Posts Tagged ‘US Embassy’

Class War Occupy Rich Door 24 Sep 2014

Friday, September 24th, 2021

A few days ago I had to sit down and write some explanations to a friend who lives on a smallholding in rural France who doesn’t have a computer or internet access. It made me realise how much has changed for most of us since some time in the 1990s, when we all began to be connected by the World Wide Web and browsers such as Mosaic which really made the breakthrough to something like the web we now know and most of us spend large parts of our life in.

Some time ago I’d sent him a copy of my book – or rather ‘zine’ – ‘Class War: Rich Door, Poor Door‘ I published in 2015:

“A photographic account of the protests from July 2014 to May 2015 at One Commercial St, Aldgate, London against separate doors for rich and poor residents. The book includes over 200 images from 29 protests. ISBN: 978-1-909363-14-4”

It is still available, and at the very reasonable price of £6.00, though given Blurb’s postage rates it only makes sense to buy it if you get together with a few mates to order several copies.

More recently my wife sent him a copy of a postcard with my picture from 2014, ‘Vigil for Ferguson, US Embassy – No Justice, No Peace’ and he wrote back asking who Ferguson was – and included a couple of questions about the Class War book.

Google of course would have supplied him the answers in the twinkling of a mouse click, and told him Ferguson was a town in Missouri where riots had followed both the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer and the failure to indict the officer for the murder. He could have got the answer even quicker on my own web site, My London Diary, where putting ‘Ferguson’ in the search box at top right on most pages returns links to the Solidarity with Ferguson vigil, Hands Up! Against Racist Police Shootings protest following the shooting and this Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown following the decision not to charge Darren Wilson with his murder.

His second question was about the Class War banner with its message “We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live” Lucy Parsons 1853-1942, and was simply to ask “Who was Lucy Parsons”. Again Wikipedia and other web sites such as the IWW Archive would have given a fast and far more comprehensive answer than the brief reply I wrote.

The final question was one that amused me. “Who, ” he asked, “was that elderly gentleman with a walking stick” and “why was he being arrested and being put into a police van in one of the pictures“. It was of course Ian Bone, and again my web site contains much about him on many occasions, including pictures and an explanation of his arrest on Wednesday 24th September 2014.

When the building manager had held open the ‘Rich Door’ for a resident to go through, the person holding one end of the Lucy Parsons banner had stepped in front of it to prevent him closing it. He made the mistake of walking away to the concierge desk, probably to ask the concierge to call the police, but leaving the door open and unguarded. So Class War walked in unopposed, bringing two banners with them and continued to protest in the the foyer.

Ian Bone talked to the building manager, then held up a couple of framed notices from the desk, and talked about them and the objections to social tenants being made to use a separate door on a dirty alley at the side of the building, before putting them back carefully on the desk next to a vase full of flowers. Others spoke briefly and people loudly shouted slogans.

And then “there was a crash and the vase of flowers was no longer on the reception desk. Ian Bone had knocked it off with his walking stick, which he had been swinging around rather wildly as he spoke. I only saw it out of the corner of my eye and couldn’t tell if it was deliberate or accidental.” Though I was fairly sure it would have been on purpose.

Shortly after, the police arrived, and there was some discussion; I went outside and a few minutes later the protesters followed and the protest continued as usual on the pavement, with more speeches and noise. Eventually the protesters decided it was time to leave and were moving away when a police office approached Ian Bone and told him he was being arrested as the CCTV in the ‘rich door’ foyer showed him breaking the vase. There was considerable argument as he was led away and put in the van, but no attempt at resistance.

Later we heard that Ian Bone had agreed to pay £70 for a replacement vase and the building owners had decided not to press charges. And at the following week’s Poor Doors protest Class War brought along a couple of vases of flowers to play with and to try and get the building manager to take, though as they probably came from a Pound Shop they “they were perhaps a little plastic and tacky looking compared to the one that had been broken the previous week.”


The building manager refused to take the replacements, but later made the mistake of grabbing hold of one which was thrust in his face, “probably by reflex. His face when he found himself holding it was interesting, and he quickly put it down, placing it on the desk in the reception area in the same place as the one knocked off last week, complete with its with a ‘Toffs Out!’ Class War card.” And I was just able to photograph it through the window there on the desk.

More on My London Diary:
Class War Occupy Rich Door
Class War Poor Doors Week 10


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.


Eight Years Ago… 27 July 2013

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Eight years ago on Saturday 27th July 2013 my working day began with the Rev Billy on a small green space on Victoria Street preparing the Stop Shopping Choir and volunteers for a “radicalized midsummer cloud forest dream” performance against the support given to fossil fuels and climate chaos by the banks and the City of London.

I’m not sure what staff and customers at the HSBC close to Victoria station made of the event, which pointed out that in the two previous years the top five UK banks raised £170 billion for fossil fuel companies, with HSBC in the lead. The Golden Toad costumes were for the Central American species forced into extinction by climate change in the 1980’s and recent weather events have now forced even the more sceptic to take the crisis seriously, even if so far to take little actual action.

After the performance in the bank, and as police began to arrive the group made their way to a wide area of pavement outside and staged another performance watched by pedestrians in the busy street close to the station, before leaving to celebrate in a nearby café.

I left to go to Trafalgar Square where as a part of an international day of action the Bradley Manning Support Network held a vigil at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The ‘gay whistleblower’, now Chelsea Manning, was being celebrated in countries across the world for passing documents to WikiLeaks which exposed a great deal of illegal and immoral actions by the US and other governments and had recently been awarded the Sean MacBride Peace Prize and was then on trail in Fort Meade. She was later sentenced to 35 years in a maximum security jail, but this was commuted to around seven years by President Obama and she was released in 2017.

From there I made my way to the US Embassy, then still in Grosvenor Square, for a rally before the start of march organised by BARAC against Global Racism and Injustice in solidarity with families of Trayvon Martin, Stephen Lawrence, Azelle Rodney, Jimmy Mubenga and many others, aimed a highlighting the reality of racism and demanding justice, both in the UK and US.

Although the march had been prompted by the acquittal in Florida of the murderer of Trayvon Martin which had led to a global outcry, the emphasis of the speeches at the Embassy was very much on events here in the UK. In his speech Lee Jasper of BARAC after mentioning the Martin case went on to say:

“We march to support the call from the Lawrence family for a full and independent judicial led public inquiry into the allegations that the Metropolitan Police sought to smear both the family and supporters through a covert police surveillance unit.”

“We march for Jimmy Mubenga, Mark Duggan, Kingsley Burrell, Smiley Culture and Azelle Rodney. We march for justice and equality in the 50th anniversary year of Dr Martin Luther King’s 1968 March on Washington. The truth is that his dream is a threadbare vision here in the UK where racism is on the rise amplified by austerity.”

My London Diary

After an hour or so of speeches the marchers left to march to a further rally at Downing St, but I left them as they went down Oxford St.

Against Global Racism and Injustice
Free Bradley Manning Vigil
Rev Billy at HSBC


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.


Protesting Trump’s Deal: 1 Feb 2020

Monday, February 1st, 2021

A year ago I was out taking pictures of a protest at the US Embassy in Nine Elms, and it really does seem a huge age ago. I’ve got so used to staying at home, just occasionally going out for a little exercise. But last Thursday I had my first dose of the vaccine, and in a few weeks time I can perhaps be thinking about getting back to work, though until the current lockdown ends (and who knows when that will be) there won’t be many protests for me to photograph.

I never much liked the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, and what architectural attraction it had was rather spoiled when it got hidden behind some rather ugly security additions. The new embassy isn’t perhaps a great piece of architecture and the screen which covers three sides is rather a plastic add-on, but at least it does make it stand out from the buildings around, and the moat is rather a nice piece of landscaping. But I think the main motivation behind the move was to move the many protests at the embassy out of the public eye, away from the centre of London to a rather obscure location.

Protests here are invisible, hidden from any road and only seen by the armed guards patrolling the area and by people actually going into or out of the embassy. On a weekday there will be queues for visas, but at the weekend the area is deserted. Of course this does make filming and photography of any protests and the publication of these more important.

Although it is still very much of backwater London, the area around here is also the largest development area in London, with new flats already around the embassy and others going up to the east and the west where there is huge development around Battersea Power Station. It’s already easy to get to, with Vauxhall station, one of London’s larger transport hubs, just a few minutes away, but will be even more accessible once the Northern Line extension to Battersea opens – supposedly this autumn – with a station at Nine Elms.

The protest on Saturday 1 Feb was against Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ which they say is intended to liquidate the Palestinian cause and minimise sovereignty for the Palestinian people across Palestine, marginalising them in isolated ghettos in a rigid implementation of the current apartheid regime.

It was organised by various Palestinian groups in Britain and supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Friends of Al-Aqsa (FoA) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), and there were many Palestinians among the several hundred taking part.

Also coming to protest against the Palestinians was a rather sad group of four Zionists who came to wave Israeli flags and try to disrupt the protest, shouting insults. Some of the protesters confronted them, shouting back, and police stepped in to keep the two groups a short distance apart while the main rally continued.

Among the many protesters were a couple posing as President Trump who handed a fistful of dollars to another dressed as Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who was holding a bone saw like that used to dismember Saudi dissident and journalist for The Washington Post Jamal Kashoggi by the team he ordered to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2 October 2018.

More at Palestinians against Trump’s Deal


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.


Support of Palestinians – not Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020

Fortunately I am not a member of the Labour Party, so can speak freely about Israel and Palestine without fear of being expelled from the party. I’ve never actually been a member, though in my teenage years used to occasionally attend the meetings for young socialists at the local Cooperative hall, mainly I think because they would offer cigarettes around very freely. As a fresher I joined the Labour Students and attended meetings until they were closed down by the national party for being socialist. But by then I was involved with various other groups campaigning on various political issues but outside the party system. That remains the case and I’m still a member of groups including Friends of the Earth, CND and Global Justice Now.

The only political party I’ve ever actually joined was the Green Party, though I think back then it may still have been called the Ecology Party. After a year I didn’t renew my membership, partly because it seemed to be spending most of its time on internal feuding, but also because of the strange cranks it seemed to attract. Of course it also includes some of the most honest and sensible politicians around but our crazy electoral system means few of them getting elected. But most years Caroline Lucas would get my vote as politician of the year, and a few have made it as local politicians and also MEPs. Though sadly the latter opportunity is about to end.

Back in my student years and later, virtually everyone on the left including myself admired and supported Israel. It wasn’t just the Holocaust, but also their fight to free themselves from the British mandate and their determination to build a future. I think we remained largely ignorant about the 1948 ‘Nakba’ when around half of the Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes. Several of my friends went to volunteer in kibbutz and we envied them and thought seriously about doing the same to help build a socialist future.

Over the years we’ve learnt more about what actually happens in Israel and Palestine, and the government of Israel has become very much more right wing. While almost none deny the right of Israel to exist (and to that extent are Zionists), we all want a fair solution in the area which recognises the civil and human rights of Palestinians. The Balfour declaration as well as favouring the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people also insisted “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” and in 2017 the British government recognised the declaration should also have called for protection of the Palestinian Arabs’ political rights.

I’ve been labelled by a few militant ultra-right anti-Palestinians as an “anti-Semitic photographer” because I have photographed protests against human rights abuses by Israeli government forces – like these I photographed on 23rd December 2017 – and against laws that make people – including notably Nelson Mandela – describe Israel as an “apartheid state”. And also for photographing protests calling for support for the BDS movement, which calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions “to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.” None of these things are anti-Semitic, though they are opposed to policies of the current government of Israel.

I’m fairly certain however that were I a member of the Labour Party I would now be suspended and expelled for my views – along with many of the leading Jewish (and non-Jewish) Labour activists who express any support for human and civil rights for Palestinians. But fortunately you can’t be expelled if you are not a member.

The protests on this date were prompted by two events. The Palestinian Forum in Britain protested outside the US Embassy after US President Trump’s announcement that the US Embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem, there was a regular protest calling for a boycott of goods from Israel outside Marks and Spencers on Oxford St and a protest in Trafalgar Square condemned the kidnap, beating up and arrest of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi by Israeli soldiers – which was also condemned at the two earlier protests.

A few militant supporters of the Israeli oppression of Palestinians came to insult and shout down the event in Trafalgar Square, with one man making clearly racist comments about one of the protesters. A police officer eventually arrived and suggested firmly they go away, but took no action over the complaints of racist abuse made against one of them. The man in a hat in my picture above was found guilty of disorderly behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress for similar behaviour at a BDS protest the following year.

More at:
Free Ahed Tamimi
Free Palestine, Free Ahad Tamimi
Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine


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 2014 (2)

Thursday, November 26th, 2020

The Wednesday of the final week of November in 2014 was an easier day for me as I was able to spend most of it at home and catching up on various things including a little shopping and visiting the library to borrow new books to occupy me on my train rides to London. I only had to leave home around 5pm to arrive in Aldgate for the Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special outside the tower with separate entrances for its wealthy and its social housing tenants.

After 19 weekly protests outside the ‘rich door’ the tower owners had finally agreed to talk with Class War and try to reach a solution to the problem, and in response Class War had agreed to call off further protests unless the talks failed. So this was more of a celebration than a protest, although the talks, when they took place didn’t really reach a satisfactory conclusion.

But there were some concessions and the protests did lead to some real improvements including new paving and lighting and better cleaning for the side alley which lead to the ‘poor door’, and perhaps more importantly they raised the whole issue of segregated entrances very much into the national agenda.

I was sorry to have to rush away from the celebrations, which I suspect continued afterwards in one of the local pubs.


A tube ride took me across town to the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square, and the Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown.

In August, police officer Darren Wilson had shot and killed Michael Brown Jr, an 18-year-old black man in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s companion said that Wilson had grabbed Brown through his car window after calling on them to stop as they walked down the street; Brown, who was unarmed, tried to grab the officer’s gun as he threatened him and two shots were fired, one hitting Brown’s hand. Brown and his friend fled and when Wilson fired again, Brown turned around, raised his hands in surrender and shouted ‘Don’t Shoot!’ and Wilson fired six more bullets into his body. Wilson’s account differed greatly and a grand jury having heard decided not to indict him.

Riots followed the shooting, continuing for over a week in Ferguson, and there were protests across America and worldwide against the shooting, using the slogan ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!’ There were further protests in 170 cities after the grand jury verdict was announced, and elsewhere across the world including this candlelit vigil in London called by London Black Revolutionaries and the NUS Black Students Campaign. Among those who spoke at the event were the Chair of London Campaign Against State & Police Violence, Malia Bouattia of NUS Black Students Campaign, Zita Holbourne of BARAC (above), Marcia Rigg, Carole Duggan, the RMT Paddington Branch Secretary, Wail Qaisim of Defend the Right to Protest and some people from London Black Revs.

Whatever actually happened in Ferguson, it is clear that US policing is racist, killing black people disproportionately, and acting – as Wilson did – out of fear due often due to racist stereotyping. Black Lives Matter – but not very much to some US Police forces and officers.

There was little or no street lighting in the area in front of the US Embassy where this protest took place, and for most of these pictures the main light present came from the candles and nightlights that were held by the protesters. A very tightly packed crowd made working in it difficult. When I got to the front of the protest there were some videographers at times using lighting which I took advantage of, but it seldom produces an attractive effect.

It was unfortunate the the Socialist Workers Party had decided to hold their own separate protest before this, probably because the organising groups had declined to let them take it over, but at least they did allow this vigil to use the public address equipment they had brought for their event. And many of those taking part are holding the placards that they provided in very large numbers.

When covering events at night I usually carry a small LED light which can illuminate people or objects a up to a few metres from the camera, usually holding it high and away from my body in my left hand while holding the camera to my eye with my right hand to give better lighting than using it in the hot shoe. If I have to, I’ll use my Nikon SB800 flash in the hot shoe, still using high ISOs to try and avoid a black background, usually with the camera on manual or shutter priority with speeds around 1/30s.


More on both events:
Candlelit Vigil for Michael Brown
Class War Xmas Ceasefire Special


Back to Mayfair 1987

Thursday, September 17th, 2020
Culross St/Park Lane area, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-12-positive_2400

Logically you might expect Wood’s House to be in Wood’s Mews, and it may well have been, but if so is no longer there. The frame before I took two pictures of this rather pleasant 1930s building was a view of the side in Wood’s Mews of a house in Park Lane, and the frame after is of another house further south on Park Lane on the corner of Culross St.

I suspect a building with only two stories became yielded a huge profit to developers in being built as an ugly but considerably taller block, but it would be nice to be proven wrong and to find this still tucked away in a corner.

129 Park Lane, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987  87-7a-36-positive_2400

I think this rather splendid marble (I think) steps are still there on Park Lane behind the high wall that now keeps them out of view of the hoi polloi who often crowd the area around the bus stops close to this corner with Green St.

Perhaps walls like that which now hides these steps and the view from the pavement of the houses behind are a result of the increase in inequality in our society and reflect an increasing unease among the elites. Though there have been few signs of the London mob in recent years. More likely the owners got fed up with finding people sitting on them waiting for buses.

Eagle Squadron, memorial, Grosvenor Square, Wesminster, 1987 87-7a-41-positive_2400

Before the US joined in the Second World War at the end of 1941, 244 US citizens volunteered to join the RAF and served in the RAF, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes in three three Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons, despite US laws which meant losing their citizenship for fighting for a foreign power The squadrons were transferred to the USAF in 1942 and the pilots were pardoned in 1944.

The bronze eagle on the top of the column is by Elizabeth Frink, and the memorial was financed by US newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst. It was unveiled here by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.

US Embassy, Upper Grosvenor St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-43-positive_2400

Grosvenor Square was chosen as the site for the Eagle Squadron memorial because of the US Embassy which occupied the entire west end of the square. It was then a fine example of modern architecture and lacked the high fences, ugly lodges and patrolling armed police that made it a rather grim feature in more recent years. I think the long queue is of people queuing to enter the embassy to get US visas.

Car, Gilbert St, St Anselm's Place,  Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-64-positive_2400

I have to admit to knowing nothing about cars. But this one parked in Gilbert Street was obviously a little out of the ordinary and I imagine very expensive. It looked to me like something out of a black and white film noir, and perhaps the setting would have served too. I’m sure there will be people who see this picture and can immediately recognise the make, model and date – and if so I hope they let me know in a comment.

To me it looks American, and the style seems to belong to the late 1930s, though it could be a modern replica, possibly one made for use in a film. It has an engine that doesn’t quite fit in the bonnet, perhaps 8 cylinders. The number plate NGF786Y no longer appears to exist. This is also a picture I seem to have missed retouching and there are more than usual number of scratches and dust spots.

Davies St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-65-positive_2400

It isn’t hard to identify this building as the Grosvenor Works of John Bolding and Sons in Davies Street, as their name is proudly displayed on a plaque at bottom left and on the building at top right, with the initials JBS featuring twice in the centre of the picture. The company was founded by Thomas Bolding in 1822 in South Molton St and they were at first brass founders.

By the 1870s they had moved into the business they became famous for as providers of high-class sanitary equipment. They moved to this site in the late 1880s and these premises were built as a showroom for their goods, with a foundry elsewhere in London. The architects were Wimperis and Arber; John Thomas Wimperis had been appointed as one of the Grosvenor Estates approved architects in 1887 and his assistant William Henry Arber became a partner in 1889.

In 1963 Boldings bought up the business of their rather better-known rival Thomas Crapper. But a few years later in 1969 Boldings was wound up, while Thomas Crapper & Company Limited, founded in 1836, continues in business based in Huddersfield, offering ” a small yet extraordinarily authentic set of Victorian/Edwardian sanitaryware.”

The River Tyburn runs through the basement of the building which is now occupied by Grays Antiques, established in 1977. The river is a tourist attraction with large goldfish swimming in it.

Park Lane, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7b-66-positive_2400

93 Park Lane, a small part of which is visible at extreme right was a speculative rebuild of 1823-25 by builder Samuel Baxter and is Grade I listed primarily because it “was Benjamin Disraeli’s London residence from 1839 to 1872; Coningsby, much of Sybil and other novels by Disraeli were written here”, whereas the others are all Grade II. 94 to its left was also rebuilt by Baxter at the same date. Next left, 95 was rebuilt in 1842-4 by John Harrison in plain brick with stucco only on the ground floor; the rounded 96 was rebuilt in 1826 as was its more angular neighbour 97. Almost entirely out of sight at left, 98 from 1823-5 was from 1888-94 the residence of Frank Harris, “author and adventurer”, and the final house in the terrace, not in my picture, was also built then by Jon Goldicutt and was the home from 1826-85 of philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore.

Many other photographers have photographed these houses, including Bill Brandt, who made his picture on a Spring afternoon in 1932 from behind railings across the south-bound carriageway, with a London bus in traffic behind a rather grander horse-drawn carriage driven by two top-hatted men. On page 27 of ‘Camera In London’ it appears with the simple title ‘Mayfair’. The Tate website lists it as “Regency Houses, Park Lane, Mayfair – c.1930–9, later print” and apologises “SORRY, COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS PREVENT US FROM SHOWING THIS OBJECT HERE”, but you can view it on Artnet where it is captioned “Park Lane (Mayfair, London) , ca. 1960”. I increasingly think that our current copyright law needs review.


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.