved in front of it, preventing it being closed. The manager made the mistake of moving away back towards the reception desk, and the protesters walked in.

They brought their banners in with them, and Ian Bone of Class War began to speak about the protest. The protesters made no attempt to stop residents who walked in or out past them, mostly taking little interest in what was happening.

Some of them were tourists staying a week in flats that are let on Airbnb; other flats in the building are permanently empty or only used for perhaps a week a year from foreign owners who hold them as investments, taking advantage of rising London housing prices to earn a good income when they sell.

Ian Bone had picked up the framed notice from the concierge desk as he spoke, reading out from it and making comments about how differently the rich were treated compared with the poorer residents. The woman who had been at the desk (it has someone on duty 24/7) had retreated with the building manager and was watching from a distance. He replaced the notice carefully beside a vase of flowers on the desk when he finished speaking, and stood beside them.

Later as I was photographing others I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye Ian hook the curved end of his walking stick around the vase, and we all heard the vase shatter as it hit the floor.

A few minutes later a couple of police officers arrived and talked with the protesters and the building manager.

After a few minutes of argument the protesters left the foyer and continued their protest on the pavement outside. There were more speeches, including from a local resident who stopped as he walked past to talk with the campaigners and backed their protest.

More police had arrived, and as the campaigners decided it was time to end the evening’s protest and began to walk away, a woman officer stood in Ian Bone’s way. Other officers came to surround him, and after some talking he was arrested, put in a police van and driven away.

At the police station he was shown CCTV of him pulling the vase from the desk and then admitted he had deliberately broken it. He was made to pay compensation for the broken vase, but no charges were brought against him.

Class War Occupy Rich Door

Reclaim the Streets – 1996

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020
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Protesters including groups of drummers meet at Broadgate

I read a reminder a couple of days ago that this was the 24th anniversary of the 1996 Reclaim the Streets protest in West London, which began at Broadgate, then took the Central Line to Shepherd’s Bush, where line of police held up the protesters and the partying began while we waited for everyone to arrive.

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Police manhandle a protester at Shepherds Bush

It wasn’t too long before some of the protesters had outflanked the police and the rest surged through to take over the A41M spur which leads from Shepherds Bush to Westway and to party across both carriageways.

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Let London Breathe

There was a stage with music and dancing, and some people turned up with carpets and old sofas and made up living rooms on the tarmac.

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A woman looks at the notice ‘Street Festival – Temporary Road Closure

It was difficult to know exactly what was happening, particularly at Shepherds Bush, but also once we were partying on the motorway, and harder still to know how to photograph the event. Looking back I don’t think I did a very good job of it, though there are some pictures I quite like. But though I think they convey something of the spirit of the event, perhaps they don’t tell the story as well as I would like. There is also a certain sameness which results from them all being taken on 28mm or 35mm lenses, probably on a Minolta CLE or Leica M2.

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Partying on the A41M

You can read several stories with people’s own recollections of the day online which provide some of the background to these pictures on the Past Tense radical histories blog.

After I’d been photographing the partying on the motorway for some time I decided that nothing new seemed to be happening and it was time to go home and have a meal. I saw some others climbing over a low wall and followed them, making my way to Latimer Road tube.

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A living room with sofa and carpet on the A41M

The pictures were of course taken on film, and I seem to have only worked in black and white. I probably developed the films I had taken a few days later, and will have then printed perhaps half a dozen and probably a few weeks later taken them in to Photofusion’s picture library. Over the years a handful may have been printed in magazines and books, and I think I probably shared a few on various web sites, but many are now being seen for the first time outside the small group of friends with whom I met to share and criticise work. The images were digitised using the Nikon ES-2 adapter and a Nikon 60mm f2.8 macro lens on a Nikon D810.

You can see more of the pictures I took that day in my Flickr album Reclaim the Streets: London 13 July 1996.


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.