my london diary index


Stock photography by Peter+Marshall at Alamy

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All pictures Copyright © Peter Marshall 2017, all rights reserved.
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Justice for Rashan Charles

Stoke Newington, London. Sat 29 Jul 2017
Rashan Charles father (left) stands beside Edson da Costa's father as he speaks
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Protesters at Stoke Newington Police Station for Rashan Charles, who died while two police handcuffed him and held him on the floor at a shop on the Kingsland Rd in the early hours of Saturday 22nd July.

His family are determined to get answers about his death but call for everyone to act within the law. Members of the Charles family came to the protest along with family of Edson da Costa, who died after arrest in East Ham in June.

Edson's father spoke at the protest and Tottenham anti-racist campaigner Stafford Scott spoke on behalf the family of Rashan Charles. Local MP Dianne Abbot made a brief speech and there were also speeches from Islington Councillor Rakhia Ismail and two young local men as well as from several Socialist Workers Party activists from the organisers of the protest, Stand Up To Racism, including co-chair Weymann Bennett. Although a number of people from Movement for Justice were also present they were not invited to speak. Protesters held pictures the two men and Darren Cumberbatch, who died earlier this month after arrest in Nuneaton.

Independent charity Inquest say that Rashan Charles was the 1,619th person to have died in contact with the police since 1990.

At the end of the short meeting many hung around expecting there would be a march down to the shop in Kingsland Rd where Rashan Charles was attacked and strangled by a police officer, but after half an hour or so many, includingv myself, left.
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Mitie get 'Worst Employer' Award

Southwark Bridge, London. Fri 21 Jul 2017

Alberto Durango of CAIWU holds up Mitie's 'Worst Employer in the UK 2017' award outside Ofcom
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A small group of CAIWU (Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union) members came to the Ofcom Offices at Riverside House to present their 'Worst Employer in the UK 2017' Award to Mitie who employ the cleaners who clean Ofcom's offices.

The cleaners talked outside the offices with two Ofcom employees. One argued that this was an argument between the CAIWU and Mitie, and told organiser Alberto Durango that they should be protesting outside Mitie's offices rather than Ofcom.

But Ofcom had given Mitie the contract and are responsible for seeing that Mitie treat the workers who clean their offices properly. They pay Mitie and thus carry the responsibility of seeing the contract is handled properly.

The union alleges that Mitie bullies the workforce and that Herney Melendez was sacked for being a union activist on a false charge of theft. The second Ofcom employee stayed to say that Ofcom were a responsible company who had previously insisted that Mitie pay the living wage and investigate allegations of improper management. He said that they now needed fewer cleaners as they occupied one less floor, but said Ofcom would raise the union's allegation of unfair dismissal with Mitie.

He was asked to ask someone from Mitie to come out to receive their award and said he would try and get someone to do so. CAIWU waited for some time but no-won came and the award will be posted to them.
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Atos still killing the disabled

Euston Rd, London. Fri 21 Jul 2017

DPAC protesters block the Euston Rd in protest against cuts and unfair Atos tests
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DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) protest in Triton Square near Warrent St station at the London HQ of Atos who carry out PIP (Personal Independence Payment) assessments for the Dept of Work and Pensions. It was the finale of their week of action coinciding the London World Para Athletics Championships which they say the government uses to pretend they support the disabled, while targetting non-athletes for discriminatory cuts which kill.

Though Atos lost the contract for Work Capability Assessment because of their proven incompetence they are still assessing the needs of the disabled for PIP, using inadequately trained and qualified staff to produce assessments that DPAC say are "riddled with lies and inaccuracies."

DPAC say assessments should be carried out by suitably medically qualified staff and that there should be no financial incentives to end or reduce benefit or reduction targets assessors are obliged to meet. The assessments made by Atos often bluntly contradict medical reports and many are overturned on appeal; Atos adminstered tests seem to be simply to be an attempt by the DWP to cut the cost of disability benefits with no regard for the needs or safety of the disabled.

Many disabled people have taken their own lives because of the failures and deliberate discrimination of this shameful system set up by the DWP and applied with prejudice by Atos and others have starved to death without support. After making a lot of noise and some short speeches the protesters had a picnic outside the office before making more noise. They then marched to the nearby road junction and blocked one carriageway of the Euston Rd in a protest for around 10 minutes.
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DPAC/RMT 'Right to Ride' protest

Dept of Transport, London. Thu 20 Jul 2017
Paula Peters of DPAC demands Rail Access Now! for the disabled
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DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) protested with RMT members outside the Dept of Transport, calling for disabled people to have the same right to use rail services as others. The protest was another in the week of action for the London World Para Athletics Championships which DPAC say the government uses to try to show it is highly supportive of the disabled while actually they are highly discriminatory against all those who are not high-performing para-athletes.

Driver Only Operated trains, the removal of guards from trains and rail staff from stations all threaten their freedom to travel. DPAC have joined with RMT staff on picket lines when they take industrial action against these changes which discriminate against the disabled and threaten to rail safety.

After a protest rally with speeches in front of the ministry they delivered a petition demanding their right to ride on trains without having to give a day's notice and then blocked the road outside for ten minutes.
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Grenfell survivors tell Council "Resign now!"

Kensington Town Hall, London. Wed 19th Jul 2017
A man whose friends died holds up some of the cladding from Grenfell as he speaks
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Grenfell Tower survivors and supporters at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council meeting at Kensington Town Hall give the firm message to councillors 'Resign Now!'.

A couple of hundred protesters attended the council meeting, though some survivors were kept outside until the residents representative refused to speak until they were allowed in and there were many empty seats, while hundreds more watched the proceedings on a giant screen outside, erupting with fury at the complacency and paternalism of some councillors and shouting for the council to resign as they had shown themselves unable to deal with the disaster.

They feel the disaster happened as a result of the councils failure to take reasonable care of the safety of people in social housing, and that the poor are regarded not as people but as a problem the council has to deal with.

Earlier in the evening there was a noisy protest outside, with two sets of speeches a short distance apart as some housing campaign groups involved with Grenfell had been refused permission to speak by the organisers of the main Justice for Grenfell protest on political grounds and had brought their own PA system. They accuse the Socialist Workers Party, discredited among many on the left after its failure to deal properly and openly with sexual assaults by leading members, of trying to take over the protests about Grenfell.

As well as speeches there was a powerful performance by Latimer/Ladbroke Grove rappers El Nino & CX4 of their Grenfell Tower's Burnin - who say 'All of us here grew up in that block' and performed with blackened faces and reminders of the burning cladding. They performed at both mikes with a banner 'The Royal Murderers of Kensington & Chelsea' and their Youtube video includes some footage from this evening. Needless to say their appearance was misinterpreted in the mainstream press.
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Protest welfare reforms, cuts & sanctions

Kentish Town, London. Tue 18 Jul 2017
The wind blows up a poster 'No More Deaths From Benefit Cuts' outside the Jobcentre
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WinVisible, Unite Community Camden, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, Camden Momentum, English Collective of Prostitutes, All African Women’s Group, and others protested outside Kentish Town Jobcentre as a part of Disabled People Against Cuts day of local actions across the country against the effect of benefit cuts and welfare reforms on the poor and in particular on the disabled.

DPAC's week of action was timed to coincide with the London World Para Athletics Championships which they say the government supports to cover up the way they are targeting disabled people, many who have already died as a result of benefit changes and the DWP's deliberate policy of attrition with largely arbitrary sanctions and unfairly administered tests of fitness to work.

Under a new 'Claimant Commitment', so-called 'job coaches' can impose arbitrary conditions on claimants with no right of appeal, and those unable to find work in 24 months will be subject to a mandatory one year without benefits - nothing to live on for a whole year.
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Kentish Town

Kentish Town, London. Tue 18 Jul 2017

Camden Homeless Solidarity and Streets Kitchen squatted the former carpet showroom on Kentish Town Rd
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I was early for a protest in Kentish Town and took a short walk and a few pictures, mainly along Kentish Town Road, including some through the windows of the Solidarity Space from which Camden Homeless Solidarity and Streets Kitchen were evicted a two weeks earlier "to make way for Sports Direct to build an unwanted superstore and luxury flats."

Streets Kitchen continue to do a great job in providing safe spaces and food for the homeless at other centres in London and other cities in the UK and commented:

"Hundreds of people used and visited the space for food, clothes and essential supplies with somewhere to feel safe and comfortable.
We were able to operate out of the space to develop our outreach services and are desperate to find somewhere else in the Camden area as soon as possible.
So many homeless people who were accommodated over the months there are now consigned to the streets again. #SolidarityNotCharity"

Among the other photographs I took was one of the listed shop front of Blustons, sadly closed after 84 years and boarded up. Its listing record states:

"a 1931 shop front in Vitrolite with three-dimensional lettering and extensive glazing which emulates the architect-designed shops of the period; the mixture of Art Deco sunbursts, neo-classical mouldings and Moderne materials evidences the emulation of different West End styles of the 1920s and 1930s, once typical of shops in suburban high streets."

The extensive arcade-style window display apparently makes up more than half the floor space. The shop closed in March 2015 and re-opened briefly in 2016 again as a clothes store under new management.
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Processione della Madonna del Carmine

Clerkenwell, London. Sun 16 Jul 2017
Clergy release doves at the start and end of the procession past the Italian church
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Statues of the saints from the Italian Church along with floats containing biblical scenes, Christ carrying a cross and another leading the first communicants and the clergy and congregation, along with Italian groups from other towns in the South-East all take part in an annual procession of Our Lady of Mount Carmel around what was once London's 'Little Italy'.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is one of the titles of the Virgin Mary, who was adopted as the patroness of the Carmelite Order which was begun by hermits on Mt Carmel in Palestine around the end of the 12th century. July 16 became the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the procession takes place on the closest Sunday - and today it was on the actual saint's day.

The Italian Church in Clerkenwell first got permission to hold this festival with its procession around the streets around 1880, with Queen Victoria giving the Holborn police special permission for it to take place. It was around a hundred years since the great anti-Catholic 'Gordon Riots' in which over two hundred were killed, but there was still considerable anti-catholic feeling in the country, and this is thought to have been the first major Catholic street procession since Henry VIII took the English church out from Rome around 1534. By the late 1890s the procession had become a regular annual event and has continued more or less every year since (except perhaps in some wartime years.)

I've photographed the event most years since some time in the late 1990s, and it has changed relatively little, though the route taken by the procession has been altered and it no longer goes through Hatton Garden.

As well as the procession there is also a festival or Sagra, with Italian food and drink and other activities in and around Warner St, down the hill from the church. It gets very crowded and it's a place where many English Italians meet up with old friends. Its also a place where I meet up with several other photographers and share a few glasses of wine.
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March against school funding cuts

Westminster, London. Sun 16 Jul 2017

NUT General Secretary at the head of the march in Parliament Square,
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Hundreds of parents, children, teachers and others march from Embankment down Whitehall to Parliament Square in a protest against unfair cuts in school funding.

The 'Carnival Against Cuts' was organised by parents in the 'Fair Funding for All Schools' campaign and supported by the NUT. Funding for state education has not kept up with the increase in pupil numbers, and the changes to the National Funding Formula will mean huge cuts in teaching staff and learning support in more deprived areas, particularly in the inner cities.

Campaigners want a real terms increase in funding per pupil for all schools rather than diverting resources from some schools to benefit others. Speakers at the rally included shadow minister Dawn Butler MP, but I didn't stay long after she spoke.
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Barts NHS Cleaners march against Serco

Whitechapel, London. Sat 15 Jul 2017
John McDonnell with others on the march down the Mile End Rd
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After 5 days of strike, the cleaners and porters of Barts Trust and their supporters hold a lively rally at the Royal London Hospital and march through the East End to Mile End Hospital.

A crowd of hundreds at the rally heard speeches by the strikers, by the leaders of the successful cleaners strike at the LSE, by groups opposed to Serco who employ mainly migrant workers in other public sector workplaces as well as running immigration prisons such as Yarl's Wood where migrant women and families are daily repressed and subject to physical and sexual abuse, as well as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and trade unionists including Gail Cartmail of Unite.

When Serco took over the workers at Royal London, their first action was to write to them all telling them they were no longer allowed paid tea breaks; they had to withdraw when workers refused to move from the canteen until the breaks were restored.

The cleaners accuse Serco of increasing stress and workload with a climate of bullying, intimidation and fear and a failure to set up procedures for reporting problems with facilities and other issues. Serco have refused the Unite union claim of 30p per hour in line with inflation and cost of living increases in London, and workers voted 99% in favour of strike action.

The union claims that on strike days Serco have illegally brought in agency workers with inadequate training to replace them and that after the first 2 days of strike conditions in the hospital were unsanitary and some patients did not receive hot meals.

Serco's ten-year contract at Barts is worth £600m and the Barts Trust is in a financially impossible position because of the £2.4m weekly interest payments on a disastrous private finance initiative (PFI) contract made under New Labour.

After the rally the several hundreds present marched along the busy Mile End Rd to Mile End hospital and then to a small park nearby where the march ended with a few short speeches.
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Community calls for Ritzy Boycott

Brixton, London. Fri 14 Jul 2017

People outside the Ritzy with placards and banners
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A community protest by local cinema-goers outside Brixton's Ritzy Cinema supports the workers there, calling for people to boycott the cinema and bar along with other cinemas also owned by Picturehouse

Workers at the Ritzy have been campaigning for several years to get the London Living Wage, which is paid by other cinemas. Despite making huge profits, Cineworld, the owners of Picturehouse have not been prepared to pay staff a living wage.

Three BECTU union reps at the Ritzy have now been sacked and a fourth is awaiting a disciplinary hearing. They appear to have been victimised for entirely legitimate trade union activities - and other employees who were not union reps but acted in the same way have not been disciplined.

Members of the local community, including members of Momentum, the PCS and Lambeth Unison stood with placards outside the cinema and called on members of the public to boycott the Ritzy and other Picturehouse cinemas until they pay the living wage and re-instate the victimised workers.
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Freedom for Palestinian MP

Westminster Bridge, London. Fri 14 Jul 2017
There were seldom long enough gaps in the people walking past to photograph the whole display
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Inminds Palestinian Prisoners Campaign protest on Westminster Bridge in front of the UK Parliament calling for the release of Palestinian MP Khalida Jarrar and the other 10 members of the Palestinian parliament that are currently imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

Speeches, flags, banners, poster and leaflets called on the public who walked past for support, and many stopped to look. Jarrar was abducted by Israeli soldiers on July 2nd and sentenced to six months administrative detention on 12th July 2017 without charge or trial.

Nine of the MPs in Israeli prisons are similarly held without charge, and MP Mohammad al Natsheh has been imprisoned for over 10 years, mainly without charge or trial.

Inminds say that Israel detains MPs to undermine Palestinian democracy, and that the use of administrative detention relying on secret information that never needs to be revealed to the detainee or their legal team in in breach of the International COvenant on Civil and Political Rights which Israel has signed and a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
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Council tax TAP Protest

Highbury, London. Thu 13 Jul 2017

The Rev Paul Nicolson rings his warning bell outside the court
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Supporters protest outside Highbury Corner Magistrates Court with Rev Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty, summoned to appear following his refusal to pay council tax in solidarity with everyone in UK suffering mental or physical ill-health due to inadequate incomes and debt.

Rev Nicolson gave a speech on the pressure of cuts on the poor who desperately need to pay for food, fuel, clothes and transport and reminded us of the forgotten ethical principle "Land is a gift of nature which exists to provide shelter, food, fuel and clothes for all".

He is challenging the costs involved in enforcing council tax and Haringey Council's gift of £2billion worth of council houses and other property to international property predators Lend Lease which will result in many residents losing their homes in the borough.

As expected, after orders had been made against 510 other Haringey residents by the magistrate signing a computer printout, his case was heard, and the court issued a liability order against Rev Nicolson to Haringey Council adding £115 costs.

Most of the 510 are simply people who cannot afford to pay. The letter sent to them from the council will tell them that unless they contact the council to pay the council will attempt to recover the unpaid Council Tax either by sending in bailiffs - who add a charge of £75 to the bill for their services, with another £235 if they have to visit and an extra £110 if the call to collect furniture - or by attachment of earnings or benefit, by bankruptcy, charging orders and finally by committal to prison. All punishments by a local council of its residents for being exceedingly poor, punishments where what people need is assistance.
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Have a Field Day HS2 protest

Euston Square, London. Sat 8 Jul 2017
Campaigners had decorated over 50 trees in the square which are to be cut down for HS2
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On the Field Day annual celebration by Fields in Trust in partnership with 38 Degrees, the National Federation of Parks and Greenspaces and parkrun, campaigners held a picnic in Euston Square Gardens in protest against the planned felling of over 50 trees in the square for High Speed 2, as well as the loss of the nearby 3 acres of St James Gardens for 17 years.

The trees to be felled in front of Euston Station were all marked by knitted or crochet scarves tied around their trunks. The campaigners also planned to go and protest after I left outside St James Gardens, already fenced off by by hoardings to say farewell.
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Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights reclaim Pride

London. Sat 8 Jul 2017

Campaigners let off coloured flares as they led the Pride Parade down Regent St
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The Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc reclaimed Pride as protest, gate-crashing the route at Oxford Circus and marching in front of the official parade along the route lined by cheering crowds.

Pride over the years has degenerated from the original protest into a corporate glitterfest led by major corporations which use it as 'pinkwashing' to enhance their reputation and it includes groups such as the Home Office, arms companies and police whose activities harm gay people in the UK and across the world.

The Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc was led by Movement for Justice and included Lesbians & Gays Support The Migrants, No Pride in War and London Supports Istanbul Pride. Meeting away from the main march at Marble Arch, they made their way to join it at Oxford Circus, expecting to join the main march but were refused entry by Pride stewards.

The official Pride organisers this year were attempting to strictly limit those who could take part in the procession, with only those who had applied to take part officially and been granted permission being issued with armbands allowing their members to go on the route. In previous years the event has been open to anyone who wished to take part, who could join on towards the end of the parade as the Migrant Rights and Anti-Racist bloc did last year.

This year their protest was much more effect and visible as they occupied the Pride route in front of the stewards and refused to move, holding up the start of the official parade. Eventually police persuaded the Pride stewards that the only solution was to let them go along the route in front of the official parade, and they did so, marching the length of the route a few minutes ahead of the rest of the march to cheers from the spectators crowding the route.

At the end in Whitehall they held a brief rally before dispersing, but some protesters, mainly form 'No Pride In War' lay down on the road in protest against the presence of military groups in the official parade, which was halted at Trafalgar Square for around 15 minutes before police eventually told those blocking the road that they would be arrested unless they moved. They decided they had made their point and got up, allowing the parade to continue to its dispersal point.
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Cleaners protest at Facebook HQ

London. Fri 7 Jul 2017

Cleaners protest outside Facebook's London offices for a living wage and proper management
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The Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) protested outside Facebook's offices in London against the 'Ugly Face of Facebook' calling for the cleaners there to be paid the London Living Wage and for a proper investigation into allegations of racism, bullying and nepotism by the managers on site.

There are two redundant levels of management at these offices; rather than employing cleaners directly, Facebook uses the property management company JLL who in turn use Peartree cleaning services to employ the cleaners; money which should go to the workers goes to these unnecessary levels of management and profit.

Security staff at the site watched the protest, leading away several people who tried to interfere with it, and CAIWU were thanked for shortening their planned noisy protest to avoid undue interference with a community Mela taking place in the square.

Several people from Peartree also came to watch the protest and their commercial director Stuart Conroy came for a brief discussion with the protest organiser Alberto Durango after the protest ended.
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Pub Jiro

Horse and Groom, Streatham, London. Thu 6 Jul 2017
London historian Mireille Galinou (centre) talks with a visitor at one of the Café Jiro tables
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For a week in July, artist Jiro Osuga transformed the function room of the Horse & Groom on Streatham High Rd into an art installation celebrating the launch of 'The Streatham Sketchbook', a collaboration between him and London historian Mireille Galinou, the first of a new series focusing on the theme of 'The Artist in the City'. The show was a part of this year's Streatham Festival.

Jiro Osuga was born in Japan but grew up in the UK and studied painting at Chelsea College of Art and the Royal College of Art. Represented by Flowers Gallery he has exhibited mostly in London and New York but lives and works in Streatham.

The centre piece of the exhibition was several panels from his 'Café Jiro', an extraordinary immersive installation which previously transformed the Flowers Mayfair gallery into an imaginary café. Also included were 'The Man of the Crowd', an eerie group of life-sized self-portraits, and some of the artist's playful interactive works.
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Stop Killing Londoners Road Block

Marylebone Rd, London, Wed 5 Jul 2017
The group stopped traffic for around ten minutes in protest against air pollution
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Rising Up hosted a brief 'Staying Alive' road-block disco on the east-bound carriageway of the Marylebone Road near Baker St to raise awareness about the terribly high pollution levels on London streets caused largely by traffic.

They walked onto a pedestrian crossing, raised a banner and sat down blocking the road. A spokesperson briefly used a megaphone to explain why they were protesting and then there was disco music and people danced, holding up notices to the blocked motorists apologising for the protest but pointing out that urgent action was needed and the protest would be short.

One Volvo driver got out of his car and argued angrily, then made a half-hearted attempt to drive through the protesters, but stopped when protesters sat on the bonnet of his car. The protesters left after blocking the road for less than 10 minutes and police took no action.

London is one of the most polluted places in the UK with 10,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year. Our last mayor Boris Johnson suppressed reports on the severity of the problem rather than deal with it and few people seem to realise that we have such a terrible problem. The protest is the first in a series of peaceful direct actions London-wide aimed at getting everyone to know about it and to act together to get effective action to cut air pollution in the capital.
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Haringey Residents protest housing sell-off

Wood Green, London. Mon 3 Jul 2017

Angry campaigners at the council offices bang on the windows and hold up posters and placards
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Hundreds, including many whose homes are under threat of demolition, marched from Duckett's Common to a protest at Haringey Council where a cabinet meeting was expected to approve the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), Britain’s biggest collaboration yet between a local authority and a property developer, which will demolish a third of Haringey's social housing, handing over half of an estimated £2 billion worth of publicly owned housing estates, schools, public facilities and private housing acquired through compulsory purchase orders to developer Lendlease.

The HDV is being imposed without proper public consultation and is being pushed through by a small cabinet of the Labour council and will hand huge profits to Lendlease. Opposed by many in the borough's Labour Parties, trade unionists, Greens, tenants, small businesses and community groups, it will price most existing residents out of the area in a massive wave of social cleansing.

Well over 500 people surrounded Haringey Civic Centre and after a noisy protest outside some made a rush to get into the building. Security and police stopped all but a few of them and locked the building so even some councillors coming for the meeting could not get in. The protesters then banged noisily on doors and windows around the building and held a rally on the steps of the main entrance.
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Tories Out March

London. Sat 1 Jul 2017

Class War wrap a march steward in their banner at the start of the march
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A large march of around 20,000 people organised by the People's Assembly Against Austerity met at the BBC and marched to Parliament Square calling for Theresa May and the Conservatives to go.

May's snap election failed to deliver a majority and we now have a government propped up the DUP, a deeply bigoted party with links to Loyalist terrorists and bribed to support her. The election showed a rejection of her austerity austerity policies and the Grenfell Tower disaster underlined the toxic effects of Tory failure and privatisation of building regulations and inspection and a total lack of concern for the lives of ordinary people. The protesters, many of whom chanted their support of Jeremy Corbyn, say the Tories have proved themselves unfit to govern. They demand a decent health service, education system, housing, jobs and living standards for all.

But although the great majority of the marchers were singing in support of Jeremy Corbyn, there were a number of groups on the march who were also critical of Labour, particularly over the housing policies, with London Labour boroughs demolishing council estates and colluding with huge property developers to replace them with expensive and largely private housing. It is a massive land grab, giving away public land often at far below market value and pricing the former residents out of London in what they call 'regeneration' but is quite clearly a process of social and ethnic cleansing.

Many of the councillors most deeply involved in this process end up in highly paid jobs, either moving to work for the developers or in organisations set up by councils to manage their estates - such as the TMO responsible for the unsafe condition of Grenfell Tower. These bodies enable the councils to hide information about what is actually going on - like appointing consultants who advise them on circumventing adequate fire inspections - while not being subject to Freedom of Information requests.

Class War in particular had come along to challenge Labour on the party's continuing support - even under Jeremy Corbyn - for this social cleansing that so many London Labour councils are pursuing, getting rid of social housing. The Guardian in 2015 reported that in the previous decade London lost 8,000 social housing homes, and the process is accelerating.

One estate already demolished was the Heygate at Elephant & Castle, a well-designed estate deliberately run down by the council over at least a decade, but still in remarkably good condition. It cost Southwark Council over £51m to empty the estate of tenants and leaseholders, and in 2007 had valued the site at £150m, yet they sold it for a third of its market value to developers Lendlease for £50m. Heygate had over a thousand council homes and another 189 leaseholders. The replacement by Lendlease will have just 82 social rented homes - despite the council having promised to around 500 tenants they moved out they would be able to return. Leaseholders were given compensation which was only around a third of the cost of the new homes being built on the estate and many had to move far out of London. Southwark's claim that they would get some of Lendlease's large profits on the redevelopment appear unlikely, though several senior Council officers involved in the regeneration have gone on to work for Lendlease.

The Heygate is just one of many estates that Labour Councils either have already given away to private developers or are intending to do so (and to be fair, so also are the few Tory London boroughs.) Haringey is currently making plans to sell off and demolish over 5,000 homes, roughly one third of its stock. Class War brought with them posters listing the 155 London council estates currently under threat from Labour Councils.

And later at the rally in Parliament Square - though unfortunately I wasn't there to photograph it - Lisa Mckenzie, on the right in the picture above, confronted both Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn with this, and asked the simple question ‘When are you going to stop Labour councils socially cleansing people out of London?’. Both men simply ignored her and walked away. Soon the small Class War group was surrounded by Labour Party supporters holding up placards to hide them and idiotically chanting ‘Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn! Oh, Je-re-my Cor-byn!’ But it's a question that isn't about to go away.
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London Images

July 2017

London's waste on its way downriver
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