Police seize Class War banner

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 12 Mar 2015
Police pull the 'Political Leaders' banner out of the hands of the demonstrators
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Class War protested outside One Commercial St against separate doors for rich and por. When they refused to put away their banner calling political party leaders 'f***ing wankers'*, citing their right to freedom of speech, police seized it, arresting one man who had kept hold of it.

The protest began as usual, with protesters standing in front of the rich door with their Lucy Parsons and Political Leaders banners, and a couple of police officers standing in front of the rich door. The protesters got out their flaming torches, lighting several of them, and a green flare rolled across the pavement. An officer came across to look at it, but sensibly left it to burn out harmlessly; another questioned some of the protesters trying to find out who had lit it, but apparently nobody knew anything about it, and the protest continued.

Then, after the Political Leaders banner had been on display for around 15 minutes, two officers came up and demanded it be put away as it was offensive. When asked if anyone had complained about it they said that they found it offensive. There was some argument and when the protesters refused to remove it, the officers then warned individually each person holding it that they were committing an offence and might be arrested, after which they seized the banner.

There was then a short struggle as three officers came and pulled the banner out of the hands of those holding it. One man, who had kept holding on to it longest was then led a few yards away and police talked to him. After a few minutes, with other protesters shouting to let him go, they handcuffed him.

Police reinforcements, including a senior officer, then arrived. Protesters complained to him about the seizure of the banner and holding of a protester, and after listening for a few seconds he went to talk with the officers holding the man. They then led him away down the alley past the poor door and then out along the road at the rear of the building to a waiting police van in Commercial St, which drove away.

Later I learnt that the police are keeping hold of the banner as evidence if the man arrested decides to go to trial rather than accept a fixed penalty. Over two weeks later they still had it. Probably police have had legal advice that a prosecution is likely to be unsuccesful.

The protest outside the rich door continued with one less banner for the usual hour.
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*I'm not offended by the actual text on the banner, but my ISP could be - or use it as a pretext should they wish to terminate my contract. The banner might be thought to be in poor taste, but I find it hard to think it offends anyone. It certainly amused many who saw it - and many clearly agreed with the sentiments. Police in East London who made a man take down Class War posters at the last election which had pictures of the party leaders and the word 'Wankers' on them later wrote a letter to apologise and paid compensation.

Viking longship invades Tate steps

Tate Britain, Millbank, London. Sat 7 Mar 2015
A very wide view of the Viking Longship on the steps of the Tate
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'Art Not Oil' activists took their Viking longship and banners to the steps of Tate Britain from the climate protest to tell the Tate to stop giving BP, a major world polluter, huge positive publicity for relatively minor sponsorship of shows.

The Longship first sailed to the British Museum when they were having a BP sponsored show on the Vikings, but was also on September's climate march. The plastic oil spills are a lot easier to clean up than the real ones BP has created such as Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, and which could be truly catastrophic in the Arctic.
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Climate Change Rally

College Green, Westminster, London. Sat 7 Mar 2015

Tina-Louise Rothery and others from 'Frack Free Lancashire at the rally - 'And the Oven gloves are Off'
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The Time to Act climate change march through London ended on College Green, close to the Houses of Parliament where speakers from various groups including the anti-fracking nanas from Lancashire spoke and performed to an audience filling the area.

Among the speakers were John Sauven of Greenpeace UK, Kat Hobbs from CAAT, Bert Wander of Avaaz, Pete the Temp, Fatima-Zahara Ibrahim of the Youth Climate Coalition, Pete Deane from Biofuelwatch, Guy Shrubsole from Friends of the Earth, FBU leader Matt Wrack, Rumana Hashem an evironmental activist from Bangladesh, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Tina-Louise Rothery who spoke toegther with a Frack Free Lancashire crowd, Dennis Fernando, UAF, Chris Baugh, PCS, John McDonnell, MP, and comedian Francesca Martinez. A woman from Paris (whose name I missed) invited us all to go there to protest at the climate talks there this December, and a 12 year-old read an excellent speech she had prepared.

There was then a performance by a large choir, Voices United, and the event concluded with John Stewart of HACAN who came on stage together with some polar bears from a protest earlier in the day at Heathrow who received prolonged applause.

We were then invited to take part in two further protests that were continuing the day's theme, with some protesters going on to take direct action around Parliament and 'Art Not Oil' proceeding with their Viking longship to protest on the steps of Tat Britain against the gallery accepting sponsorship to greenwash climate wrecker BP. Although the direct action was perhaps more newsworthy (and ended up with some clashes in which at least one journalist was injured and arrested, as well as some protesters) I decided there would be less coverage of the Tate action and so went that way. It was also on the way to Vauxhall station, a convenient place to catch a train home.
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Time to Act on Climate Change

Lincoln's Inn Fields to Parliament. Sat 7 Mar 2015
Tina-Louise Rothery from 'Frack Free Nanashire' and others from Lancashire sitting down on the Strand
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Over 20,000 protesters marched through London demanding action on climate change with divestment from fossil fuels, an end to fracking and damaging bio-fuel projects and for a 100% renewable energy future which would create a million new jobs.

The marchers met up in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and were led by a group of cyclists as the set off for Parliament. On the Strand, some of those present surged towards McDonalds, which was protected by a line of police, who had earlier largely avoided the large protest, after the organisers had said they were unwilling to pay for any policing of the event.

Hundreds then sat down in the Strand for around 15 minutes, including a large block from Frack Free Lancashire, led by the Nanas. The march then restrarted with a sizeable black bloc making itself noticed in Whitehall. When the march reached King Charles St, they peeled off from the main march and rushed down it, with a number of police following. I took a few pictures as they started, then decided to rejoin the main march as it went past Parliament to College Green.
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Poor Doors Zero Police

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Thu 5 Mar 2015

Protesters briefly block Whitechapel High St with their banners, including the 'Party Leaders' banner
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Last week Class War were threatened with arrest as an officer found their 'Party Leaders' banner offensive. They came back to protest against separate doors for rich and poor ready to defy police, but for the first time in 20 protests no police arrived for the protest.

The protest continued as usual on the pavement outside the 'rich door' on Whitechapel High St, with speeches against social segregation and chanting of slogans against separate doors for the wealthy and the social housing residents. As well as displaying the 'Party Leaders' banner which had led to a threat of arrest by police, they also had their Lucy Parsons banner, with its quote "We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live". People were also holding the posters "Class War - You are now entering the Peoples' Republic of Aldgate'.

Towards the end of the protest, people took briefly to the roadway and held up traffic for a few minutes with their banners, before returning to the pavement and continuing the protest. As the protesters were packing up, a small group of protesters arrived late, having been held up in the congestion at Oxford Circus, where crowds queued for up to an hour to be let into the underground station.

Apparently after the rest of us had left and security on the 'rich door' had relaxed, this small group rushed inside through the door while a resident was entering and protested inside for a few minutes before being evicted. But by that time I was well on my way home.
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Homeless Persons Matter

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London. Tue 3 Mar 2015

Protesters hold up the message '# No More Deaths On Our Streets'
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'Homeless Persons Matter' say activists shocked by video and eye-witness reports of Los Angeles police shooting and killing an unarmed homeless man on Skid Row in an impromptu protest outside the US Embassy called by the group Love Activists. The protest was called at very short notice and there were few present.

Eye-witnesses say the man was unarmed but there was a scuffle when police tried to grab him. They got him to the ground, possibly using a tazer, and then, according to an onlooker "When they couldn’t apprehend him that’s whey they backed up and just started shooting. Pow, pow, pow. There was five of them."

The protesters at the US embassy had posters with the hashtags #NoMoreDeathsOnOurStreets, #homelesslivesmatter and #ACAB.
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Mexican President told Stop the Killing

Downing St & Parliament Square, London. Tue 3 Mar 2015

'Donde Estan?' - Where are they? ask the protesters about the 43 missing Ayotzinapa students
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Several hundred, many Mexicans, protested against President Peña Nieto outside Downing St, and in Parliament Square after he spoke in the House of Lords. They blame him for over 100,000 deaths and disappearances including the 43 Ayotzinapa students.

It was a colourful rally at Downing St, including some people with faces painted in traditional Mexican designs with people angered at the continued violence and killings in Mexico, and in particular about the disappearance of the 43 students, thought to have been abducted by police under the orders of the local Mayor and handed over to drug cartels. People held giant pictures of the students faces and shouted 'Alive they took them; Alive we want them back' and the whole crowd recited slowly in Spanish the numbers from one to 43.

Speech bubbles held by some stated 'Mexico has a skeleton in the closet' and a banner listed '110K killed, 22K disappeared' since 2006, deaths and disapperances they blame on the Mexican President Peña Nieto who was visiting the UK and speaking to Parliament in the House of Lords.

The protesters marched from the rally to Parliament Square, and the shouting came to a crescendo when a motorcade sped out and away, presumably including the president. They then marched back chanting as they went along Parliament Street the numbers 1-43, and the rally opposite Downing St continued,. As I left, Jeremy Corbyn MP was speaking.
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Shut Down Yarls Wood

Home Office, London. Tue 3 Mar 2015
Movement for Justice protesters outside the Home Office
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On the day that a parliamentary report was published condemning the UK immigration system, Movement for Justice protested at the Home Office demanding immediate closure of Yarls Wood following exposure of systematic brutality, racism and sexism.

The report by a committee, led by Sarah Teather Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central and a former Minister of State for Children and Families vindicates the struggles of detainees and ex-detainees for justice, freedom and respect and is a public nondemnation of immigration detention. It finds that the Home Office has abused its powers and that there must be must be an end to the torture of indefinite detention and a statutory 28-day time limit to detention, with every decision to detain subject to judicial oversight.

The report came the day after a damning Channel 4 undercover investigation of Yarls's Wood exposed systematic brutality, racism and sexism against the women held there.

Called at very short notice, the protest was not huge, but there was no doubting the determination of those present, some of who had been held in Yarl's Wood and other detention centres, that "Yarls Wood must be SHUT DOWN and the entire racist, sexist, corrupt system of immigration detention comes to an end."
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Maximus - Same Circus, Different Clowns

Westminster, London. Mon 2 Mar 2015

Kilburn Unemployed Worker’s Group Choir wore masks to sing "David Cameron is a W******“
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DPAC and other activists held a circus-themed protest at the London HQ of Maximus, who are taking over Work Capability Assessments for sickness and disability benefits from Atos, going on to the Dept of Work and Pensions before blocking Victoria St.

A sustained and militant campaign by DPAC and other disabled activists had both completely discredited Atos and persuaded them to quit running the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) which had been used to deny a large proportion of claimants the sickness and disability benefits they were entitled to in order to meet money-saving targets. Although many claimants got their benefits restored on appeal, some were unable to cope with the stress and committed suicide, desperate when they were left with no oney at all by the system.

Despite the computer-based tests having been found to be unfit for purpose, Iain Duncan Smith has continued to insist on their use, awarding US firm Maximus a lucrative contract to continue the harassment of the sick and disabled.

Maximus are also involved in the growing privatisation of the NHS, running the it for Work occupational health service designed to bully and harass people on sick leave into going back to work. In some areas they also run the Work Programme, forcing claimants into workfare to keep benefits; they also run similar welfare-to-work style schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.

The protest began outside the offices of Maximus in Queen Anne's Gate, and then moved on to take over the nearby mini-roundabout in Petty France as a 'circus ring', with various circus-styled performances, including a hula hoop display by Alice Rose and singing from Rockin’ Paddy who performed 'Battle of Whitehall' and the Kilburn Unemployed Worker’s Group Choir wearing David Cameron masks sang their 'David Cameron is a W******'.

From there the protest went on to the Dept of Work and Pensions at Caxton House, and after a rally on Tothill Street outside there most of those present continued to the pedestrian crossing in front of Westminster Abbey on Victoria St, positioning wheelchairs on it and blocking the street for some minutes.

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my london diary index

Mar 2015

Police seize Class War banner
Viking longship invades Tate steps
Climate Change Rally
Time to Act on Climate Change
Poor Doors Zero Police
Homeless Persons Matter
Mexican President told Stop the Killing
Shut Down Yarls Wood
Maximus - Same Circus, Different Clowns


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