Class War Women in Red

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Wed 12 Nov 2014

A raised fist salure from the Class War Women's Death Brigade
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The Class War Women's Death Brigade wore red at the 18th weekly protest against Redrow's separate doors for rich and poor at One Commercial St. Bail conditions on Jane Nicholl, arrested wearing a red coat last week have removed her right to protest.

Class War had brought along their controversial posters from the last general election campaign, large portraits of the party leaders with Class War's verdict - the same on each of them - overprinted large, the word 'WANKER'. Shortly after I arrived these were handed out in what Ian Bone of Class War described as an attempt to get into the Guiness Book of Records for the largest number of 'Cameron wanker posters' ever displayed at a protest.

Although it almost certainly was a record, I think the chances of it being recorded in that rather conservative publication are rather sub-zero. It's a record you will probably only find recorded on this web site.
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Lambeth Walk

Lambeth, London. Mon 10 Nov 2014

The Bligh and Tradescant tombs in the garden of the Garden Museum
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I went with some of our family on a short walk along the bank of the River Thames from Jubilee Gardens to Lambeth Bridge and in the garden of St Mary-at-Lambeth, now the Garden Museum. In 1976 Rosemary Weekes, having been impressed by the ruins met the Archbishop of Canterbury at an event next door in Lambeth Palace and set up a campaign to save the church and the fine tomb of father and son John Tradescant, 17th century plant hunters and royal gardeners, buried in St Mary's in 1638 and 1662 as a museum of garden history. A plaque in the garden of the church commemorates the efforts by her and her husband, John and Rosemary Nicholson.

The Tradescant tomb is a replica of the original commissioned by Hester Tradescant, the widow of the son in 1662 and was re-carved for the second time in Lambeth in 1853 using limestone from Darley Dale in Derbyshire. Close to it is a memorial to Captain Bligh of the Bounty, whose ship was used by the Tradescants. The garden also contains a recreation of a 17th century Knot Garden, based on designs by the elder John for estates at Hatfield and Cranborne.

As well as introducing hundreds if not thousands of plants - including the Tradescantia - to England and running the biggest garden centre of the age at their Lambeth estate, which also included a huge collection of other artifacts brought back from their journeys abroad, the first museum in the country open to the public. Before he died, the younger John was tricked by a friend who worked with him, Elias Ashmole into signing the whole business over to him on the pretence that it would be jointly owned with John's widow, Hester. He later presented the collection to Oxford University, where it formed the Ashmolean museum; Hester threw herself into a pond on the estate and drowned in 1678.

We ate at the museum cafe - pleasant though I would have preferred a pub lunch, but the Czech bottled beer was fine, before walking out and past a bit of the Archbishop's place and across Archbishop's Park to Lambeth Palace Rd, passing some topiary cyclists on the way. As we came onto York Road we had a 20 minutes spare before our train was due and it was starting to rain, so I led our group down Leake St to admire the graffiti and then up the steps to Station Approach Road to the entrance to the station.
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Shut Down Racist Immigration Prisons

Harmondsworth, London. Sat 8 Nov 2014
Protesters bring the message 'You Are Not Alone' to prisoners in the detention centre
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Around a hundred supporters of Movement for Justice, including some former detainees, protested outside Harmondsworth IRC (now run together with neighbouring Colnbrook detention centre, and officially renamed Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre), condemning the UK's immigration detention centres as racist and abusive, calling for these immigration prisons and the unfair fast track system designed to deport asylum seekers before they have time to prepare their case to be abolished.

Many at the protest also expressed shock at the decision by the EU to stop rescuing immigrants crossing the Mediterreanean, and a placard read 'Refusing to Rescue is Murder - End the "Let them Drown" policy'.

The two combined prisons are now run by Mitie, who have instructed police not to allow protests on the roadways around the side and back of the prison where they can be seen by some of those held inside from the upper floors. These are not public rights of way and are on Crown property.

After some negotiation, the protesters were confined to an area in front of the administrative block for today's protest. Although they were out of sight of the detainees, the protest could be heard inside the prison, as phone calls with some of the prisoners confirmed.

As well as the noisy shouting and dancing there were also a number of speeches, including some by people who had been detained inside Harmondsworth and other immigration prisons. They complained that although they had committed no crime (and in most cases were victims of crimes in their own countries), in the UK they were treated as criminals and locked away. They say Asylum detention is worse than prison for detainees because they have no idea when it may come to an end - some had been held for well over a year - and the detainees feel under a constant threat of being forcibly returned to the country they fled because they feared for their lives or had been tortured.
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IWGB protest at Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House, London. Fri 7 Nov 2014

Alberto Durango and IWGB members in the box office of the Royal Opera House
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When the IWGB protesters got back to Fleet St after their protest at Deloitte's offices, IWGB leader Alberto Durango suprised them by announcing that they would go on to make a brief surprise protest at the Royal Opera House.

The cleaners walked down Fleet St and across Aldwych, regrouping a short distance from the Royal Opera House for a short briefing by Alberto. They then moved quickly and quietly and rushed through the revolving door in the foyer of the Royal Opera House, pushing past and walking around a member of the secuirty staff to hold short protest in the foyer over their dispute with cleaning contractors MITIE over victimisation, trade union recognition and working conditions. After around five minutes, they left quietly and dispersed.

The IWGB is a small, independent, grass roots union which is determined to represent its members interests. Protests such as this would be unnecessary if the employers recognised the rights of this officially registered trade union to represent its members. Currently MITIE recognises another trade union which has few if any members at this workplace - and our defective trade union legislation enables it legally to do so. Relations would also be greatly improved if the Royal Opera House employed its cleaners directly rahter than using a contracting firm.
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IWGB protest at Deloitte

City of London. Fri 7 Nov 2014
A City of London Police officer grabs hold of IWGB leader Alberto Durango and tries to stop him protesting
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The Independent Workers of Great Britain trade union (IWGB) representing cleaners employed in Deloitte's City offices by services contractor SERCO held a noisy protest at four of their locations around Shoe Lane over the suspension two workers for taking part in protests and about working conditions and staff shortages which have results in many having back problems and suffering medically from stress.

The workers met on Fleet Street before marching to the first of the offices, hoping to take security there by surprise, but they were ready and waiting as the cleaners arrived, and they could only play their drums, blow their horns and whistles, shout slogans and wave their flags in the courtyard outside. The unfurled a large banner with the message 'Solidarity. We Are Performing a SercoExorcism'

Security just kept ahead of them as they went on to make their presence and thier greivances felt and heard at the other three nearby Deloitte Offices. As they stood outside the third of these, with IWGB union leader Alberto Durango speaking, an officer from the City of London Police came and grabbed hold of him, attempting to stop him protesting. Durango twisted away and angry union members surrounded the two men, telling the officer that they had a right to lawful protest.

Eventually he backed down and the protest continued, going on to a fourth office building, where after a few minutes the protest ended, with the union members marching back to Fleet St.
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Trafalgar Square Poppy Memorial

Trafalgar Square, London. Fri 7 Nov 2014
Poppies blow around an idealised sculpture of an 'uknown soldier'
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Mark Humphrey's brass 'Every Man Remembered' has a statue of a soldier standing on a block of Somme limestone in a perspex case, with poppies around his feet and in his arms; every 5 minutes poppies are blown in the air around him.

The sculpture was unveiled earlier in the day and is there for the Remembrance Day activities on Sunday, and I assumed it was intended to remain their for the actual Armistice Day the following Tuesday.

You can read some of my thoughts about this work with its bland and idealised image of an unknown soldier in Remembering the Dead on >Re:PHOTO. While the soliders, sailors and airmen on some of our better war memorials remind us that it was real people who fought and died in what was essentially a family quarrel over the pride of European royalty, this figure reminded me more of statues of the Buddha.

if we want to truly remember and honour the sacrifice then rather than statues like this we might have those that show - in Seigfried Sassoon's words - 'Young faces bleared with blood, Sucked down into the mud'. In the >Re:PHOTO piece I linked to a fine article by Paul Mason, on the almost completely ignored story of how the First World War actually ended, when German sailors, soldiers and workers refused to fight.
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Taiji Dolphin slaughter protest

Japanese Embassy, London. Fri 7 Nov 2014

A protester on stilts with a dolphin fan outside the Japanese Embassy
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A large protest at the Japanese embassy called on Japan to halt the annual slaughter of 20,000 dolphins, porpoises and small whales each year in Taiji Cove, which began around 40 years ago.

When I arrived, half an hour or so after the start of the long protest, there was a crowd of several hundred behind barriers on the narrow pavement on the opposite side of the road from the embassy. More were arriving all the time I was there, and by the time I left, they were on both sides of the road and on the wide central strip of pavement between the two carriageways.

As well as the large numbers involved, the protest was remarkable for the number of hand drawn posters and placards, as well as some 3D artworks. Many of those present accepted the offer of having their hands covered in red paint to represent the blood of the dolphins, which turns the water in the bay red during the slaughter.

Among those present was Ric O' Barry, founder of the Dolphin Project and the maker of the film 'The Cove' which has shown the shocking reality of the dolphin slaughter to audiences around the world. Many of those present came to talk to him and to be photographed standing with him. Accompanying him was a stilt-walker in Japanese costume long red scarves on each wrist, a dophin fan in one hand and a placard in the other.
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Fukushima Nuclear Protest

Japanese Embassy, London. Fri 7 N ov 2014

A Japanese anti-nuclear protest offers a leaflet to a man passing the Japanese Embassy, who refuses
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A small group of Japanese and English protesters handed out bi-lingual Japanese/English flyers outside the Japanese embassy in their regular weekly protest over Fukushima and the continuing danger from radioactive leaks from the site.

The want an end to the building of nuclear power stations worldwide because of the safety risks that Fukushima has highlighted, and for a proper investigation of the failures of TEPCO, the owners of the Fukushima power plant in running the plant and reporting and tackling the catastrophe.

As on other Fridays, after protensting for an hour or so outside the Japanese embassy they left, on their way to carry out a further protest outside the London offices of TEPCO in Berkeley Square.
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Brent Housing Sit-in

South Kilburn Housing Office, London. Fri 7 Nov 2014

Protesters with placards hold a discussion in the waiting area of the Housing Office
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Protesters sat in the South Kilburn Housing Office calling for Brent to end selling properties to overseas investors while rehousing local residents outside the area. They accuse them of social cleansing and say people need to be put before profit.

A staff member came and asked the protesters to continue the protest outside as it was interfering with work, but the protesters told her they were not stopping anyone from coming to appointments or calling in at the office, and questioned her for supporting the council's policies which were failing to meet the needs of local people in favour of wealthy foreigners with no connection to Brent.

The few minutes of shouting slogans at the start of the protest might have made any interviews then taking place in the building difficult, but after that the protesters were holding a discussion of the issues which would have caused no problems. Several people who came in to see staff in the office came to talk with the protesters and expressed agreement with their views.

Two police officers arrived and talked with the office staff and then with the protesters. The room in which the protest was taking place was described on a board outside as a "Community Resource Centre" and they could see no problem with the way that is was currently being used by members of the community and so long as they behaved reasonably the police did not want to be involved.

I left after around an hour while the protest and discussion was still continuing, with one or two more people coming to join it as I left.
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Guy Fawkes 'Anonymous' Million Mask March

Parliament Square, London. Wed 5 Nov 2014

'Anonymous' figure with a poster 'We will not be silenced' on an empty police van in front of Big Ben
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The world wide Million Mask March against austerity, the corporate takeover of government and the abuse of power in London set off from Trafalgar Square, marching to Parliament Square where I joined them.

The march of hundreds of people were met by a mass of barriers around the square with large groups of riot police threatening them. The marchers called on the massed riot police to put their batons away and join their Guy Fawkes party without success. They marched around the square and then left in several directions, some heading for Buckingham Palace. I decided I'd had enough of taking pictures in the dark and went home.
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Poor Doors Guy Fawkes burn Boris

One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Wed 5 Nov 2014

Protesters dancing with Class War Banners are lit up by the flames of the burning Boris
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A guy with a Boris Johnson mask was set on fire at Class War's weekly protest outside the rich door to in Aldgate and several flares were set off. Police made an arrest, provoking a struggle between police and protesters and a second arrest.

Many of the protesters gathered in a nearby pub with an effigy of Boris Johnson (BJ) before the protest, before going out onto the street at the mouth of the alley leading to Freedom bookshop. They then got out banners and walked along with BJ towards One Commercial St. On the way someone placed an orange flare into BJ's top pocket which livened things up, but had come to an end before we reached the rich door.
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Boycott Hewlett Packard - Sustainable Brands

Lancaster London Hotel, London. Wed 5 Nov 2014

Campaigners with Palestinian flags outside the Lancaster London Hotel at Lancaster Gate

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Palestian campaigners contested Hewlett-Packard's claim to create "a better future for everyone" at the Sustainable Brands conference which HP sponsor, because of their IT support for Israeli forces who killed 521 Palestinian children in the attack on Gaza.

HP's IT support also runs the Israeli prisons, where young Palestinian boys as well as other prisoners have been kept for long periods in solitary confinement and tortured. Many Palestinians are locked up in 'adminstrative confinement' without any proper charges or trial.

A group of protesters stood outside the hotel where the conference was taking place, handing out flyers to people going in or out of the hotel as well as those walking past, and several people spoke about the HP's deep involvement in Israeli war crimes and persecution of Palestinian.
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Global Solidarity With Kobane

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 1 Nov 2014

Women with Kurdish Workers Party flags
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Thousands came to a Trafalgar Square rally for the defenders of Kobane against ISIS and for the remarkable democratic revolution of Rojava, calling for aid for the Kurdish fighters and refugees, legitimisation of the PKK and the release of Ocalan. The protest was part of a Global day of solidarity with the YPG (People's Defense Units) and the women of the YPJ fighting against ISIS at Kobane.

The protest was organised by the Kurdish People’s Assembly and Peace in Kurdistan Campaign in cooperation with Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), Roj Women Assembly and Free Youth Movement and community organisations, and was also supported by some left and human rights groups. Among the speakers were Margaret Owen OBE, human rights lawyer and adviser to the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) and Peace in Kurdistan (PIK), Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, Mark Thomas, Peter Tatchell and Father Joe Ryan, a Catholic priest from Haringey where many of London's Kurds live, as well as representatives of various Kurdish groups.

As well as speaking about the fight and the need to support the Kurds in their struggle, many speakers criticised Turkey for their support of ISIS, and their refusal to let Turkish Kurds join in the fight. Turkey is accused of letting fighters cross its border to join ISIS and also of facilitating the smuggling operations that support ISIS financially as a continuation of its long discrimination and attempts to subdue opposition from Kurds living in Turkey.

Many see the model constitution adopted in the Rojava, the de facto autonomous Kurdish majority region in northern and north-eastern Syria as an important democratic development, especially for its pluralism, democratic participation and protection of fundamental human rights and liberties.
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Revolution Banner Drop

Waterloo Bridge and Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 1 Nov 2014

Protesters hold the 'Revolution' banner on Waterloo Bridge - later they took it to Trafalgar Square
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Protesters from 'Anonymous' in Guy Fawkes masks held up a banner with the message 'REVOLUTION' on Waterloo Bridge and the Kobane demonstration in Trafalgar Square, handing out flyers for the Nov 5th 'March Against Government Corruption' in London.
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Against acid attacks on Iranian women

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 1 Nov 2014
A woman, her head and face bandaged holds a sign 'This is not for Halloween...'
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The 8th March Women's Organisation (Iran - Afghanistan) protested in Trafalgar Square against acid attacks on women who do not wear a veil in Iran. Attacks by gangs encouraged by the regime to enforce strict Islamic rules have left many women scarred and blinded.
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PETA World Vegan Day Naked Protest

Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 1 Nov 2014
There were rather fewer than 255 protesters, but it was still an impressive show
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A World Vegan Day protest by PETA dramatised the 255 animals killed for food in the UK every second by a similar number of people lying near naked or nearly naked and smeared with fake blood on a tarpaulin.

Many animals farmed for our consumption are kept in crowded and cruel conditions and are killed in painful and terrifying ways. Many are also treated with hormones, anti-biotics and other chemicals that can be dangerous to both the animals and to those of us who eat them, and the overuse of antibiotics threatens to produce drug-resistant mutations that pose a threat to human life.

Some of the posters at this protest read 'Choose Life: Chose Vegan', but a vegan economy would have little place for animals. PETA believe "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way". I'd be happier to see fewer animals being farmed and slaughtered in an ethical and humane manner - and be prepared to eat less meat and to pay a fair price for it.

Nature isn't vegetarian, and certainly not vegan, though of course some species are herbivores. But others are carnivourous or omnivores, and I can see no problem in our own species eating meat oor fish though I would like to see all of the current cruel practices involved in producing food for us outlawed. Eating foie gras should definitely be made a crime!
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All pictures on this section of the site are Copyright © Peter Marshall 2014; to buy prints or for permission to reproduce pictures or to comment on this site, or for any other questions, contact me.

my london diary index
 

Nov 2014

Class War Women in Red
Lambeth Walk
Shut Down Racist Immigration Prisons
IWGB protest at Royal Opera House
IWGB protest at Deloitte
Trafalgar Square Poppy Memorial
Taiji Dolphin slaughter protest
Fukushima Nuclear Protest
Brent Housing Sit-in
Guy Fawkes 'Anonymous' Million Mask March
Poor Doors Guy Fawkes burn Boris
Boycott Hewlett Packard - Sustainable Brands
Global Solidarity With Kobane
Revolution Banner Drop
Against acid attacks on Iranian women
PETA World Vegan Day Naked Protest

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