Posts Tagged ‘whitehall’

Catalonia & Levitation

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

I began work on Saturday October 21st 2017 with a large group of Catalans at Piccadilly Circus, demanding immediate release of the political prisoners Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, and end to the repression and the start of dialogue to accept the electoral mandate of the Catalan Referendum.

After several speeches they set of to march to Trafalgar Square for photographs and then on to Downing St where they called on the UK Government to condemn the violence towards civilians during the referendum vote in Catalonia and to support a democratic solution.

In June 2021 the nine separatist leaders who had been jailed for sedition in 2017 were released, and talks finally restarted in September, with the Catalan government demanding an amnesty for the many pro-independence politicians still facing legal action over their part in the 2017 independence referendum and for the Spanish government to acknowledge their right to hold a referendum on self-determination, both demands still resisted by the government.

March in Solidarity with Catalonia


I left the Catalans at Parliament Square, where it wasn’t clear if their protest was ended but I was on my way to meet Class War’s Levitation Brigade of Ian Bone and shaman Jimmy Kunt (aka Adam Clifford) who were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Yippee levitation of the Pentagon during anti-Vietnam War protests with a similar action at Kensington Town Hall.

Standing on the steps of the entrance to the town hall of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the council responsible for the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower, Adam called out the demons of councillors including Nicholas Paget-Brown, Rock Feilding-Mellen & Elizabeth Campbell and attempted to levitate the town hall to a height of over 70 metres. “Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!

A security officer told them that they couldn’t do that here, but they told her it wasn’t possible to stop a levitation or exorcism and the ceremony went ahead.

Afterwards Ian Bone repeated a well-known quote from 1967 “You mean you didn’t see it, man?”

Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall

Flushed with success the Levitation Brigade decided to cross Kensington High St and repeat the exorcism and levitation at the offices of the Daily Mail, standing on the pavement outside between the offices and a highly polished Rolls-Royce.

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

Security here reacted rather more aggresively, coming to push the crew away and telling me I could not take photographs. I was standing on the pavement and told them I had every legal right to photograph whatever I chose, but had to move back rahter smartly to avoid getting fingerprints on my lens.

Class War of course found the over-reaction by the Daily Mail extremely amusing and continued to bait the security for some minutes after the levitation before leaving as you can see on My London Diary.

Class War levitate the Daily Mail
Class War levitate Kensington Town Hall


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Brexit and More: 20th Oct 2018

Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Brexit isn’t the end of the world, but it is beginning to become very clear what a huge mistake it was, driven by a relatively few people who not only stood to make large profits but also were scared of losing the huge advantages they get from currently legal tax avoidance schemes which the EU were promising to clamp down.

The vote – a close one – shows how the handful of billionaires who control most of our media and set the agenda for the rest use their power to influence many voters in this country, making a mockery of the ideals behind our ideas of democracy. It also showed the stupidity of the then Conservative leader who was so sure of winning that he set up the vote on an important constitutional change in a way that would not have been allowed by the average tennis club, where important issues would need rather more than a simple majority.

Those behind the People’s Vote argued that so much evidence had come out since the referendum that it was necessary to get a new mandate from the people to leave the EU. It was an argument that although well-founded was not going to get any support from the then PM Theresa May who was by then running scared of the right-wing hard Brexiteers who eventually took over the party. And it was also to prove toxic to the Labour Party who were pushed into supporting it by Keir Starmer – when there was already no shortage of poison and dirty tricks – as a leaked report made clear – though we still await the report of the Forde Inquiry on this.

The current dispute over the agreement signed with the EU to resolve the problems of the Irish border shows how eager the Johnson government was to get a hard Brexit done, apparently signing up without reading the small print (or rather ignoring the advice of civil servants who had read it.) Although the EU seem to be making things as easy as possible for exports to flow freely it currently seems likely that the UK will continue to demand the impossible and trigger a complete breakdown and a massive and highly damaging trade war, probably not confined to Europe.

I photographed at the start of the huge People’s March, when people filled much of Park Lane and a large corner of Hyde Park, and watched as they streamed past me.

Movement for Justice came to the march and tried to join it near the front, and when they were refused went and stood on the road in front of the official banner – along with quite a few other protesters. They were calling for an end to the hostile environment and the scapegoating of immigrants and demanding an amnesty for all people already present in the country and the extension of freedom of movement to include the Commonwealth. They marched down Piccadilly ahead of the main march whose start was held up.

Later I rejoined the main march as it came down Whitehall for the rally in Parliament Square. There were so many people that they could not all get into the square and many came to a halt along Whitehall, while others were reported still to be at Green Park, just a short distance from the start of the march. People were dancing and partying on the route having given up the attempt to complete the march.

A couple of other protests were taking place around Whitehall. Opposite Downing St the
People’s Mujahedin of Iran were protesting against the repressive regime in Iran,. there and calling for an end to executions there Posters reminded us that the Iranian regime is the world record holder for executions and gibbets and three women held in a prison cell illustrated the reign of terror there.

At the Ministry of Defence Veterans United Against Suicide were calling for more to be done to help service men and veterans in the fight against their developing PTSD and eventually committing suicide. They appeared to be a small extreme right group exploiting the issue, with a large banner supporting the soldier discharged for standing with Tommy Robinson in a photo used to publicise his extreme right-wing views. While I took a few pictures a speaker was condemning one of the major forces charities, accusing it of fraud and failure to act over the mental health issues. Some of those present made clear that I was not welcome at the event and I decided not to stay.

More at:

People’s Vote March – End
Veterans United Against Suicide
People’s Mujahedin of Iran
MfJ at People’s Vote March
People’s Vote March – Start


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October 7th 2017

Thursday, October 7th, 2021

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On 7th October 2017 I started the day at a silent vigil for Elephants and Rhinos in Parliament Square before going on the the main event, the Football Lads Alliance and Veterans Against Terrorism rally and march. They were protesting against the recent terror attacks in the UK and Europe, remembering the victims and calling on government to take decisive action against the extremist threat, including locking up all terrorist suspects and deporting those of foreign origin.

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I had some slight hopes that the FLA would turn out not just to be another extreme right organisation like the EDL and the organisers had emphasised that they were opposed to all extremism and racism, but the speeches at the rally in Park Lane and the response from the crowd soon made their position clear, with demands for many thousands of British Muslims to be locked up as extremists. And as I wrote “there was a huge outcry when the name of Diane Abbott was mentioned, with a loud shout from behind me that she should be raped. It was hard to avoid the impression that it was a meeting to stir up Islamophobia, and there seemed to be a total lack of sympathy with refugees fleeing their countries to seek asylum here.”

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Although most of the supporters were happy to be photographed with their wreaths there were a few times when I was greeted with abuse and threats and moved quickly away from some groups.

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More people joined the march as it moved up Picadilly and by the time it reached Trafalgar Square what had been billed as a silent march had become very noisy. There it was joined by a couple of hundred Gurkhas, many wearing medals, who marched at the front for a short distance before being overtaken by some of the organisers and fans.

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On Whitehall a group from Stand Up to Racism had gathered to stand as the march went past, handing out a flier ‘Some questions for the leaders of the FLA‘, which asked them to take steps to ensure their movement was not taken over by racists. The called on the marchers to stand together with the slogan ‘No to racism & Islamophobia, Football for All’.

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Many of the marchers took exception to this, shouting insults and threats, with some taking the leaflets and tearing them up, though there were some who seemed to take an interest and read it. Police formed a line to protect those handing out leaflets – making both handing the leaflets and taking photographs difficult, but preventing us being assaulted – and eventually forced the marchers who had stopped in a block against Stand Up to Racism to move away. Relatively few of the marchers seemed to make it to the final rally and wreath-laying on Westminster Bridge, with pubs in the area getting crowded and others hanging around in groups in Parliament Square.

Stand Up To Racism and the FLA
Football Lads Alliance March
Football Lads Alliance Rally
Silent Vigil for Elephants and Rhinos


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Global Climate Strike – 2019

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Two years ago, Friday 20 September 2019 saw Earth Day Global Climate Strike protests around the world inspired by Greta Thunberg. Many thousands came to the events in Central London, packing out quite a length of Millbank in the morning, but there were others around Westminster who didn’t quite get down to the rally, as well as local events in other parts of London.

The school kids get it, but even two years later it is quite clear that our government really doesn’t, though is happy to pay lip-service. The world is going to change and unless we act urgently it will change very much for the worse so far as human life is concerned.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report released in August 2021 makes the severity of our position clear, and floods and fires this year in countries across the world have underlined the need for urgent action to change our way of life.

Yet a few days ago, the government yet again confirmed its support for airport expansion and another runway at Heathrow, and is still backing oil exploration in our coastal waters, as well as a new coal mine, still subsidising gas-fired power stations and encouraging wood-burning which is causing large-scale environmental devastation in forests as well as churning out carbon dioxide and still failing to put the investment needed into green policies and green jobs.

It’s hard to believe the stupidity of our government, something only increased by reshuffles, particular when they promote people who have obviously failed. But most governments around the world are driven by short-term political considerations and by the interests of the rich and powerful, and this latter is perhaps nowhere more paramount than in the UK, where as well as the interests of huge companies and their bosses we also have the interests of the establishment and Crown and the City of London.

Brixton

The late Duke of Westminster who died in 2016 once told a reporter from the Financial Times who asked what advice he would give to a young entrepreneur who wanted to succeed. His reply “Make sure they have an ancestor who was a very close friend of William the Conqueror” is usually reported as being a joke, but certainly contains a great deal of truth. Britain is still very much owned and run for and by those who profited from that occupation, enacting laws which stole the land from the people. 955 years later we are still occupied.

After managing to extract myself from the crowded rally I went to pay brief visits to Climate Strike events elsewhere. The Elephant & Castle was a quick trip on the underground, and I photographed a march starting from there before jumping back on the tube to Brixton.

Children from Brixton primary schools were at a lunchtime rally in Windrush Square, and when that finished some were intending to travel into central London to join the main protest. I rushed away as the rally ended to get back too, and found a largish group of secondary school students joining activists who were already sitting down to block Whitehall. When they got up and began to march away, police stopped them – and after a while they came back and blocked Whitehall again. Eventually they got up and marched back towards Parliament Square.

Protests were still continuing with much of Westminster at a standstill when I left for an unrelated protest in Carnaby Street (yes it’s still there, though it really belongs to the Sixties) by pro-Palestine activists in front of the Puma store there. The say Puma whitewashes Israel’s war crimes by sponsoring the apartheid Israel Football Association which includes clubs from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land, a war crime under international law.

Carnaby St Puma Boycott
Global Climate Strike Protest continues
Elephant & Brixton Global Climate Strike
Global Climate Strike Rally


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… 1 June 2013

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Eight years ago I was standing in a crowd of around a thousand Turkish people close to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park, where they had gathered to march to the Turkish Embassy to show solidarity with the growing protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and across Turkey against the Erdogan regime which has been called the ‘Turkish Spring’. It was a vibrant crowd, including a number of groups of football fans. I left as the march was about to start, and heard later than numbers had grown to around 4,000 by the time they reached the Embassy.

I was off to a protest march from Tate Britain to Parliament against the cull of badgers which began in the two pilot areas of Somerset and Gloucestershire on that day. The protesters say that the cull flies in the face of most scientific opinion and that it will involve considerable animal cruelty as those carrying out the shooting are largely untrained and many badgers will be only wounded and will then suffer a lingering death. Among those who travelled to London for the protest were many who will try to physically prevent the cull being carried out.

I also left this protest before it was over, and went to Southwark Cathedral to attend a memorial service for an old friend who died recently. After this I returned to Westminster to photograph Nick Griffin and a small group of BNP protesters who intended to gain publicity by exploiting the killing of Lee Rigby by laying flowers at the Cenotaph. There were several times as many media as BNP around the statue in Old Palace Yard.

The BNP were prevented from reaching the Cenotaph by a large anti-fascist protest. They hung around for well over 3 hours protected by hundreds of police.

The police made several batches of arrests to fill a couple of double-decker buses they had brought along, but then appeared to decide it was impossible to arrest all of the several thousand anti-fascists who had turned up determined to stop the BNP.

When the BNP finally gave up and left, the anti-fascists began to disperse, with some marching up Whitehall and there were a few short speeches. Quite a few people had been let through the lines of the police and protesters to lay wreaths, but the organised exploitation of the Woolwich killing by the BNP had been prevented.

Anti-Fascists Stop BNP Wreath Laying
BNP Exploiting Woolwich Killing Stopped
Cull Politicians, Not Badgers
London Supports Turkish Spring

No More Police Killings

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Sadly since this march on Saturday 27 Oct 2012 there have been more deaths in custody in police stations, prison and secure mental health institutions – and there has been little or no progress in getting justice.

The march was the fourteenth annual protest march in Whitehall by the United Families & Friends Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of people whose family members and friends have died while in the care of police, prisons and in psychiatric detention, and I’ve supported and photographed most of them. This years event, as always on the last Saturday of October like so many others, is taking place on-line starting at at 1:00pm on Saturday 31st October 2020 – more details here.

The march was impressive, making its way in silence at a snails pace down Whitehall, with police standing well back. When it came opposite Downing St there was an explosion of noise before they blocked the road to hold a rally at which various people spoke about the killing of their family members and the denial of justice. Singly many of the stories were horrific, but together they told a terrible story of police killing by illegal restraints, of failures of care as well as deliberate beating up in cells, and of the complete immunity provided by police lies, failures to investigate, destruction of evidence and a complaints system that aims to cover up police crimes.

Marcia Rigg who has been fighting to find out about her brother’s murder in Brixton Police Station in 2008 holds a list of over 3000 people who have died in custody since 1969
Sarah Campbell’s mother gave her life to campaigning for the Howard League for Penal Reform before committing suicide five years later on her daughter’s grave.
Demetre Fraser’s mother tells the truly unbelievable story police made up about her son”s death
Samantha Paterson, sister of Jason McPherson who died after being detained by police
Janet Alder speaks about the death of her brother Christopher, killed by police in Hull in 1992

I took many more pictures of the event, and you can see more of them on My London Diary in No More Police Killings, Time For Justice.


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.


Students Strike for climate justice

Sunday, March 8th, 2020

The young get it, and inspired by the actions of Greta Thunberg as well as the words of David Attenborough and the overwhemlming conclusions of scientists, school students around the world are coming out on the streets to demand yhat governments take the necessary action to decrease carbon dioxide emissions and act in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the IPCC report, though many recognise that even these are insufficient to deal with the problems we face.

Fridays for Future London started out as a small group, but now together with Youth Climate Strike and other groups there has been an impressive turnout for protests taking place during a Friday in school terms. Some came with parents or grandparents and there were a few other older protesters, but the great majority were with others from their schools and school classes.

Notable by their almost complete absence were the mass-produced placards of so many protests, produced by left groups such as the Socialist Workers Party or Socialist Party. Clearly the climate catastrophe is now a major inspiration for the work of school art departments as well as many obviously home produced posters and placards.

The protesters are deadly serious about the existential crisis they face, with messages on some posters addressed to the older generations who run our country like ‘YOU will die from old age – WE will die from Climate Change’ but there are many more humorous though also deadly serious.

If the world was run by the youth it would have a future. But unfortunately it is largely run by the old and extremely rich. Billionaires who largely can’t see beyond their immediate short-term interests and are doing very well from business as usual. They’ll be OK in the short-term when the sea-level rises or we get more and more storms and floods, when millions (or even billions) die in the majority world and thousands in countries like ours.

Of course in the longer term even the filthy rich will suffer. They are huge hoggers of resources, particularly those made by the poor who mine the metals, grow the crops etc. The world doesn’t need the rich, but the rich do need the rest of the world to support them.

More pictures at Students Strike for climate justice.


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.


Global Climate Strike in Whitehall

Monday, February 24th, 2020

I arrived back in central London to find Climate Strike protesters sitting down and blocking Whitehall and police threatening them with arrest, with several people being led away to waiting police vans.

There weren’t a huge number of protesters around, but soon they were joined by a large crowd of mainly school students who had marched up from Parliament Square.

Seeing a line of police across Whitehall they turned right down Horseguards Ave, going up Whitehall Court into Whitehall Place. Police formed a line across the road at the junction with Northumberland Ave and the students sat down on the road.

They had a few short speeches and chanted slogans for some time here, with the police trying for some reason to get them to get up and move. I couldn’t see why the police wanted them to move, as there is little traffic along this road and it was rather effectively keeping the students out of the way, but when the police began indicating they would make arrests, the crowd got up and moved away – to go back to Whitehall, a much more important route and sit down there to continue to block traffic.

By now I’d had enough of wandering around Whitehall, and it was looking likely that little more would take place, so I decided to leave them and go to another protest elsewhere.

More pictures: Global Climate Strike Protest continues

Trump protest – Whitehall rally

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

People had gathered in Trafalgar Square for the short march to a rally opposite Downing St where President Trump was meeting Prime Minister Theresa May.

There were many speeches from Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas, Frances O’Grady, Diane Abbott and other leading politicians and activists sending a clear message that President Trump is not welcome here. Corbyn is often said to be a weak speaker, but his speech here was cogent and delivered powerfully to a huge reception.

After the speeches the march continued, going around past the Ministry of Defence to the Embankment and then on to Parliament Square. By the time it reached there I’d had enough. Standing in one place as I was listening to speeches is bad for my legs now, inflaming my varicose eczema and I needed to sit down and rest. I left to sit on a train on my way home after a few minutes.

There were a handful of pro-Trump protesters who came and stood on the sidelines and shouted at the people marching past, some making the OK or Ring gesture adopted by white supremacists. Shortly after I left a woman – one of the Brexiteers who regularly make a nuisance of themselves outside Parliament – attacked the large baby Trump dirigible with a knife, puncturing it.

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘Red Brigade’ in blood-red robes also put in an appearance at Whitehall and in Parliament Square. Trump has taken the USA out of U.S. the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change and is a leading climate change denier and promoter of fossil fuels.

Many more pictures, including most of the speakers at Thousands protest against Trump.


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.


Blood of Our Children

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Extinction Rebellion had hoped that police would make arrests when they poured fake blood onto Whitehall, but the police just watched (and doubtless videod and photographed) the event. It was after all doing no real damage and the next shower of rain would wash the street clean if it had not already been hosed down.

It did seem a remarkably sensible approach by the police, though one that will have infuriated some of our politicians, with many on the right feeling the police are being too soft on protesters. But we enjoy a right to protest and it is something that the police often tell us they protect and facilitate, though sometimes I rather feel with a codicil “so long as you do it in a way that nobody much notices” with protest areas being designated at some distance from where protesters want to protest.

Many events in London disrupt traffic, including the many wreath-laying ceremonies just a few yards down Whitehall, as well as major events such as the Trooping of the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament, Royal weddings and the like. Many sporting events also have a major impact, with the London Marathon virtually shutting down the city for a day.

I’ve long thought and suggested that much of central London be pedestrianised and that all through routes should be removed. There have been a few minor improvements to areas such as Trafalgar Square, where traffic no longer flows beside the National Gallery, but I think the city could be much improved by more dramatic restrictions on traffic.

Whitehall could be restricted to emergency vehicles, pedestrians, buses and bikes, along with Westminster Bridge and an end put to though traffic in Parliament Square, which could then benefit from some much-neede landscaping – which could also provide adequiate security without t he current ugly tank traps.

Visually I found the pouring of blood just a little disappointing, one of those ideas that sounds good on paper but didn’t quite deliver in practice, at least for still photographers. It was perhaps too spread out and we were kept too far away and as always there were too many people taking photographs and finding various sometimes ingenious ways to get in the way. I’ve not seen any really interesting still pictures from it, though it looks better on some videos.

It was perhaps an event designed with video in mind, and I’ve sometimes thought I should go back to my roots and work (I did my first serious visual work as a student behind TV cameras, video cameras and a tiny bit of film) with video rather than persist with still photography. But I find making still images much more interesting and challenging.

More about the protest: Blood of Our Children – XR


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.

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.

To order prints or reproduce images