Posts Tagged ‘Windrush Square’

Black Lives Matter – Brixton 9th July 2016

Friday, July 9th, 2021

Five years ago on July 5th 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37 year old black man selling videos outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana was shot and killed by police at close range. The incident was filmed by several bystanders and their mobile phone video clip shocked and enraged viewers around the world.

The following day, July 6th, 32-year-old Philando Castile was driving with his girlfriend in a suburb od St Paul, Minnesota, when police stopped the car and asked to see his driving licence. His girlfriend video the events which ended in Castile being shot five times at point-blank range, dying 20 minutes later. The officer who fired was later charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm but found not guilty by a jury.

These two cases provoked protests around the world, including this event in Brixton. Shootings of people by police remain common in the USA at around a thousand a year and Black people are around two and a half times as likely to be shot as White. These cases stood out both because the two men shot were not involved in any crime but also because there was clear evidence from the videos that there was no justification for the shootings. Later the families were to be awarded compensation running into millions of dollars in both cases.

Although policing in this country is generally not carried out at the point of a gun, with an average of around 3 people killed by police shooting a year, there have been many cases of deaths at the hands of police, again disproportionally affecting Black people. As I wrote in my account of the protest:

Brixton Police station has been the scene of a number of black deaths in custody, including that of Sean Rigg, Wayne Douglas and Ricky Bishop, and one of the organisers who spoke wore a t-shirt listing just a few of those who have been killed by police in the UK, with young black men in particular being far more likely to die after arrest – or to be shot rather than arrested. Last year police stripped the tree in front of the police station of its deaths in custody memorials on the day of the annual march in central London against deaths in custody.

My London Diary

The crowd that gathered in Windrush Square (aka Windswept Square after Lambeth Councils re-landscaping to make it deliberately less hospitable) was largely black, and the protest had been called by local black organisers. Most of those who spoke talked about their own experiences of police racism in the local community as well as the shootings that had provoked the protest.

So many people wanted to have their say that the event continued for several hours, eventually going on to march up the Brixton Road to Brixton Police Station and bringing traffic to a standstill for several hours.

But it had come at the end of a long day for me and I had gone home well before that. Earlier in the day I’d photographed protests against the nonsensical ‘Garden Bridge’ across the Thames and the demolition of council estates by Labour Councils, both in Waterloo, in Hackney against domestic violence, at Downing St against Brexit, the scapegoating of immigrants and Islamophobia and a Green Park Brexit picnic and I was exhausted. You can find more about the Black Lives Matter protest and these other events on My London Diary.

Brixton stands with Black victims
Green Park Brexit Picnic
Europe, Free Movement and Migrants
East End Sisters Uncut-Domestic Violence
Housing Protest at ‘Progress’ conference
Garden Bridge ‘Progress’ protest


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.


Brixton march against government racism

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Brixton in south London has a special place in the history of our country, as it was in this area that the first wave of post-war Black migrants found homes and jobs, with those who had arrived on the Empire Windrush being given temporary accomodation a short distance away in an underground bunker on Clapham Common.

Brixton had the nearest government Labour Exchange where they went in search of jobs, and many found them in local businesses and found cheap lodgings in the area, and in time brought their families to the area. Soon this working class area of London was developing the more vibrant and colourful culture that now, together with its location close to central London and good transport links makes it a prime target for gentrification.

Brixton has also been a flashpoint for social unrest, with riots (or uprisings) in 1981, 1985 and 1991 after heavy-handed and racist policing as well as in the London riots of 2011. The 1981 riots came at a time of high unemployment, particularly among the local African-Caribbean community who felt under attack by excessive policing and also by lurid press stereotyping of them, their culture and the area.

I began going to Brixton regularly in 1991, when a photography collective I had links with moved from near Clapham Junction in Battersea to the heart of the area on the edge of Brixton market and reconstituted itself as Photofusion. For years I went to most of their exhibition openings as well as visiting to take prints in to their picture library, which was then an important source for images of British social life. Photofusion is now in new premises but just a short distance away, though I think all the people I knew there are gone and it’s a year or two since I last visited the gallery.

But I have continued going to Brixton, mainly to photograph protests and events, particularly at Windrush Square, outside Lambeth Town Hall and at Brixton Police Station. And on September 14th I found myself again in Brixton, beginning at Windrush Square. This is a rather bleak and windswept area in front of the Ritzy Cinema, the Tate Library and the Black Cultural Archives, with a busy road along its west edge, ‘landscaped‘ a few years back by Lambeth Council apparently with the aim of making it a less attractive place for people to gather.

Here’s what I wrote about the protest on My London Diary:

Movement for Justice and Lambeth Unison Black Workers’ Group protest in Brixton against the continuing persecution of Windrush family members and other migrants, calling for freedom of movement, the closure of immigration detention prisons, and an end to Brexit which is being used to whip up immigrant-bashing and nationalism to establish a Trump-style regime in Britain under Boris Johnson.

After speeches in Windrush Square they moved to Brixton Market where wide support was shown by the public for speeches. Before they left Green MEP for London Scott Ainslie spoke about his LDNlovesEU campaign. They then marched up to Atlantic Road and back along the main street, Brixton Road for a final short rally in Windrush Square.

More pictures at Brixton anti-racist march.


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.


Afrikans demand reparations

Monday, January 6th, 2020

Time for a little more colour on >Re:PHOTO, and looking back to warmer and sunnier weather at the start of August last year.

The Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March has been an annual event in London http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2014/08/aug.htm#rastafari since 2014, which was the centenary of the foundation by Marcus Garvey of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Jamaica. Garvey had spent the previous two years working as a journalist and studying in London and founded the UNIA as as a means of uniting all of Africa and its diaspora into “one grand racial hierarchy.” The organisers of that first march intended it as a one-off event, but others took over insisting it should be annual. This was the first time I’d managed to cover it since 2014.

Garvey chose the date as 1 August 1834 was Emancipation day, following the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, when slavery was ended in the British Empire. Claims for reparations for descendants of those enslaved by the Atlantic Slave Trade came to the fore in 1999 when the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission called for a payment of $777 trillion to Africa within 5 years, and in 2004 a case was brought and lost against Lloyds of London and Jamaican Rastafarians made a claim for £72,5bn for Europe to resettle of 500,000 Jamaicans back in Africa which was rejected. Other claims have been lodged on behalf of Guyana, Antigua, Barbuda and Barbados.

I felt a little apprehensive at photographing this event, and just a few people have shown a little hostility towards me, though many more have been welcoming. Anyone who has grown up white in the UK has obviously benefited from the historic proceeds of slavery (as so do those of any other origin living here) but I’m fairly sure that my ancestors were not among those carrying out and profiting from the trade. They will have been being exploited by that same class that was enslaving Africans; some thrown off their lands by the Highland Clearances to make way for sheep. Others will I think have been at the heart of the emancipation movement. They will have received nothing of the huge financial compensation that was paid to the enslaving class, which created a debt which members of the British public were paying off through taxation until 2015.

This year the march was divided into 9 blocs, although in practice there was a great deal of overlap. One of these was the Ubuntu – Non-Afrikan Allies Bloc which included Extinction Rebellion XR Connecting Communities.

While I think there is a firm moral case for reparations, I think the demands are unlikely to impress European or American governments, certainly not on the scale being claimed. And I wonder if the demand actually deflects from a more important need for decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean as well as other areas of the majority world, reclaiming national assets from the various multi-nationals that are now continuing the exploitation of the continent.

I left the march as it made its way through Brixton towards Parliament where there was to be another protest rally in Parliament Square.

Afrikans demand reparations


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.