Cleaners invade Barbican Centre
Barbican Centre, London. Sat 16 May 2015
UVW members and one of their children at the noisy but
peaceful protest inside the Barbican Centre
Cleaners at the Barbican Centre employed by MITIE have been threatend
with sacking if they protest for a living wage and proper sick pay. They say
a disabled worker has been assaulted by a manager and that he was accused
of terrorism for posting a video of himself at work.
I joined the cleaners at a United Voices of the World meeting in Bethnal
Green before the demonstraton. The UVW is a grassroots trade union run on
a voluntary basis and comprised almost entirely of low-paid migrant workers;
most of the meeting was in Spanish, with some key items translated into English
for the benefit of me and the few other non-Spanish speakers. I travelled
with them on the bus to Liverpool St and went with them as they walked quietly
towards the Barbican Centre, stopping on the way to meet up with some others
who were joining the protest.
They waited until everyone had reached a street corner close to the Barbican,
and then ran along the street and across the road through the main entrance
of the Barbican Centre. Security there briefly stopped one or two, but the
rest surged past and into the middle of the centre where they held a noisy
After some minutes, police arrived and the protesters began a noisy tour
of the buillding, finally being stopped by police near to the doors leading
to the lake. There was a heated discussion between UVW General Secretary Petross
Elia leading the protest and police, with Barbican managers also joining in.
Eventually the UVW agreed to leave by the route they had come in, and marched
banging their drums and shouting through the centre to continue the protest
on the street outside. The marched a little around the Barbican estate before
returning to protest outside the main entrance to the arts centre.
Silent protest over Sewol ferry disaster
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 16 May 2015
A woman holds up a bilingual poster at the protest
A monthly silent 'Stay Put' protest to remember the Sewol victims demanded
the Korean government raises the ferry for a thorough inquiry, recovers all
missing victims, punishes those responsible and enacts special anti-disaster
Caged vigil for Shaker Aamer
Trafalgar Square, London. Sat 16 May 2015
A figure in an orange jumpsuit and black hood kneels,
her hand in chains
Becky from the campaign to free British Resident Shaker Aamer, a charity
worker seized in Afghanistan now in his 14th year of unlawful imprisonment
in Guantanamo, staged a 14 hr vigil to raise funds to send a delegation of
MPs to Washington.
Victory Rally For Jasmin Stone
Stratford Broadway, London. Sat 16 May 2015
Jasmin and others dance to the music on the stall
Focus E15's weekly street stall, held there weekly for almost two years
was this week a Victory Rally For Jasmin Stone after police dropped thecase
Jasmin was charged with squatting after police raided a flat she was visiting
in April but charges were dropped 24hrs before the case was to be heard for
lack of evidence; the arrest, like some other arrests of protesters, appears
to have been simply a way to harass a prominent housing protester. There does
seem to ba a process taking place with the intention of criminalising protests
in Newham and elsewhere.
Supporters talked and handed out leaflets to passing shoppers on the busy
street, and there were a few short speeches about the desperate housing situation
in London, as well as some music and dancing
My Birthday Outing
London. Thu 14 May 2015
Elephant & Castle subway
It was my birthday, and a significant one, but for various reasons my family
celebrations were taking place later, and a few of my photographer friends
met me at lunchtime and very kindly took me out for a day in London, where
we saw a few photography shows, failed to find another when driving rain obscured
our vision, got very wet and took shelter in a pub or two and ended up having
a very nice meal together before saying goodbye at Waterloo station.
But the night was still young, and a bus took me to The Elephant, where I
staggered through the subways to the private view of Continuum, where I came
across a number of old friends in photography too. It had been a good way
to spend my birthday.
Sweets Way & West Hendon at Barnet Council
Barnet Town Hall, London. Wed 13 May 2015
132,939 signatures from West Hendon, 64,848 from Sweets
Way for Barnet Council leader Richard Cornelius
People facing eviction as Barnet Council hands their estates to property
developers brought petitions with over 200,000 signatures to council leader
Richard Cornelius. There were angry scenes as security restricted access to
the town hall meeting.
Residents and former residents from Sweets Way and West Hendon estates met
outside Barnet Town Hall where councillors and guests were arriving for a
town hall meeting.
A small group was allowed inside to present a petition to council leader
Cornelius, and security allowed me inside after I showed them my press card.
When I started to photograph the handover, a council press officer intervened,
looked at my press card and told me I could not take any pictures. Fortunately
by the time he told me I had already taken several. He then instructed security
to take me out of the building.
I went with them, still protesting, and was slowly pushed towards the door.
It wasn't possible then for me to leave as a large crowd of protesters was
attempting to push its way inside. Another photographer who had been allowed
to take photographs stood in the lobby with me, and we both took pictures,
despite the security men telling me I was not allowed to do so. There seemed
to me to be a clear public interest in recording what I could see.
Through a window at the side of the lobby I could see into another room at
the front of the building and realised that people were attempting to climb
in through an open window, with council staff blocking them. I and the other
photographer both started taking pictures through the glass, but soon another
security man was on the other side attempting to block our view.
The security men then helped me out through the crush, which had subsided
a little. They had behaved reasonably and I think were probably not happy
at having to carry out the orders they had been given by the council officer,
and our disagrements were relatively polite, but they made clear that I would
not be allowed back into the town hall.
I photographed the protesters still holding the window open from the outside.
A few people were by now being allowed into the public meeting, but most of
the protesters - as well as myself- were kept out. It was in any case time
I was on my way home.
Grant FGM campaigner Maimuna Jawo asylum
Home Office, London.13 May 2015
Maimuna Jawo joins in the chanting at the protest
Maimuna Jawo fled The Gambia in her fight against FGM (Female Genital
Mutilation), refusing to take over her family's duty as her village's 'cutter'
when her mother died. In the UK she was held in Yarls Wood, and now her asylum
claim has been rejected.
Movement for Justice write:
Maimuna is next in line to be a cutter, and is expected to train her daughter
to do the same. Tradition dictates that the cutter must come from one familial
lineage, so by not being there, Maimuna is stopping girls from being cut.
When she came to the UK it was out of a courage and determination not
to take up the role following her own mothers passing. She has denied her
village their cutter by leaving it behind; but rather than celebrate and
support this move, the Home Office have been bent on deporting Maimuna back
to face the relentless pressure from the authorities to take up the knife.
They say that the Home Office have refused to look at the evidence about
her, including from a BBC TV documentary team who went and interviewed in
her home village and expert testimony about the role of FGM in the state and
national organisation. They state that she has been refused a right to appeal
to a court as the Home Office actions would then be exposed to press and public,
and would show the government's claim of wanting to end FGM to be a sham.
The protest was organised by the Movement for Justice, and among
those who came to speak in support of Maimuna was Green Party Leader Natalie
Lyme Disease - Urgent action needed
Downing St, London. Wed 13 May 2015
Campaigners hold up cuddly woolen ticks - but the real
things are small and very dangerous
Campaigners at Downing St highlighted the serious dangers of Lyme Disease
from tick bites, calling for public education and for the NHS to abandon useless
tests and tackle this killing disease seriously with effective tests and treatments.
Lyme disease, or borreliosis, is becomiing increasingly more common across
Europe and the USA, and all those who walk or work in woods, parks and even
gardens are at risk. Spread by bites from infected ticks, it is hard to diagnose
and often goes untreated, with few doctors being aware how serious and widespread
it is, often leading to partial or complete disablement.
The tests still recommended under the NHS are extremely unreliable, and the
disease can give a wide range of symptoms and is often misdiagnosed as ibromyalgia,
Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, M.E., Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia/Alzheimer’s,
psychiatric disorders, Depression, Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) or viral illness.
Better diagnostic methods are available, but vested interests are preventing
them being adopted.
The campaigners want Lyme to be made a notifiable disease, for better methods
of diagnosis to be actively explored and for doctors the be trained in the
treatment of this and other tick-borne diseases. Extended treatment with high
dose, combination or long-term antibiotics can be succesful in treating Lyme
disease, though a 5-year follow-up is said to be advisable.
The also want all government bodies for the Environment, Health, Sport and
Tourism to raise awareness of problem of tick bites, and of the need to check
for ticks after outside activities, and to remove any found in an appropriate
removal greatly reduces the risk of infection, and is best performed with
the aid of a small cheap plastic tool (such as the O'Tom Tick Twister) which
could be made very readily available for a few pence - although currently
they cost from around £2.60 up. It would be useful fro thest to be included
in commercial First Aid kits. If tick removal is carried out improperly, the
risk of infection is high.
End Child Abuse, support Whistleblowers
Parliament Square, London. Wed 13 May 2015
Some of the protesters wore t-shirts suggesting suitable
punishments for child abusers
Adult survivors of child abuse and whistleblowers united called on parliament
to end abuse in the care system, to believe and act upon children's reports
of being abused and to end the covering up of abuse.
A number of those present told me a little of their own personal stories
of reporting abuse and of no action having been taken by social services and
police. One father had continued to report possible abuse of his son who was
living with his former wife. Eventually his reports led to an investigation,
and he has been offered financial compensation - but that was no compensation
for the abuse of his son. Some making complaints had found themselves under
investigation and the complaints had led to their children being taken away
or access to them being refused.
As well as their own personal stories, the protesters were well aware of the
complaints that have been made against prominent people, including members
of parliament, where investigations have been dropped despite clear evidence.
Middleton and Manchester. Sat & Sun 9 & 10 May 2015
From the bus between Middleton and Manchester at Harpurhey
I went to a weekend event in Middleton, and on Saturday went for a short
walk before breakfast to the Rochdale Canal. In the afternoon, together with
a few others we started the same way but then walked another five miles or
so, through Tandle Hill Country Park, back to where we were staying.
On Sunday we took the bus back to Manchester, arriving an hour or two before
our train was due to leave. I lived in Manchester most of the time from 1963
until moving to Leicester in 1970 (and for a few months worked in Chadderton,
spitting distance from Tandle Hill, though I never went there.)
We went for a short walk, taking us again along the Rochdale Canal, and then
going back through some streets I often walked along around 40 years ago.
I've not spent a lot of time in Manchester in the interval, and only a few
seemed familiar. Much has changed, though one of the buildings I worked in
still looked much the same from outside.
I hardly took any photographs of Manchester in the seven years I spent there.
Mainly because I simply couldn't afford it. And those I did were not helped
by having dropped my camera in a lake at Versailles, where it spent perhaps
half an hour under water. It was never the same again, with a shutter that
stuck and gave quite unpredictable exposures. But walking through the city
I felt how much I had missed.
We Stand with Baltimore - Black Lives Matter
U.S. Embassy London. Tue 5 May 2015
Rapper, poet, and journalist Akala performs at the We
Stand with Baltimore - Black Lives Matter vigil
London Campaign Against Police and State Violence held a solidarity vigil
to stand with the family and friends of victims of police violence in Baltimore:
Freddie Gray, Mya Hall and also victims of police brutality in the UK.
Among groups supporting the solidarity vigil with the family and friends
of victims of police violence in Baltimore were the United Families &
Friends Campaign (UFFC), Defend the Right to Protest, NUS black students and
the Cole Family Truth
Julian Cole’s friend Che Lingo reads a speech written
by Claudia Cole, the mother of Julian Cole, who supported the, but understandably
felt unable to attend on the second anniversary of the police attack on her
son. Her speech included the following outline of what happened two years
My son was a 20 year old athlete studying sports science at university
of Bedfordshire. On Sunday 5th May 2013, Julian was alone, outside Elements
Nightclub in Bedford, we believe he was asking for a refund after he and
his friends had been asked to leave the club. Security guards grabbed Julian
and passed him to police officers who were outside the club.
Initially all my family and I knew, was that Julian had suffered a
severe spinal injury, brain injury and cardiac arrest following this contact
with the police. Just like Freddie Gray, the injuries themselves began to
give us some idea as to what happened. Julian’s injury is ‘hangman’s
fracture’. It is the kind of injury associated with the sudden and
violent pulling backwards of the head, usually when there is a counter force
against the body.
Julian has been left paralysed and in a vegetative state. He needs
24-hour care for as long as he lives.
Police initially denied they had used any force, but video and eyewitness
evidence forced them to change their story. People saw him being dragged unconscious
into a police van. The IPCC investigation has still to be completed and the
family's questions about his death remain unanswered.
Another powerful speech was by Marcia Rigg of the Sean Rigg Justice
& Change Campaign and the United Families and Friends Campaign, still
fighting for justice over the killing of her brother Sean in Brixton Police
station in August 2008. Although the inquest found that police had used unsuitable
and unnecessary force, no officer has yet been charged over his death.
Occupy Gandhi - stop fossil fuel criminals
Parliament Square, London. Mon 4 May 2015
the tent, with Donnachadh McCarthy behind it
A rally and meditation by Occupy Democracy at the statue of Gandhi, noted
for his direct action civil disobedince, called for fossil fuel exploration
and investment to be made a crime, and defied the ban on tarpaulin and tents
in Parliament Square.
Donnachadh McCarthy introduced the protest on the grass in Trafalgar Square,
after which tarpaulins were moved to the paving in front of Ghandi and people
moved to sit in a circle there around a large blue tarpaulin with the message
'Criminalize Fossil Fuel Exploration'.
During the meditation that followed, Donnachadh and another person leading
the event got up and wrapped a blue tarpaulin around Gandhi. A couple of minutes
later two heritage wardens came and asked for it to be removed, and when it
was not they seized it and took it away. Immediately two other protesters
brought up a second blue wrap and held it around the statue, taking care for
a minute or two to avoid it actually contacting the statue and the heritage
wardens withdrew to watch with police a few yards away.
At the end of the meditation, Donnachadh announced an act of civil disobedience
and pulled a folding tent onto the tarpaulin on the pavement in front of him
and erected it. Several people then came and sat inside it, and the protest
After around half an hour several police officers, at the urging of the heritage
wardens, came over to the tent and informed those inside, who now included
Donnachadh, that they were committing an offence and might be arrested if
they failed to leave. The police then withdrew.
Twelve minutes later, as Big Ben struck two o'clock, around 20 police marched
towards the tent from both sides and surrounded it. Donnachadh who had been
standing in front of it quickly jumped back inside as they approached. Police
allowed a legal observer to stand inside the ring of officers around the tent
to give advice as those inside were again told they would be arrested unless
they left. It was a little difficult to see exactly what happened through
the ring of officers, but a couple of people appeared to leave at this point,
and police then went inside the small tent and pulled out the others - who
had joined their arms around each other - out one by one.
I followed Donnachadh as he was dragged and then carried away by police, still
shouting against fossil fuels as he was put into a police van at the west
side of the square. After the final protester was pulled out and carried away,
police brought out out the remains of the tent, torn and broken. The protest
continued rather more quietly around Gandhi and people began to leave.
Occupy Festival of Democracy
Parliament Square, London. Sun 3 May 2015
Donnachadh McCarthy speaks about trying to stop the selling of peerages by
the Liberal Democrats
Police and Heritage Wardens watched Day 3 of Occupy Democracy's 10 day
'Festival of Democracy' in Parliament Square "building a movement for
real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet!"
but did not intervene.
I arrived close to the end of a panel discussion on “Party Funding
and Cash for Peerages” with investigative journalist Tom Warren,
Andrew Mell who was lead author on Oxford University’s cash-for-peerages
report and Donnachadh McCarthy – former Lib Dem vice-chair and author
of The Prostitute State who has seen the corruption of parliamentarians from
There was a short break before the start of hustings for candidates from
parties excluded from taking a proper part in the media debates, although
only two - from the Green Party and TUSC had turned up by the time I left.
Various other presentations and meetings were scheduled to continue until
well after 9pm. The occupation is set to continue until May 10th.
Occupy Democracy has identified six core demands from a much longer list
agreed at earlier occupations:
• reform of party funding so that members of parliament act in the
interests of those who elect them rather than the 1% who bankroll them
• major democratic reform of the media to break the stranglehold of
• a fundamental overhaul of lobbying and the way powerful economic
interests inhabit the corridors of power within government
• the introduction of proportional representation so that everyone’s
• that MPs should not have conflicts of interests from either paid
employment or corporate shareholdings
• a citizen-led constitutional convention for real democracy.
Perhaps because of the absence of their political masters from Westminster
and their preoccupation with the election, there seemed to be none of of the
vendetta by heritage wardens and police against Occupy Democracy, though it
remains to be seen if this relaxation is only temporary.
Baltimore to Brixton - Black Lives Matter!
Brixton, London. Sun 3 May 2015
The front of the march on its way to Windrush Square
for a rally. No Justice, No Peace #BlackLivesMatter
The killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and police attacks on his funeral
resulted in huge protests there and elsewhere against police murders and militarised
policing. A protest in Brixton sent solidarity and pointed out similar problems
in Brixton and the UK.
People were slow to arrive at the meeting point for the march on Coldharbour
Lane in front of the Moorlands Estate, but eventually a decent crowd assembled.
Class War had come with their Lucy Parsons banner, and there were more banners
from the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement and Reclaim Brixton
as well as the London Black Revs and the main banner for the event with the
message 'No Justice, No Peace #BlackLivesMatter'.
Women of Colour and the All-African Women's Group from the Global Women's
Strike and a number of other people had brought placards, and the protest
was also supported by a wide range of other groups including Brixton Latin
American Community, Mexica Movement London Chapter, Our Brixton, Latin Brixton,
Justice for Christopher Alder, BirminghamStrong, Justice 4 ALL, The Brick
Lane Debates, Occupy UAL, RCG, Revolutionary Communist Group, Occupy London,
Rojava Solidarity Working Group, Algeria Solidarity Campaign, Environmental
Justice North Africa and Justice4Paps.
On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American, was brutalised
and pulled into a police van. His larynx was crushed & 80% of his spine
was severed at the neck.
A funeral attended by baltimore Highschool students was attacked by riot
police, footage shows stones being thrown by Baltimore PD, provoking local
youth. In the past few days, Baltimore has been gripped by a riots against
police brutality, murders, militarised policing and the deployment of the
The march started by going through the 'Barrier Block' of Southwyck House,
a vast and formidable 1970s concrete block, built to shield the estate from
an innercity motorway that fortunately never materialised, making its way
through the estate to with a brief halt at its centre to emerge onto Loughborough
Park opposite the Loughborough Park Estate where the Guiness Trust occupation
was taking place.
The march didn't stop there, but returned up Moorlands Road to Coldharbour
Lane, then marched along this into the centre of Brixton to Windrush Square
for a rally. Speakers at the rally included Tisha Brown, a former resident
of Maryland and member of London Black Revs, Algerian writer and co-founder
of the Algerian Solidarity Campaign Hamza Hamouchene and Rashid Nix, a community
activist from the area standing as Green Party candidate for Dulwich and West
At the end of the rally most of those present went on a march on the Brixton
Road up past Brixton Underground Station and on to Loughborough Rd, returning
eventually to Coldharbour Lane, this time turning down Somerleyton Road and
stopping at the community building, Number Six.
The march was going to continue after a rest there, but I had already walked
too far, and walked to catch a bus to Westminster.
Truth for Zane at Stand Up For Spelthorne
Staines, Middx. Sat 2 May 2015
Gbanghola, father of Zane, killed in last years floods, is supported by Zane's
mother, Nicola Lawler
Kye Gbangbola spoke at a protest organised by TUSC outside the Spelthorne
Tory HQ in Cherry Gardens on the cover-up of his son Zane's death in the floods,
and wider implications. Spelthorne council has been very slow to react to
the questions raised by the death which Zane's parents beleive to have been
caused by hydrogen cyanide released by flood water on unsafe landfill. They
want the council to investigate and take action not just over this site, but
at others in the borough that could lead to similar deaths in the future.
Others who spoke at the event including both Paul Couchman, Save Our Services
in Surrey and Spelthorne TUSC candidate, Paul Jacobs, Green Party candidate
for Spelthorne constituency and Stanwell North ward and actress Elizabeth
Mansfield, Green Party local election candidate for Riverside & Laleham,
raised Tory failings over flooding, the Shepperton incinerator and fire station
'Reclaim the Beats' at 'Poor Doors'
One Commercial St, Aldgate, London. Fri 1 May 2015
and music from the 'affordable housing' house filled the street as the party
Class War and others had planned an "epic street party" outside
One Commercial Street, with mobile sound systems, dancing, banners and coloured
flares. After taking over the roads outside the block they marched away.
There was a party atmosphere from the start as Class War arrived with their
banners outside One Commercial St for the May Day party at 'Poor Doors', and
loud cheers as they unfurled the replacement Political leaders banner, with
its images of the four party leaders and the message 'All f**king wankers'.
Even some of the police seemed a little amused. Police still hold the original
banner, produced for and used widely at the time of the 2010 election and
since, and now rather out of date, with an image of Gordon Brown rather than
The party really took off when a mobile sound system arrived, pushed by several
black clad and face-masked people, a small house on wheels with the slogan
'affordable housing' on its roof and two large loudspeaker horns on a post
at its centre. People began to dance around it and the air was soon filled
with the smoke from a number of flares, at times too thick to see or take
The protest soon spread out onto the road, blocking the traffic, and the signal
came to take to the street for a march. I left as they headed down towards
Tower Bridge for another protest there, having been on my feet for far too
long. I'd already photographed Tower Bridge being blocked and needed to go
Anti-Capitalists block Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge, London. Fri 1 May 2015
stopped traffic on Tower Bridge and let off flares protesting over housing
& education cuts
Anti-capitalist protesters, led by Class War with the Lucy Parsons banner,
marched on to Tower Bridge this afternoon and blocked traffic, calling for
social housing not social cleansing, with social housing for Londoners and
an end to cuts in foundation courses and other aspects of education.
People met on a small area of green space close to Tower Gateway station,
and were soon joined by a few police liasion officers keen to find out what
they intended to do. Eventually they formed into a march and marched onto
the bridge, stopping the traffic in both directions as they held a short protest,
displaying banners, letting off flares and chanting about the need for more
council housing and for an end to education cuts.
They then marched to the south end of the bridge and turned into Tooley St.
I left them as they marched past London Bridge station on their way back to
protest further in Westminster.
May Day Rally supports National Gallery
Trafalgar Square, London. Fri 1 May 2015
Victimised PCS National Gallery rep Candy Udwin holds
up 'sunflower' plates as she speaks
Workers striking against privatisation at the National Gallery handed
out 1,000 cardboard sunflowers to marchers entering Trafalgar Square for the
rally, and victimised PCS rep Candy Udwin made a powerful speech.
May Day march against austerity and racism
Clerkenwell to Trafalgar Sq, London. Fri 1 May 2015
Halk Cephesi, Turkish Popular Front at the start of
at the annual London May Day march at Clerkenwell Green
Trade unionists, migrant workers and members of London's diverse communities
and organisations marched through London to celebrate May Day and stand up
against austerity and for human rights, trade union rights and international
As well as a strong presence from London's many communities including Halk
Cephesi, the Turkish Popular Front, behind the many trade union banners, there
was as usual some lively anti-capitalist protesters, who half-way along the
Clekerkenwell Road decided to liven proceedings a little by marching along
on the other side of the road, where traffic was still flowing.
There were a few minor incidents as police tried to persuade them that this
was unsafe, as if they were unaware of the dangers of traffic, and small scuffle
broke out briefly as police started to search one of them.
As the march approached Trafalgar Square, the Class War banner entered first,
around 50 yards ahead of the main march banner, along with a few other protesters.
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