Posts Tagged ‘Zita Holbourne’

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!

Saturday, July 16th, 2022

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out! The main event I covered on Saturday 16th July was a march and rally organised by the the People’s Assembly and Stand Up To Racism as an emergency demonstration after the Brexit referendum result a few weeks earlier. But I also photographed three other events, two on the edges of this and the first totally unrelated.


Falun Dafa march against Chinese repression – Regent St

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!

I hadn’t been aware that practitioners of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong), an advanced Buddhist practice of moral rectitude, meditation and exercise founded by Mr Li Hongzhi in 1992, were to be marching through London to protest the continuing torture and repression they have experience in China since 1999, and simply came across them as I walked up Regent Street towards the BBC where the People’s Assembly march was gathering.

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!

I think I had first photographed Falun Gong when they took part in the Westminster New http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2004/01/jan.htm Year’s Day Parade back in 2004 but I had taken pictures of them quite a few times since then, both at major events and the regular protests that they hold. They have maintained a small permanent 24 hour protest opposite the Chinese Embassy in Portland Place for many years.

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!

In China, Falun Dafa have been subjected to forced labour, psychiatric abuse, torture and even execution to supply human organs for Chinese transplant operations since they were targeted in an antireligious campaign by the Chinese Communist Party in 1999. In earlier years the party had encouraged the movement and the spiritual practices from which Falung Dafa emerged as an extremist form. While Falun Dafa is a cult with some beliefs that endanger its adherents and many would find abhorrent this in no way justifies their criminal persecution in China.

Falun Dafa march against Chinese repression


End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out! – BBC, Regent St

The People’s Assembly and Stand Up To Racism march had chosen to start outside the BBC, as I wrote “in the forlorn hope that they might for once cover a protest in Britain properly. Many marching and at the rally showed great support for Jeremy Corbyn as our next prime minister – and the only hope of a future for the Labour Party.” Unfortunately that was not to be – and we are suffering now.

Many of those urging the public to vote to leave Europe in the months leading up to the referendum had represented this as a way we could control immigration to this country, and had deliberately stirred up racist fears. The result had been an increase in racist and other hate attacks, particularly directed against refugees and asylum seekers. Many were on the march to support the human and civil rights and show solidarity with refugees and asylum seekers against the upsurge in racism and hate attacks.

The Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, first announced in 2012 by then Home Secretary Theresa May was cited, according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Office_hostile_environment_policy Wikipedia, “as one of the harshest immigration policies in the history of the United Kingdom, and has been widely criticised as inhumane, ineffective, and unlawful” with the UN Human Rights Council finding it fostered xenophobia and the Equality and Human Rights Commission finding it broke equalities law – and of course it led to the Windrush scandal.

I took pictures of the people preparing to march and walked with it a short distance down Regent Street before leaving to cover two other events before returning to the rally at the end of the march.

End Austerity, No to Racism, Tories Out!


Cleaners Flash Mob at CBRE London HQ – Marylebone

One of the groups taking part in the march were United Voices of the World supporters including some of those taking part in the long strike – then on its 38th day – at 100 Wood Street in the City of London.

Ian Hodson, BFAWU

They had told me they were going to leave the march for a short ‘flash mob’ at the headquarters of the CBRE who run 100 Wood Street which was around a quarter of a mile from the march route.

I’d stayed behind for a few minutes photographing the marchers before I left to run after them. When I arrived they had already gone into t he office foyer and were protesting inside, but the doors had been locked. I took a few pictures through the large glass doors but was then able to get inside for a minute or two as some started to leave. After taking a few pictures of the group in front of the offices I ran off to find a small protest by the EDL which had been organised to oppose the day’s big march with a rally in Hyde Park.

Cleaners Flash Mob at CBRE London HQ


EDL march and rally – Hyde Park

Few EDL members had turned up for the event, well under a hundred, but they were easy to find as there were several times as many police who had turned up to prevent any trouble between them and anti-fascists and were marching as a loose cordon around them down Park Lane.

A few anti-fascist had come to oppose them, but most had left to join the main march after seeing how few of the EDL had turned up. Police escorted the EDL into the park, where they had set up a pen for their protest, but they refused to march into it. After some heated arguments with police the the EDL stewards calmed down the others and they agreed to hold their rally in front of the pen instead of in it.

There was a small incident when a woman walked past on the opposite side of the protest to me and shouted ‘Black Lives Matter’; stewards rushed towards her and manhandled her rather roughly away while a large group of police stood by watching but failed to intervene.

EDL march and rally


Peoples Assembly/Stand Up to Racism rally – Parliament Square

Jeremy Corbyn was there on a hat

I took the tube to Westminster and joined the crowd relaxing after the march in a sunny Parliament Square. Whereas the Hyde Park rally had been full of bitterness and hate, here the mood was much warmer and positive, though there was considerable anger expressed against government policies by the many speakers.

Zita Holbourne of BARAC and PCS holds up her ‘We Stand with Jeremy Corbyn’ poster

But while I’d been kept out out the small crowd in Hyde Park by police and stewards, here I was free to walk around and people were happy to be photographed. It was a totally different atmosphere.

I didn’t photograph every speaker, but you can see I think thirteen of them in my pictures from the event, as well as many pictures of the others standing or sitting on the grass to listen to them. Perhaps the most interesting was an asylum seeker, brought to the microphone by Antonia Bright from Movement for Justice, who spoke briefly about her experiences in our racist asylum system.

Peoples Assembly/Stand Up to Racism rally


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Tax Robbery, Racism & John Lewis

Monday, March 21st, 2022

Tax Robbery, Racism & John Lewis. Saturday 21st March 2015 was another busy day for me in London, covering protests against the criminal activities of UK banks, a large march and rally against racism in the UK (and a few racists opposing this) and customers of John Lewis calling on the company to treat its cleaners fairly.


Great British Tax Robbery – HSBC, Regent St.

UK Uncut campaigners arrived at the HSBC Regent St branch dressed as detectives and robbers to highlight the bank’s crimes in causing the financial crash and tax dodging, which have led to drastic cuts in vital public services and welfare and attempt a ‘Citizen’s Arrest’.

UK Uncut had a clear message for both HSBC and the government, accusing them of being criminals:

The government told us they’d “protect the poorest and most vulnerable”. They said “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the brunt of the cuts”. And what have we seen? Dismantling the NHS and wrecking the welfare state. Cutting schools, youth clubs, sure start centres, domestic violence refuges and libraries. Slashing local council budgets. Attacking disabled people with inhumane ‘work capability assessments’ and cuts to vital benefits. Removing access to justice through legal aid cuts. Allowing the big six energy companies to push people into fuel poverty. Cutting jobs, wages and pensions. Selling off social housing and moving people away from their communities. Driving hundreds of thousands into food banks and making families choose between heating or eating

My London Diary, March 2015

The bank closed a few minutes before the protesters arrived and kept its doors shut as the protesters’ ‘forensic team’ chalked around ‘crime victims’ on the ground and put crime scene tape around the area, sealing off the door with a banner. There was a speech from a NHS campaigner from East London about the effects of the cuts on the NHS and ‘criminals’ with HSBC on their chests posed for pictures. After a few minutes the protest was ended as many of those taking part were, like me, joining the Anti-Racism protest.

Great British Tax Robbery


Stand Up to Racism March – BBC to Trafalgar Square

Thousands came to the Stand Up to Racism march from the BBC to Trafalgar Square to reject the scapegoating of immigrants, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and to celebrate the diversity of Britain, with the message ‘Migrants are Welcome Here!

The march began at the BBC, who campaigners accuse of having a policy of ignoring protests in the UK, especially those against government policies – such as the racist hounding of immigrants under their ‘hostile environment’.

Among those marching were DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts. Government policies have also targeted disabled people, cutting benefits and subjecting them to unfair ‘fitness to work’ tests which largely ignore medical evidence.

Stand Up to Racism March


Britain First Protests anti-Racist March – Piccadilly Circus

A small and rather sad extreme right-wing group stood on the steps around Eros waving flags and shouting insults at the anti-racist marchers as the thousands marched past. It was a reminder of the kind of bigotry the great majority were marching against.

Some of the marchers paused to shout back at them, while others followed the advice of the march stewards and ignored the small group. There were a few scuffles but generally police kept the two groups apart, though later I learnt that after I had gone past a group of anti-fascists had seized the Britain First banner.

Britain First Protests anti-Racist March


Stand Up to Racism Rally – Trafalgar Square

Lee Jasper holds up a large poster responding to Trevor Phillips saying he is not a criminal, murderer or thief

Several thousand who had marched to ‘Stand up to Racism’ through London stayed on to listen to speeches at a rally in Trafalgar Square.

Speakers included Owen Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Zita Holbourne, Omer El Hamdoon, Lee Jasper and many others, whose photographs you can see on My London Diary.

Stand Up to Racism Rally


John Lewis customers support Living Wage – Oxford St

John Lewis is a company proud of its history and its reputation as a company based on its constitution as the UK’s largest employee owned business with both John Lewis and Waitrose owned in Trust by its 80,000 ‘partners’. They say everyone who works in its stores are not just employees, but a partners in the company, and in almost every year they enjoy a share in its profits.

Everyone who works there, except the cleaners who play a vital role in the proper running of the stores. John Lewis gets out of making them partners by using other companies to employ them and provide the cleaning as a service, choosing its cleaning company through competitive tendering. Cleaning companies cut wages and conditions of service such as sick pay, maternity pay, pensions, holiday pay to the bone – usually the absolute legal minimum – so they can put in low tenders and still make good profits. They exploit the workers – a largely migrant workforce with limited job opportunities – while John Lewis can claim it isn’t them who are doing so and try to maintain their reputation as a good employer.

For some years the cleaners have been protesting to get a living wage and also for John Lewis to recognise their responsibility as the actual company the cleaners are providing a service to. They want to be treated equally with the others who work in the stores, rather than the second-class employees they are now. The least John Lewis could do would be to insist on contractors paying the living wage and giving employees decent conditions of service as a condition of tender, but they had refused to take any responsibility.

Many customers of John Lewis – a very middle-class group – back the cleaners’ case for fair and equal treatment, and a few had come to hand out flyers and talk to shoppers to back their case in a very restrained protest. One of them told me it was the first time she had ever taken part in any protest. They were supported by a few members of the cleaners union, the IWGB, who had brought some of their posters.

John Lewis customers support Living Wage


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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.