Solidarity Protest Against National Gallery Privatisation – video – 17th July 2015

A loud and boisterous protest took place inside and outside the National Gallery on Friday 17th July 2015, supported by United Voices and DPAC among others.

The demo was in solidarity with PCS workers, who face privatisation, poorer terms and conditions, and suspensions for union activities, from one of the only museums that still refuses to pay the London Living Wage.

In the face of a petition signed by tens of thousands, and questions in Parliament, the museum remains so far intransigent, and the PSC Union is stepping up strike action while other groups carry out solidarity actions like this one.

For the full story and details of how to help the campaign, see ngnotforsale.wordpress.com/

Sothebys cleaners campaign

Thurs July 16th UPDATE

A similar sized crowd arrived on Thursday evening to protest outside Sotheby’s during a staff dinner. Because the New Bond Street entrance was closed, they walked round the block a couple of times,

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but police then pushed the peaceful protesters into a pen, opposite the closed New Bond Street doors, while dinner guests used the other entrance in St George Street.

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The crowd broke away from their pen and went walking again.

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Prevented from entering St George Street, the group went up Regent Street `

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and ended up at the BBC building, hoping for some publicity. Police didn’t follow, but remained at St George Street where they conferred with Sotheby’s staff.

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ORIGINAL POST 8th JULY 2015

Four Sotheby’s cleaners were suspended last week, the day after holding a protest outside the Bond Street auction house over sick pay and wages.

Although Sotheby’s undertook to sign up as a Living Wage employer earlier this year, the multinational auction house (which sold £130 million worth of paintings on the night of that first protest), have said they will not be raising cleaners’ pay in line with the Living Wage in November. They also refuse to negotiate over introducing contractual sick pay, so anyone sick or injured faces having to carry on working in order to pay ever-spiralling London rents.

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Migrant workers in London’s service industries have formed a new independent grassroots trade union, United Voices of the World, and had won the partial but significant victory at Sotheby’s earlier in the year. But that victory has been undermined by management intransigence, and now by the unfair dismissal of four cleaners over the hotly contested claim that they intimidated guests and cost the company business at the protest on the 1st July.

So on Wednesday this week, the UVW called for support for a noise protest at Sotheby’s public auction (where works from the Earls of Carlisle collections, and Napoleon’s Pistols from the Roi de Rome were on offer).

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The protest was announced on Facebook and attracted support from various other groups including a small contingent from Class War armed with water pistols. At the height of the protest, there were up to a hundred protesters, sporting a loud array of drums, megaphones, whistles, and sirens.

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Soon after the event began, riot police forced the protesters away from the entrance and across the road. Riot vans were parked nose to tail to obscure the auction house from view, and obscure the protest from the auction house, but I think the Sotheby’s management thought the whole spectacle might look a little too oppressive for their wealthy clients, and the vans were repositioned to create a gap.

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The pavement 100 yards in each direction from the building became a “sterile area”, and in each direction, a team of three TSG officers forced ordinary members of the public to cross the road and negotiate their way through the protest, only allowing the hallowed upper classes to use the public pavement to access the auctioneers, accompanying them along the route before handing them over to the caring white-gloved hands of the Sotheby’s own private security men in their black suits.

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Meanwhile, the loud, colourful, and good-natured protest banged on through the evening, watched by police from the Domestic Extremist Unit and videoed by a FIT team as well as a specialist petapixel camera on an unmarked green van.

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That a peaceful trade union protest over wages, sick pay, and unfair dismissal should attract so much policing and be classed as potential extremism is a sad and sinister indictment of the times we live in.

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There’s a petition you might want to sign, and UVW have a facebook page if you’re interested.

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“Balls To the Budget” protest by Disabled People Against Cuts

DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) were joined by a wide range of grassroots groups to stage a hastily organised protest on the day of George Osborne’s first austerity budget since the Tory’s took power after the election this year.

Activists threw balls at Downing Street before going on an impromptu march. While a huge “Balls2TheBudget” banner was hung near St Thomas’ Hospital opposite Parliament, Westminster was brought to a standstill for several hours by a blockade of Westminster Bridge, and later, Parliament Square.

In the early afternoon, and as other Budget protesters began to arrive, police numbers built up and they moved in to clear the road, forcefully snatching the main banner, and arresting four people including one man in a wheelchair. They then deployed horses to keep people back off the road.

Bob Lambert spycop protest at London Metropolitan University

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According to Green MP Caroline Lucas, Dr Robert Lambert, Lecturer in Criminology at London Metropolitan University, is actually a serious criminal himself, having committed the criminal act of planting an incendiary device in a Debenham’s store in the 1980s, one of three arson attacks which he helped organise, causing millions of pounds worth of damage, and for which two other activists were jailed.

At that time, he was known as Bob Robinson, and was acting as an agent provocateur and spying on protest movements as a Special Branch officer in the SDS (Special Demonstration Squad).

Between 1983 and 88, he spied on peace and social justice campaign group, London Greenpeace. He also sexually exploited several female activists by entering into relationships with them, and even fathered a child with one.

After the incendiary incident he left his activist family without a word in an unimaginable breach of trust.

It was only years later that he was spotted giving a presentation at a police conference and the truth began to unravel.

Spycop whistleblower, Peter Francis, has added more evidence to the despicable tactics used by Lambert and others, and Lambert has been named in connection with police attempts to spy on and discredit the Stephen Lawrence campaign, and also to spy on Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn.

Today’s vigil outside the Met University in Holloway Road was supported by Baroness Jenny Jones who stated to the Islington Tribune that she felt “a man without a moral compass is not an appropriate person to be teaching”.

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Certainly, the women he effectively raped, think he should be held to account rather than employed by the university.

Todays’ protest was one of a series of monthly actions at the University which began last year.

For more info and contact details to write to the University and to Dr. Lambert himself, see https://islingtonagainstpolicespies.wordpress.com

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Reclaim the Power Day of Action – two new films

Monday was a busy day. After the Reclaim The Power camp near Didcot at the weekend, there were direct actions against fossil fuel industries across the UK.

My first film is of the blockade of the Institute of Directors, where the World Coal Association was holding a conference on ‘Carbon Capture Solutions’, or at least it would have been, had it not been disrupted by locks and superglued activists who for a couple of hours successfully managed to block all the public entrances to the building.

Next, to the London offices of PR giant, Edelman, for a scripted stunt involving the birth of a ‘fracked baby’.

Edelman are behind Lord Chris Smith’s “Task Force on Shale Gas”, funded by the industry, but supposedly offering independent reports on the safety and feasibility of fracking.

The stunt highlights a recent report that links fracking to an increased chance of birth defects. Last year, Greenpeace published leaked documents showing Edelman’s hand in dirty tricks to help push through the Trans-Canada tar sands oil pipeline. Its involvement in the supposedly independent Task Force is a similar tactic to try and push the Government proposal to frack up to two thirds of the UK.

(WARNING: film contains scenes some viewers may find disturbing)

Students anti-cuts protest as Queen’s Speech promises austerity.

Wednesday 27th May was the State Opening of Parliament, and people, angry at the prospect of more cuts, austerity and student debt, from a Government given total control with fewer than a quarter of the population’s vote, organised a 5pm protest via the Facebook page of National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

More than 7,000 indicated they would come, but on the night there were only a few hundred at the start of the evening, though many others came and went during the course of the next few hours, so the organisers’ claims of several thousand were probably realistic overall.

They certainly attracted many more protesters than the People’s Assembly, who despite their massive fund-raising mailing list, only mustered a few dozen people listening to lonely speakers opposite Downing Street at their 5.30 start time.

As the Trafalgar Square crowd set off down Whitehall, police tried to disrupt the People’s Assembly protest by blockading the students to force them to march through the Assembly’s static protest.

27th may 2015 on day of state opening of parliament, students take to the streets to protest against austerity, cuts, and the tories

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Despite huge numbers of police blocking the way, the students were not about to be forced to join a protest they hadn’t called. Even by Metropolitan Police standards the tactic of forcing one protest to join another seemed bizarre, and not designed to facilitate either demonstration as is their duty. So with some minor scuffles, students broke the police lines and followed their original intention marching past Downing Street towards Parliament Square.

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At the bottom of Whitehall, progress was again impeded by police vans parked across the road, and in ensuing arguments, a couple of arrests were made, but again, the police interference appeared ill-conceived and counter-productive, just building up tensions, as the marchers pushed forward into Parliament Square and on up Victoria Street.

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The authorities were expecting the procession to head towards Buckingham Palace, and several vans full of riot police waited there. However, three cheerful girls with placards were the only threat to the Queen as the rest of the students had doubled back up Whitehall towards their start point in Trafalgar Square, where they held up traffic with a sit-down protest for a while before taking to the steps and listening to a few speakers on an open microphone.

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After a sort stay there, one group of a couple of hundred set off up Charing Cross Road, while others remained in the Square. The mobile crowd picked up pace, and in doing so, lost more and more stragglers along the way, as they headed west along Oxford Street, down Regent Street, and off into Mayfair.

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By the time they arrived in Maddox Street, there were fewer than a hundred. Their destination was apparently a freshly evicted squat, guarded by bailiffs, TSG police, and two dog handlers with fiercely barking Alsatians.

It wasn’t clear whether the dog handlers were real police or private security. They certainly appeared to be impersonating police but were not displaying lapel badges. Questioned by legal observers they argued about displaying ID, but were eventually persuaded to give up their information, before entering the building.

A small crowd tried to follow them in and scuffles broke out, during which one TSG officer completely lost control and had to be forcibly restrained by several of his colleagues in scenes more reminiscent of hooliganism than professional policing.

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With access to the building clearly impossible, the small group headed off again up to Oxford Street and then down Park Lane, possibly to join the several hundred people we’d heard were now outside Downing Street with a sound system. I left them there.

Arrests at State Opening (for holding a piece of cardboard)

Amid the full pomp and circumstance of the all the Queen’s horses and all the Queen’s men, police surround a quiet and peaceful man and arrest both him and a friend of his “to prevent a breach of the peace”.

The sole reason seems to be because he is carrying, but not openly displaying, a small piece of cardboard bearing a protest message about austerity.

The Tory threat to opt out of Human Rights seems to have been pre-empted by this ‘thought police’ action today in Parliament Square.