Tag Archives: downing street

Don’t Attack Syria – London protest pics

For this protest, called by the Stop the War Coalition with only a couple of days’ notice, police had cordoned off the southbound carriageway of Whitehall, and StWC had set up a small stage in front of Downing Street. Similar gatherings were taking place, we were told, in 30 towns and cities across the UK.

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The protest, called for midday, continued to grow over the next couple of hours as a variety of speakers took the stage, and I’d estimate at least 2,000 attended in all.

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After John Rees spoke for the coalition, the first big celeb speaker, dressed in a very pricey-looking grey winter coat, was Brian Eno, who spoke from the heart about the illogicality of a military “solution”.

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After a typically rousing effort from Owen Jones, we heard from Green deputy, Dr. Shahrar Ali, and then Sabby Dahlu from ‘Stand Up Against Racism’, who spoke passionately about the right-wing media demonisation of Muslims, and the resulting rise in racist attacks.

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A heartfelt and honest speech from the massively talented actor Mark Rylance, was followed by well-honed oration from George Galloway.

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Next on was Tariq Ali, who used to write regularly in the Guardian, but, in talking about the media frenzy over Corbyn, Paris, and a Syria attack, admitted he can no longer bear to read it. His speech reminded us of the long-standing plan, exposed many years ago by ex-NATO supreme commander, General Wesley Clark, to “take out” a series of countries in the Middle East, including Syria. This story was backed up recently by the revelation from French Foreign Affairs minister, Roland Dumas, that UK officials confessed to “preparing something”, an organised invasion of rebels into Syria, more than two years ago.

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By 1.30, with the south carriageway pen full to overflowing, police had given up trying to persuade protesters outside Downing Street to move over the road, and with the pavement full there too, some folk decided to invade the north carriageway and completely block the road.

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Sergeant Dearden is often seen at protests carrying out surveillance in his National Domestic Extremist Unit role, but on this occasion he was in charge of police operations and wearing Inspector epaulettes. After sending in some Police Liaison Officers to gather intelligence and try persuasion, he then brought in some TSG officers to push people off the road and allow some traffic through.

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However, demonstrators were persistent, and staged a sit-down, at which point, police closed off the carriageway at Parliament Square, where they listened to the final speaker, Dianne Abbott, who had been delayed travelling, as she brought greetings of solidarity from the Labour leadership.

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As the protest pen cleared, and traffic began to pass south, a little after 2.30, people began to drift away from the sit-down, and cleared the road by about 2.45.

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There is another protest planned at Parliament for 6pm on Tuesday IF the government announces a vote to take place on Wednesday. Check stopwar.org.uk for new information on this.

UPDATE – announcement HAS been made, so Wednesday debate, and emergency protest at Parliament 6pm Tuesday 1st August

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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.

Paul Mobbs – Arrest the Cabinet

It’s been awhile since a blog update, mainly because I’ve been busy making films.

I’ve been working with Real Media covering their Manchester pre-launch conference. Also doing some editing for Bez’s Reality Party. Some more stuff for the Talk Fracking campaign, and a series of gigs and actions with the anti-consumerist ‘preacher’, Reverend Billy, over with his 12-piece Stop Shopping Choir from the States.

So this is the first of a few posts pulling some of my favourites together, beginning back in March when ecological researcher and futurologist Paul Mobbs attempted to get the Cabinet arrested, and when Downing Street police refused to help, he tried to perform a citizen’s arrest, before eventually being arrested himself under a Road Management section of the Terrorism Act.

His ‘Frackademics‘ research presents a compelling case against members of the Cabinet of misconduct in public office over their support for fracking in the UK. Before his arrest, he handed a dossier to police and they later gave him an official crime number relating to his evidence against David Cameron et al, so in theory, the Police claim they are investigating his allegations.

He will be representing himself in his own court case which is currently scheduled for August.

The film was a collab with Gathering Place Films.

Occupy returns to Parliament Square

This morning, Occupy activists began another weekend occupation of Parliament Square. Once again, fences have gone up, not just around the grass (supposedly closed for repairs), but also around all the concreted areas, along with high fences around the grass in front of the Supreme Court at the rear of the Square.

GLA notices state that the Square is closed to the public, and warn that “failure to comply with a reasonable request from an authorised officer is a criminal offence” – this begs the question, what is “reasonable”? It’s hard to get any “reason” for the closure, mainly because if the authorities admit it is in order to stop protest, they will fall foul of human rights law, so they contort themselves into totally unreasonable knots to avoid stating the bleeding obvious.

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Unperturbed, the activists set up on the pavement at the front of the Square, sitting on a tarpaulin to listen to various speakers throughout the day, including a fascinating history of squatting and squatting law by Phoenix.

Pheonix on squatting

They received regular honks of support from passing motorists, who could hardly miss the huge “Real Democracy” banner held throughout the day by several volunteers.

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Banner

Policing was fairly low-key for much of the day, but very intelligence-led, with FIT photographers working there this morning, a very high definition camera on a stalk above an unmarked van parked up behind the gates at Parliament, and some Police Liaison Officers, who showed their real agenda by mainly liaising with the Heritage Wardens rather than the activists.

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Police surveillance camera

Meanwhile, up the road at Downing Street, there was a protest about fuel poverty, with two men stripped down to Bermuda shorts, occasionally joined by a third, braving the cold in solidarity with the growing number of UK citizens unable to heat their homes.

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Fuel Poverty at Downing St

They are promoting Fuel Poverty Action’s “Energy Bill of Rights” which you can find out how to support by visiting their website.

Occupy have announced that 30 volunteers are holding the protest area overnight, and you can see their full programme of events for tomorrow here.

UPDATE – around 8pm, activists opened the barriers and asserted their rights to enter the Square. Some activists sat on a tarpaulin and a large number of police with no more pressing business (must be a very quiet crime night in London) arrived on the scene.

Stop The War (again)

The ‘Stop The War’ Coalition called an emergency rally at short notice tonight outside Downing Street in response to the news that Parliament is recalled tomorrow to vote (or as the Guardian put it, “endorse”) air strikes on Iraq.

This time we have apparently been invited to bomb by Iraq itself, and the urgency is due to the uber-violence of ISIS/ISIL who are marauding across oil-rich areas and taking control by wiping out opposition.

The issue seems to have split some of the usual anti-war activists and the Left, who are joining in the mantra that “we must do something”, and with the only “something” on offer from our decrepit leadership being air strikes, then this is what we must do, in order to stop the bloodshed.

I have no doubt that the so-called Islamists (who seem to have left all spirituality behind), are committing terrible acts of genocide, but there are three issues I have a problem with. The first is that ISIS/L has come out of the same groups that “we” were arming, training, funding, and cheering on in their fight against the evil dictator Assad in Syria. Second, they are so successful at recruitment, because they can point to the Iraq war, and to the atrocities committed by Israel towards which the West not only turn a blind eye, but actively continue to support, with massive aid and military equipment. And third, the West often turns a blind eye to genocide (take the Congo for example), but for some reason (erm, let me think, could it be strategic and oil-related) this one demands immediate intervention.

Something must be done, yes, and if the real “we” who would like the right thing done, had control of the military might of the US, France and the UK, then just maybe, some strategic air-strikes might be a temporary and stop-gap answer of sorts. But to believe for one second that what “we” want done, in any way aligns with what the US military-industrial complex wants done, is naive and dangerous.

Their air strikes will be to protect their interests, not civilians, and even if for one second we believe they want to wipe out ISIS/L, they won’t be able to, because like Al-Qaeda, ISIS/L is an idea as much as it is a physical movement, and it is an idea that is ever more reinforced by Western military intervention. And let’s not forget, in the Orwellian dystopia being created, perpetual war IS the real aim, so it just won’t suit the US and its allies to actually wipe out their enemy, just be seen to carry on fighting them, while bringing in more and more control and surveillance on their populations at home in the name of security (see for instance today’s vote and likely passing into law next Tuesday in Australia of the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill).

So what CAN we do. Well, how about cutting off military and other funding and aid to Israel until it is brought to account for its broken UN resolutions and its war crimes. And how about cutting off aid and military equipment to Turkey until it sorts out its human rights abuses on the Kurds. And how about moving away from fossil fuel economy, and moving the massive subsidies currently given to oil over to renewables, creating jobs and clean energy and energising Western economies with sustainable growth in these areas.

If we started truly doing those things, ISIS/L would find it a lot lot harder to recruit, and we could start replacing the morally bankrupt UN and NATO with a proper International Court of Justice based on Universal Human Rights and strict adherence to the International laws of war.

It won’t save those currently facing aggression in the Middle East, but Obama’s bombing strategies can only lead to more bloodshed too.

So for me, the message, “Don’t Bomb Iraq’ is as right now as it was in 2003, and people should not be beguiled by the ‘we must do something’ rhetoric of the warmongers.

The Stop the War coalition (of which I am not a member) have called for a Central London protest on Saturday. As usual there is no suggestion of civil disobedience, so it will further sap the energies of the people who come along, and is extremely unlikely to stop any wars. History has shown over and over again, that only when the powerful are truly challenged through creative and disobedient mass movements, can change occur. So while I support their message, I can’t support their tactics. It didn’t stop the Iraq war last time, and there are even fewer of them this time. Time to step up. Yes, “we” must do something!

For what it’s worth, some pics from tonight’s protest opposite Downing Street – some good people there.

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