Posts Tagged ‘stop shopping’

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Wednesday, July 27th, 2022

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism – my Saturday 27th July 2013 began with a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London, continued with a vigil for Bradley Manning who exposed US war crimes and ended with a march and rally against and Injustice.


Rev Billy at HSBC – Victoria

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism
Golden Toads to the rescue with ice

I met the Rev Billy and his choir on the Stop Shopping Church Tour England in a green open space on Victoria Street, opposite New Scotland Yard (which has since moved to the Embankment.) There they practised their performance as species – monkeys, jaguars and eagles – among those threatened by climate change.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Some had heads of Golden Toads, a Costa Rican species already made extinct by climate change. These were hidden away as the group walked towards the HSBC bank at Victoria, and we all walked in trying our best to look like normal customers and going up to the long line of ‘Express Banking’ cash machines.

Fossil Fuels, Bradley Manning & Global Racism

Then the group erupted into dance action, with the Rev Billy using a megaphone to tell bank staff and customers what is happening and why we are in HSBC. Fossil Fuels are killing life on this planet and London banks and the London Stock Exchange play a key role in this – a quarter of all fossil fuel shares are traded on the LSE and in 2010-12 the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with the HSBC in the lead. He promised that they would leave the bank after the short performance.

Then the Golden Toads arrived to save the species, bringing with them some large eggs of ice to help cool the planet down, and then as promised people left the bank to continue to the end of the performance on the wide pavement outside. Police arrived and went into the bank as the players were leaving to celebrate their action in a nearby cafe and bar.

More at Rev Billy at HSBC


Free Bradley Manning Vigil – St Martin’s, Trafalgar Square

Saturday 27th July 2013 was an international day of action by the Bradley Manning Support Network, and in London they held a vigil on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Bradley Manning’s trial had started on 3rd June in Fort Meade, US, and protests have continued both inside and outside the court, with the ‘gay whistleblower’ being celebrated in countries across the world and awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize. Many see Bradley – later Chelsea Manning as a hero who should be honoured rather than imprisoned. Her trial ended on 30th July with a sentence of 35 years, but in 2017 this was commuted by President Obama to seven years, dating from her arrest in 2010.

Free Bradley Manning Vigil


Against Global Racism and Injustice – US Embassy to Whitehall

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK held a rally outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square before marching to Whitehall in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others to highlight the reality of racism and seek justice, both in the UK and US.

The protest was supported by many anti-racist organisations including Operation Black Vote, the National Black Students Campaign, Global Afrikan Congress, PCS, RMT Black Members, Counterfire, UAF, Love Music Hate Racism, Lambeth TUC and Lambeth People’s Assembly and a number of well-known faces from the British left were among the marchers, some were scheduled to speak at the Downing Street rally.

The US Embassy was chosen as the starting point because of the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin and the global outcry against the acquittal of his murderer under the Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

But although this was a protest against global racism and injustice, and it had a particular focus on this country, and as Lee Jasper stated “We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney.” And others also made clear in speeches they were appalled by UK cases, including We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney and many, many other cases.

I followed the march as it went through Mayfair, but then had to leave rather than attend the final rally.

More at Against Global Racism and Injustice.


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Cuts, Yemen, Shopping Problem & Police Violence

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021

Back in 2009 we had a Labour government, but public services were still under threat and public sector jobs being cut. The euphoria with which many had greeted the Labour victory in 1997 to the theme music of “Things Can Only Get Better” had long evaporated, thanks to the country being dragged against its will into a illegal war which had ended with Iraq in chaos and the failure to reverse or ameliorate disastrous privatisations and the attack on social housing.

New Labour had also proved themselves inept in the huge expansion of the Private Finance Initiative, PFI, which gave a continuing huge windfall to the private sector and left public bodies, particularly parts of the NHS, with huge debts. The financial crisis in which hit stock markets around the world in September and October 2008 was a final straw, and while the actions of prime minister Gordon Brown may have helped saved the banks this came at enormous cost.

Government cuts were felt keenly in North London, where there were massive job losses including those of 550 mainly support workers from London Metropolitan University, 500 civil servants from Archway tower and more at City University, where adult education is under threat. On Saturday 23 May, 2009 around 500 met in Higbbury Fields for a march to a rally at Archway to defend jobs, services and education Among the mainly trade union speakers at the rally was just one local MP, Jeremy Corbyn.

From the rally I took the Northern line to Charing Cross and walked down Whitehall to Downing St. Protesting on the pavement opposite were Yemenis from the Southern Democratic Assembly. Yemen has been a split country for years, with two civil wars in the 1980s as well as the current ongoing war. Southern Yemen and North Yemen had agreed in principle to unite in 1972, and did so in 1990, but the Southern Yemenis revolted in 1994, accusing the government of grabbing land and property and of human rights abuses. Their protest in 2009 was calling for an end to the repression and military occupation by the North and for the release of jailed Southern leaders. In 1994 and now, the situation is complicated both by religious differences – Sunni and Shia – and by the interventions of a wide range of foreign powers – with often some strange bedfellows. The current was is of course led by Saudi Arabia, whose see it as a fight against the regional Shia power, Iran.

Opposite, on the pavement in front of the security gates to Downing St, I photographed a performance by the Reverend Billy and his ‘Life After Shopping’ Gospel choir from New York who were in London on their 2009 UK Shopocalypse Tour. Clearly the police didn’t quite now how to handle the holy activists, and the officer who stopped the Reverend to question him failed to make much progress – other than being diagnosed by Billy as having a “shopping problem.”

Like me, the Rev Billy and his team from the Church of Life After Shopping were on their way to the National Demonstration against Police Violence in London organised by the United Campaign Against Police Violence, set up following the G20 demonstration in London in which Ian Tomlinson, a man not taking part in the demonstration, was assaulted by and killed by a police officer.

Prominent among those taking part were members of two families of men who were killed in Brixton Police Station, Ricky Bishop and Sean Rigg. Ricky Bishop, a 25 year old black man died after being detained and brought into the police station in 2001. Sean Rigg, also black – like the majority of those who have died in custody – was taken into Brixton police station in August 2008 and within hours this fit 40 year old was dead. Police issued a number of misleading statements – as they did around the death of Ian Tomlinson, and failed to make a timely investigation.

Gradually over the years, dedicated work, led by his sister Marcia led to an inquest verdict ‘that the police had used “unsuitable and unnecessary force” on Rigg, that officers failed to uphold his basic rights and that the failings of the police “more than minimally” contributed to his death’. Further pressure by the campaign resulted in an IPCC report and eventual request of three officers. The CPS decided to drop the all charges against two of them, while the third was charged with perjury, though only after the Rigg family had forced a review. Despite the officer accepting he had given false evidence, a jury acquitted him. Further pressure led to an independent review of the IPCC investigation which ‘concluded that the IPCC committed a series of major blunders and that there had been “inappropriate conduct” by the Police Federation of England and Wales.’ (More details on Wikipedia). There have been several thousand deaths in police custody, prisons or other secure institutions in the last 50 years but only one officer brought to justice for the killings – convicted of manslaughter in 1986.

Police kept a close eye on the protesters and formed a line to protect Downing St, but otherwise acted reasonably until the protest held a solemn ceremony outside the police headquarters at New Scotland Yard on Victoria St, linking hands and holding a silence in memory of those who have died. This was rudely and provocatively interrupted by an woman officer sitting inside a police van blasting out a warning from her chief over the loudspeakers. Presumably as intended this produced an angry reaction from the crowd, and for a few seconds it seemed likely would provoke violence and lead to arrests, but those leading the event quietened the crowd and the ceremony continued, ending with the release of a large cloud of black balloons in memory of the dead.

Demonstration against Police Violence
Rev Billy Performs at Downing St
Southern Yemenis Demonstrate
March to Defend Jobs, Services & Education


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