Streets Kitchen March with Homeless

Downing St to BBC, London. Fri 15 Apr 2016

Solidarity Not Charity banner at Oxford Circus
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Direct action group Streets Kitchen which which supports homeless on London streets hold a silence in memory of those who have died at Downing St before marching in the rain around central London in solidarity with London's growing homeless community. A giant banner called for 'No More Deaths On Our Streets'. They brought tents, sleeping bags and food intending to join the Kill the Housing Bill sleepout in Southwark and collected donations.

The event began with a rally opposite Downing St, and then moved on to Whitehall, blocking the roadway for the silence. Although many blamed the goverenment for the recent huge increase in homeless, London Labour COuncils like Southwark and Newham were also blamed for turning people out of council estates in order to 'regenerate' them largely for the benefit of private tenants paying much higher rents, as well as allowing private developers to evade their responsibilities to build 'affordable' or social housing.

The protesters then marched up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, where I missed a small group of them breaking away to briefly hang a banner from the top of the steps into the National Gallery. The rest of the protesters stopped to let off a blue smoke flare and then continued up the Charing Cross Rd, and they soon rejoined them. At Tottenham Court Rd the march turned down OXford St, blocking the west-bound lane.

The march halted at Oxford Circus, where more flares were set off, filling the area with red smoke and blocking all traffic for a few minutes. They then moved on towards the BBC, where a line of police blocked the entrance, and the marches kept on going up Portland Place. They had walked some way in the opposite direction from their final goal, Southwark Council's offices in Tooley St, and I had walked far enough, and left them.
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Vauxhall and Nine Elms

Vauxhall, London. Thu 14 Apr 2016

Much of the area between the river and the railway at Vauxhall and Nine Elms is now a huge building site
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Recent years have seen an unprecedented spurt in buildings in this area, much of which has been for long a fairly run-down industrial area. Although some riverside sites have long been developed as luxury flats, but they are now joined by many other tall buildings, changing the nature of the area completely. It is the largest regeneration scheme in central London since the Docklands.

The GLA London Plan of 2088, published months before Ken Livingstone's election defeat, identified the ‘Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea' area of 195 hectares (482 acres) as a major 'opportunity area'. Much of the more recent spurt appears to have been prompted by the decision in late 2008 to move the US Embassy to the area. A large and impressive building (which will have a moat for security replacing the ugly fencing of the current Grosvenor Square monstrosity) it will be surrounded by the towers of Embassy Gardens and other developments in the area. The lack of any real planning control has turned the area into a wild west for developers.

The images here include a number of extreme wide-angle views, some of which are presented in a 1.9:1 panoramic format. Others such as the image above, with a horizontal angle of view of around 145 degrees also have a large vertical angle of view and a standard aspect ratio. The pair of images above illustrates the difference in presentation.
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Make Tips Fair

Dept of Business, Innovation & Skills, London. Thu 14 Apr 2016

Ewa Jasiewicz, Dave Turnball and others at the Unite Hotel Workers protest
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The Unite Hotel Workers Branch protest at the Dept of Business, Innovation & Skills demanding minister Sajid Javid ends his procrastination and introduces mandatory rules on tipping in hotels and restuarants that give 100% of tips to staff. Currently many restuarant groups make deducations from service charges to cover administration costs, breakages, till shortages and customers who leave without paying.

The union said delays to a report over tipping malpractice promised last year by business secretary Sajid Javid was unacceptable. The union wants the Government to introduce mandatory rules on tipping so that waiting staff are given 100%. The restaurant groups that have come under fire for their tipping policies include Côte; Las Iguanas and Turtle Bay; PizzaExpress; and Bill's. Similar practices of management stealing tips in hotels are rife, and the union says the amounts concerned are much larger, and they want an end to this too.

Union regional boss Dave Turnbull said Javid had made “all the right noises”, but failed to take action and they fear he that lobbying and promises by highly profitable companies in the hospitality sector have led to an abandonment of upholding the rights of workers.
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End Killings in Colombia

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016

Shadows and banners on the North Terrace against massacres in Colombia
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The UK Congreso de los Pueblos and Marcha Patriotica supported by the Colombia Solidarity Campaign held an emergency protest in Trafalgar Square on the same day as protests in Colombia against political persecution and calling for an end to paramilitary killings. They want peace, human rights and democracy in Colombia.
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Party against Cameron

Downing St, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016

Two pigs are adamant that Cameron has to go
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By the end of the afternoon the mood at the Downing St party calling for David Cameron to resign had changed, with most of the protesters having left leaving a much smaller group continuing to block Whitehall. Some were dancing around a live group playing and it had become more a real street party. Police were still standing back and watching.
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Don't Criminalise Abortion in Poland

Polish Embassy, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016

People crowd to hand coathangers on the embassy door
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Several hundred Poles and supporters attended a rally at the Polish Embassy and hung wire coat-hangers, a traditional crude tool of back-street abortionists, on the embassy door and fence. The London protest followed large protests in Poland against the bill proposed by the Law and Justice Party (PiS) which will outlaw abortion in all cases, protecting the life of the unborn child even where this may cause extreme distress or even death for the mother.
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Stop Grand National horse slaughter

Channel 4, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016

Protesters call the Grand National a National Disgrace and demand it ends
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Animal welfare protesters gathered outside Channel 4's London HQ to protest against the cruelty to horses involved in the Grand National and other similar races. Already 4 horses have been killed this year in the current races at Aintree, and at least 46 following accidents at the annual meeting there since 2000. More protesters were expected to arrive later.
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Cameron must go!

Downing St, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016

People party on Whitehall outside Downing St with the message 'Cameron Must GO'
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Around 2,000 protesters held a rally blocking Whitehall outside Downing St, calling on Cameron to resign because of the lack of trust about his financial affairs following the revelations in the Panama papers. Many protesters had come in party mode, with flowered garlands, Panama hats and suitably Central American dress or pig flavoured posters.
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March to Save Lambeth's Libraries

Herne Hill, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016

The marchers included the twins who hit the headlines over the occupation
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Over a thousand campaigners, led by the occupiers of the Carnegie Library, marched from there via the Minet library, also closed on March 31, to a rally at Brixton. The campaigners who were forced to leave the Carnegie by an injunction obtained by Lambeth council, object strongly to LB Lambeth's plans to replace community-based libraries by fee-charging gyms with just a token few books in an unstaffed lounge area.
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Carnegie Library Occupation Ends

Carnegie Library, Herne Hill, London. Sat 9 Apr 2016
The gates are opened and the occupiers emerge to applause
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The remaining occupiers of the Carnegie Library since March 31st fighting Lambeth council's plans to turn the building into a fee-charging gym run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd with an just unstaffed lounge with books emerged this morning to a huge welcome from over a thousand campaigners. Their occupation has given the campaign national news coverage and huge support from around the country.
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Bursary or Bust Die-In & Rally

Dept of Health, Whitehall, London. Wed 6 Apr 2016

Sisters Uncut at the die-in outside the Dept of Health
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Supporters of the 'Bursaries or Bust' campaign by student nurses against the axing of NHS Student Bursaries stage a 'die-in' and rally on the yard in front of the Ministry of Health.

NHS students need bursaries as their long hours of study and placements prevent them taking part-time jobs while studying; they deserve them because their placements involve real work in hospitals and are a vital source of labour for the NHS. Cutting bursaries will stop many more mature entrants and those from less affluent from training to become nurses and midwives.
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Bursary or Bust march to Dept of Health

London. Wed 6 Apr 2016

Danielle Tiplady of Bursary Or Bust leads the march in front of Florence Nightingale over Westminster Bridge
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People at the picket outside St Thomas's Hospital marched from the Junior Doctors picket line at St Thomas' Hospital across Westminster Bridge to the Department of Health in Whitehall led by DPAC and student nurses from the 'Bursaries or Bust' campaign to take part in a rally and die-in starting at noon.

As well as the student nurses the march included Sisters Uncut, trade unionists, students, medical professionals and DPAC members. The junior doctors on the picket stayed behind until their picket ended at noon before coming to join the protest on Whitehall.
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Support for Junior Doctor's Picket

St Thomas' Hospital, London. Wed 6 Apr 2016

Sisters Uncut watch from behind a wall while one of them is speaking behind me as I take the picture
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Supporters, including Sisters Uncut, trade unionists, students, student nurses, medical professionals and DPAC members join the picket line on the southern end of Westminster Bridge to show their solidarity in the fight against the imposition of a new contract which they say is sexist, racist and classist, and aimed at easing the takeover of the NHS by private healthcare companies which is currently taking place. The contract will reduce safety in hospitals, removing safeguards on overwork and unsocial hours.

There were speeches from the Junior Doctors and others including Sara Tomlinson of Lambeth Teachers Association who announced that the NUT would be coordinating its strikes with further actions by the doctors, and Danielle Tiplady, President of King’s College London Nursing and Midwifery Society and an organiser of the 'Bursary or Bust' campaign against the government's intention to axe NHS student bursaries. Paula Peters of DPAC pledged their support too as well as a speaker for Sisters Uncut. Cuts and privatisation and the effects of the proposed contract will particularly effect the disabled and women in general, both as workers in the NHS and as users of its services.

The picket by the Junior Doctors which had begun at 8am was to finish at noon. A little before that the others supporting the protest left to march to a protest beginning then at the Dept of Health in Whitehall.
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Immigration Bill - racist attack on human rights

Lunar House, Croydon. Tue 5 Apr 2016

'Blood on British Imperialist Hands' : a poster with red handprints behind MfJ speaker Anna Pichierri's hand
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The protest outside Lunar House, the Home Office UK Visas & Immigration HQ in Croydon, condemns the Immigration Bill as a racist attack on civil rights, introducing unprecedented powers to detain people, seize property and earnings and invade privacy, and making spying on each other a public duty. Its deportation of asylum seekers before proper process will be in breach of the Human Rights Act and international agreements.

The protest was organised by the Croydon Revolutionary Communist Group and supported by other organisations including the All African Women's Group, Black Women's Rape Action Project, Class War, Defend Asylum Seekers and Migrant Workers, the IWGB, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary, the Revolutionary Communist Group and Women Against Rape.

There was an open invitation for people to speak and many took advantage of the opportunity. Most of them stressed the racist nature of our present immigration legislation and its implementation, and that the current bill makes this worse.

Britain through its empire grew vastly on its exploitation of resources from overseas, and continues through the activities of multinational to extract considerable wealth from its former colonies and other countries. The impoverishment that this creates is one of the driving forces behind people wanting to come to this country, and the wealth creates jobs here for them to do.

Behind most of the conflicts around the world are the economic interests of the west and our multinational companies, interfering behind the scenes in their politics and selling them arms in an attempt to maintain our economic dominance.

People leave their homes and become migrants and asylum seekers out of desperation and our country has a moral obligation to accept them which we are currently largely refusing to recognise, instead putting up barriers which are immoral and at times seem against international law.

New rules mean that those allowed to come and work here, for example as nurses, will face deportation after six years if they are earning less than £35,000; the Royal College of Nurses say that 6,620 nurses will be liable to be deported by 2020. And for some years many families have been broken up with income limits preventing people bringing in overseas spouses unless they earn £18,000 - and more for each dependent child. It seems to many of us a clear breach of our human right to family life.
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International Pillow Fight Day

Kennington Park, London. Sat 2 Apr 2016

The pillow fight in full swing
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Hundreds come armed with pillows to take part in a giant pillow fight despite official attempts to stop this annual event, moved at 24 hours notice to Kennington Park. A few left when police told them the event was cancelled, but most stayed to enjoy the fight.

This was the 9th year of similar massive pillow fights in over 50 other cities around the world inspired by the urban playground movement, claiming cities as public spaces for people.

It isn't quite clear why the police and other authorities in London have tried to prevent this event happening. It does create a little mess, but the amount of cleaning up required isn't great, confined to a fairly small area compared with many other events. Feathers and down aren't a real problem to clear, and in a park they would probably mainly blow away even if left - after all there are quite a few feathers that are naturally shed in our parks, and they bio-degrade.

I'm not sure whether it is just a kill-joy reaction, about so many people obviously having a great deal of fun - and perhaps the resolutely anti-capitalist nature of the event upsets some.

Probably the police would talk about safety issues, but these are really pretty minimal. It isn't an event without rules and I've seen no serious injuries on the several occasions I've attended - certainly less dangerous than a football or rugby match. The important parts of the rules are kept, with self-policing of dangerous activities. Although I got considerably battered around the head, chest and lower as I got in close to take pictures, most people apologised, as the rules do say not to hit photographers - and the one time today I was deliberately attacked by a man with a pillow, others around immediately protested on my behalf, telling him it was not allowed.

There is a health and safety issue, which is around the dust when feathers start flying. They are not meant to, but it seems inevitable; there is only so much battering the sturdiest of pillows can take. And of course those taking part - and photographers in particular - revel in the air being full of them. The truly health-conscious should wear masks, but I just make sure to keep my mouth shut and breathe through my nose. But it does still irritate my eyes.

Trafalgar Square, the venue for the last few years, was today occupied by a much more static game show, a giant monopoly board celebrating the UK's record in producing video games. It was pretty boring, and hardly interactive - about all you could do was have your picture taken next to a giant plastic car. A trade production, it was really the opposite of the active fun of pillow-fight day.

The organisers had rescheduled the pillow fight for one of central London's parks, but those are Royal Parks, and the police soon made it clear to the organisers that it would not be allowed on that sacred turf. So we were left in the dark about where it would take place until Friday evening when the location was announced.

I was a little late arriving, having travelled down from Walthamstow, and was surprised to see nothing happening. On the path at the side were are few people talking to police and park officials, while scattered around a wide area were several hundred people in small groups, some sitting holding pillows and others keeping them in their bags.

Obviously things were at some point going to kick off, and the handful of police were at least 50 officers short of what would be needed to stop it, but it appeared no one was prepared to make the first move. Another photographer asked me if I had a whistle, and I took one out of my camera bag, but decided against blowing it. Then a group of 3 young women near us got up and started a pillow fight. Slowly other groups began to follow them, and soon there was a heaving mass in the middle of the park - and the police walked away.

It was a little over 10 minutes before the first pillow broke and feathers began to flow, but after another ten there was an area deep in feathers in which some women and children were playing, soon surrounded by a whole ring of photographers getting in each other's way.
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Butterfields Won't Budge Pavement Protest

Walthamstow, London. Sat 2 Apr 2016

Butterfields tenants and supporters on the march through Walthamstow
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Tenants from the Butterfields estate in Walthamstow and supporters held a rally and march, determined to fight attempts to evict them. They say 'Butterfields Won't Budge'.

The protesters met up around several protest stalls at the corner of Walthamstow High St and Hoe St, where there were speeches from a number of tenants and supporters, including from the Socialist Party, Green Party Housing Spokesperson Samir Jeraj, local trade unionists and a Labour local councillor. As he commented, local MP Stella Creasy had not come to the event, and he suggested she was not really standing up for the tenants. A month or so ago in her awards for best and worst estate agents in the borough Creasy did give an special award for the 'most outrageous behaviour' to the charity, Glasspools, 'for the mass eviction of the residents of the Butterfields Estate', but they are fighting not to be evicted.

Until the end of 2015 the homes on the estate were owned by the Glasspool Charitable Trust and gave relatively affordable tenancies. Then without any notice all 63 homes were sold off to a private developer and have now been put up for auction as vacant properties with the tenants still inside; some have already received eviction notices complete with threats of expensive legal claims if they do not leave quietly. But many of the residents are determined not to move - and would find it impossible to afford property at market rents - or even so-called affordable rents - in the area.

Unfortunately for the tenants, there is little or no security of tenure now for those in private rented property. Their Butterfields Won't Budge campaign,with an on-line petition and Facebook page, has gained a considerable publicity, and they hope that the rising public opinion may force the new owners to change course, as happened at the New Era Estate, with possibly the estate being sold on to a new owner who would treat them more fairly.

Walthamstow has long been seen as a hotspot for gentrification, with articles about the rising property values and the area has the highest concentration of estate agents in the entire universe, with the march down Hoe St starting off past a whole block of them. Leading the march and the chanting of slogans was trade union activist and anti-cuts campaigner Nancy Taaffe, a local resident who stood as TUSC candidate against Stella Creasy. There were around 70 people on the march with a smaller group staying with the stalls on the High St.

At the Bakers Arms junction the march turned to the east down Lea Bridge Rd, walking down a little under half a mile to a green just around the corner from Butterfields where the was another rally. I took a couple of pictures of Butterfields before hurrying away to catch a bus back to Walthamstow
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Ban Canned Hunting of Lions

Westminster, London. Sat 2 Apr 2016

A rally after the march to Trafalgar Square called for an end to the breeding of lions for captive trophy hunting
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Protesters in London marched to a rally in Trafalgar Square as a part of the Global March for Lions, calling for an end to the breeding of lions for petting zoos and the hunting of captive lions bred for slaughter on farms in Southern Africa by tourist trophy hunters.

I met the protesters as they marched away from Downing St to go for a rally on the North Terrace in Trafalgar Square, but could not stay long as I was on my way elsewhere.
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Christians protest Lahore bombing

Pakistan High Commission, London. Sat 2 Apr 2016

A deputation takes a wreath and petition to the High Commission
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Pakistani Christians and others held a rally and delivered a petition and a wreath to the Pakistan High Commission. Others joined them, including Nepalese and British Christians in calling for an end to the blasphemy laws and for the protection of all religious minorities in Pakistan.

The bomb, detonated by a suicide bomber from Jamaat ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban faction was aimed at Christians picnicking in the park during their Easter celebrations, including many women and children. Christians are only a small minority in Pakistan, and most of those in the park were Muslims. The bomb killed at least 75 and injured 280, with most victims being women and children. Of those killed, 14 were said to be Christians and the rest Muslims.

One of the speakers at the event was Lyn Julius, who co-founded Harif, an association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. She spoke about Fishel Benkhald, apparently the one remaining Jew in Pakistan, fighting to have his religion stated on his Pakistani passport, as well as for the restoration of Karachi's Jewish cemetery.

I left as they packed up before going on to Downing St.
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Act Up protests Gilead's naked greed

Gilead Sciences, Holborn, London. Fri 1 Apr 2016


'Lobbyists' in the window of Gilead's offices spell out the word 'GREED' in 'Pharma Greed Kills'
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Naked protesters from Act Up London stand in the front window of the offices of American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences with letters on their backs reading 'GREED'. They call for huge cuts in prices of drugs which cost the NHS up to 1000 times the cost of production - around £39,000 per patient for a 12 week course of hepatitis C pill Harvoni. They say prices reflect naked greed far beyond anything justified by research costs.

Protesters on the pavement outside held placards and two large banners, one at each side of the naked group, so that together the protest read '#Pharma Greed Kills'.

The London protest was part of an international day of action with protests across six continents. The hashtag #PharmaGreedKills trended internationally.
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London Images

London, January 2016
coming soon


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my london diary index
 

Apr 2016

Streets Kitchen March with Homeless
Vauxhall and Nine Elms
Make Tips Fair
End Killings in Colombia
Party against Cameron
Don't Criminalise Abortion in Poland
Stop Grand National horse slaughter
Cameron must go!
March to Save Lambeth's Libraries
Carnegie Library Occupation Ends
Bursary or Bust Die-In & Rally
Bursary or Bust march to Dept of Health
Support for Junior Doctor's Picket
Immigration Bill - racist attack on human rights
International Pillow Fight Day
Butterfields Won't Budge
Ban Canned Hunting of Lions
Christians protest Lahore bombing
Act Up protests Gilead's naked greed

London Images

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