Deaths in Custody

United Families & Friends Campaign take part in the 20th annual remembrance procession down Whitehall in London.

On Saturday, members of the UFFC, a coalition of family and friends of individuals who have died in the custody of police, prison officers and other authorities, delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street.

In 2017/2018, twenty-three people died in or following police custody, the highest number in 10 years.

Above left and below: Remembering Kevin Clark who died in southeast London last month after being restrained by up to 9 police officer while having a mental health crisis.

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So far there has never been a successful prosecution for manslaughter following a death in custody, despite unlawful killing verdicts in coroner’s inquests. The last time a police officer was successfully prosecuted for the death of somebody in custody was in 1969.

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Seni Lewis’s mother Ajibola. In 2010, Olaseni Lewis, a 23-year-old IT graduate, collapsed at Bethlem Royal Hospital after being restrained by 11 police officers. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead three days later.
In October 2017, six cops were cleared of any wrong doing.  After the coroner ruled out a finding of unlawful killing, the jury identified a litany of failures by both police and medical staff that contributed to Lewis’s death. “The excessive force, pain compliance techniques and multiple mechanical restraints were disproportionate and unreasonable. On the balance of probability, this contributed to the cause of death”.

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top left: Nuno Cardoso, a law student, died in a police van after he was arrested in Oxford last year.

bottom left: Lisa, the sister of Mark Cole who died when police tasered him in Falmouth in 2017.

right: Leroy Junior Medford, father of seven, died in police custody in Reading on April 2. 2017.

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Mark Cole, 30 yrs old and father of two, died after being tasered in 2017.

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Raj Mahay (left) thirty years on is still campaigning for a fresh investigation into the death of his mother Kishni Mahay who was killed by a speeding police car in 1989.

The Royal Albert Hall and a new Sony camera

I was very pleased to have my photograph win the ‘Historic’ category of The British Life Photography Awards and to have another image “highly commended” .

The exhibition and book were launched this week and will be on view at The Royal Albert Hall until the end of February and then go on tour.

Alan and fellow workers on midday break at Sandy Lane pub in Aston, Birmingham.

I took above in 1978 as part of a two year documentary project on industries in the West Midland. Everyday at midday the drop hammers at Smith’s Forgings stopped and the forge became silent for an hour. All the workers vacated to the pub round the corner. It was the only other building still standing amongst the encroaching urban decline in the shadows of Spaghetti junction.

This second image was taken in at The Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company in Sudbury, West Suffolk in the 1990s.

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The sounds and atmosphere transported me back 100 years. The mill was founded in 1903, during the diaspora of overtaxed weavers from the East End of London. Today it’s one of the few remaining commercial silk mills in England and is still using the original Hattersley looms.

Stop the Slave Trade in Libya

Hundreds protested outside the Libyan Embassy, calling for the British Government to put pressure on Libya to end slavery and the inhumane treatment of migrants.

Libya, the main transit point for refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe by sea, is estimated to have tens of thousands currently being held in camps, as well as being detained by people smugglers and armed militia.

Conditions in the centers have been described as “horrific,” and among other abuses, migrants are vulnerable to being sold off as laborers in slave auctions.  As Leonard Doyle (Director of Media and Communications for the IOM in Geneva) said “they become commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value,”

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The United Security Council expressed grave concern about the recent reports from Tripoli amounting to the “heinous abuses of human rights”.

Whilst slavery has a long history in Libya, the recent CNN footage has sparked worldwide outrage and brought the issue to the forefront in the media as it is considered to be the first hard evidence of 21st-century slave trade in Africa.  Parliament is due to debate the petition on December 18th.  Let’s not allow this abuse to be ignored !!!

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Smith’s Drop Forge 1978: now published

Very pleased to have another book published this month by Cafe Royal Books

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These photos were originally part of 2 year project “Vulcan’s Forge” which became an exhibition and book.  In 1978, I was funded by West Midlands Arts to document the industries of the area.

Smiths’ Forgings, in the Aston area of Birmingham, was a typical small firm. It began in 1910 and by the ’70s was producing the majority of ‘male-female couplings’ for British articulated lorries. Most of the workers had been there for their entire working lives and many were from the same family.

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The work was tough. Red-hot furnaces heated the raw metal, which was then placed under a 35-hundredweight hammer; a rope released the ratchet, and the hammer dropped about nine feet to stamp the metal into shape. There were nine hammers, the oldest of which was seventy years old, the youngest thirty-five. The noise was deafening. Accidents occurred, but the men had no thought of changing jobs. The hammers were referred to as “Jim’s” or “Bob’s”. They belonged to the men who worked them, a testament to the closeness felt for their company and work. “We do things in the old fashioned way here,” they said with pride, “there are a great many things that only a man over fifty still understands… Any child could work in the modern forges, but we are the real stampers.”

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order direct from Cafe Royal Books

(or )     For a £10 signed copy email: wiedelphoto@googlemail.com

(Please note: All photographs on this site are copyrighted and must not be copied in any form without permission)

NEW BOOK: ‘Black Power / Black Panthers’ 1969

Very pleased that Cafe Royal Books has published my book/Zine: ‘Black Power / Black Panthers’. It’s now available from: Cafe Royal books-click here!

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Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had been assassinated and Black radicalism had taken over from the non-violent Civil Rights Movement. America’s urban black population were faced by rising unemployment, disintegrating public services, pervasive and systematic racism and police brutality. They decided to fight back: we shall overcome ” became “we shall overrun”.

Black power demonstration and riots in Oakland California in 1969.

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Kathleen Cleaver with Peco (on her right) and Emory Douglas, minister of culture (on her right). Black Panther Rally, Oakland California 1969

Black power march in Oakland California in the 1960's protesting the imprisonment of Huey Newton.

Protest to free Huey Newton from prison.

 

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for a  £10 signed copy email: wiedelphoto@googlemail.com

Grenfell Tower Disaster: tears and anger

Dami lives locally and knew many of those missing/dead

Wall of condolence.  The death toll is now officially at 79 but will no doubt rise to three figures.

Maria Mendy is the cousin of Mary Mendy.  Mary and her daughter Khadya Saye, a talented artist, were both killed the fire.

CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS 

REFUGEE WEEK: “IN TRANSIT” exhibition

On now at Gallery 101: The International Salvation Army Headquarters

photographs by Jacky Chapman and myself

With both the Calais Jungle and the Grande Synthe camp now razed to the ground, the 10,000 plus refugees/migrants have been disperse across France. Without the support and communal infrastructure they had managed to build in the camps they now face an even more precarious and vulnerable future.

Hopefully our photographs will provide a lasting record of the ingenuity and humanity of those who having been forced to leave their homelands in order to find a place of safety, were able to form an alternative community and an environment that could help them survive with some dignity (including places of worship, shops, and schools).

All this now destroyed!

Inj Transit Exhibition

…”In Transit’s considerable power emerges through the effective interweaving of multiple dimensions. From the general to the intimate, from the distant to the near and from the graphic to the human, the photographs offer a carefully balanced range of perspectives. In so doing they build towards a sensitive, and much needed, recovery of a time and place whose memory, and one-time residents, now seem vulnerable to multiple modes of disappearance. This recovery eschews both nostalgia for and dismissal of what has been lost. The squalor and implied violence of the camps are here, but theirs is the sotto voice. The emphasis instead falls upon glimpses of lives carried on through adversity. In this sense the exhibition seems underwritten by the motto which one photograph shows written on the wall a young man from Darfur’s room: ‘never give up’…  review by Erica Zimmermann  in Photomonitor

Yemeni Bodegas Close down, NYC

Over a thousand Yemeni-Americans closed down their bodegas (24 hr grocery stores) in protest against Donald Trump’s executive order banning US entry to travelers from Yemen and six other predominantly Muslim countries. Around 5,000 supporters gathered at Borough House in Brooklyn (New York City)  to show their patriotism to the USA and their anger at the immigration ban. The “shut down” aimed to demonstration to the public the important contribution the Yemeni community makes to the economic and social fabric of the city.

At 5.30 as the sun set, the crowd fell silent and hundreds lined up for prayer.

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Mass Deportation Charter flights

Every week UK charter flights carrying deportees and guards depart for Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

March against mass deportation orgainised by Movement for Justice. Demanding UK government stop mass deportation via charter flights targeting the black and Asian communities.Every 2 months charter flights transport deportees to Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Jamaica and Afghanistan.

Movement for Justice marched through Brixton protesting the targeting of long-established African, Asian and Caribbean communities in Britain – dividing families and deporting people who have built lives in the UK, who have parents, partners and children here, people who have lived most of their lives in Britain, students who have not finished their courses, those who have sought asylum and protection, people with serious health problems and others who are long-term carers to elderly and disabled relatives.
The targeting of so many people who are integrated members of their communities and wider society is a divisive act of racist discrimination.

March against mass deportation orgainised by Movement for Justice. Demanding UK government stop mass deportation via charter flights targeting the black and Asian communities.Every 2 months charter flights transport deportees to Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Jamaica and Afghanistan.

In 2013, Corporate Watch published a research report titled “Collective Expulsion: the case against mass deportation charter flights”.
Today, not much has changed:
“The UK continues to make political deportation deals with governments of its former colonies and war zones. Almost 2,000 people a year are still loaded onto secretive night flights from Stansted airport, handcuffed by private security ‘escorts’, in one of the most brutal facets of the detention and deportation regime…….. https://corporatewatch.org/news/2017/jan/06/deportation-charter-flights-collective-expulsion-2017

‘In Transit’ Exhibition

An exhibition on the Calais Jungle and Dunkirk Refugee Camps by Jacky Chapman and myselfIn Transit Exhibition

On the same week that we hammered our photographs up on the wall, 10,000 people were evicted from the Calais Jungle and the remaining structures were razed to the ground.

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We had good feedback from our first venue which was really rewarding:

“In Transit provided us with a platform to engage student across the curriculum and wider cultural, social, global and most importantly humanitarian issues that are to often skewed by social media and the press. Jacky and Janine’s sensitive and extremely well observed photos engaged our students from Year 6 up to Year 13 into these wider global issues and our responsibilities.  

The exhibition brings the migrant crisis literally to our doorstep, the powerful visuals evoke and provoke a reaction. These are insights and detail we are not used to seeing, the day to day living in the camps, the true reality of refugee’s situations. The exhibition opens the door to wider conversations and deeper understanding and empathy.  As well as invaluable educational stimulus across many subject areas (Geography, History, PSHE, RT, Art, Architecture, English) it teaches our students about their place in the world to make positive change”.    Sue Mulholland Director of Art, Dulwich College

Below: a small selection from the exhibition. photographs © Janine Wiedel

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Irish Tinkers, Travellers in the 1970s

Very pleased to have my photographs in Life Force ‘the magazine of the photo-essay’ .

From IRISH TINKERS, A portrait of Irish Travellers in the 1970s

CLICK HERE!!!

Black Lives Matter – London Solidarity

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“Black Lives Matter”! Over a thousand people marched through Central London to show their solidarity with the hundreds of black Americans who have died at the hand of police officers in recent years and outraged by the most recent shootings of two unarmed black men: Alton Sterling from Louisiana and Philando Castile from  Minnesota.

 

 

 

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“Hands up Don’t shoot”

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Kurds ask Britain to Break the Silence

Kurds ask UK government to Break their Silence and Stop Supporting Turkish State War on Kurds & end mass murder of the Kurdish people in Turkey. March & Rally central London

The Kurdish march was charged with emotion and anger. The aim was to break the silence of the UK media and government regarding Turkey’s war on and persecution of this resilient community. Currently Turkey’s entrance into the EU as well its geographical position next to Syria play a major roll in silencing the West on human rights issues. Once again the Kurds were automatically blamed for the latest bombing in Ankara.

The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) have been labelled terrorists by President Erdogen. Over the years, Turkey’s long battle against them has resulted in more than a quarter of a million people being driven from their homes. In the past four months, state security forces have killed 268 civilians as tanks and heavy artillery are being used on densely populated communities in southern Turkey.

Kurds ask UK government to Break their Silence and Stop Supporting Turkish State War on Kurds & end mass murder of the Kurdish people in Turkey. March & Rally central London

The Kurdish history is long and complex and as I am currently trying to understand it myself so won’t attempt to write it down! I just spent the weekend with the Iraqi Kurds in Dunkirk and heard many personal stories of the horrifying persecution they suffered and in this case hopefully escaped from.

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Speak up and help to end the mass murder of the Kurdish people

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British Life Photography Awards 2016

Last night I enjoyed seeing the wide selection of images on view at The Mall Gallery private viewing of British Life Photography Awards. I was really pleased to have winners in two categories (‘Life at Work’ and ‘Historic’).  I also had two further images highly commended and eight included in the book published by Dewi Lewis.

While feeling a bit “historic” as I look at my older images, it also made me reflect on how much photography has changed.  Perhaps the biggest change being that today we have the luxury of instantly seeing/checking that we have captured the image. In the past we were shooting in a sense blind and then worrying until the film emerged from the tank (far too late to re-shoot). Those long days in the darkroom with chemicals are now substituted by unhealthy hours in front of a screen working with hyper sharp pixels. With the democratization of photography many of our skills are now redundant but in the end I guess it has always depended on how you use the images and what you want to say with them.

Anti-Apartheid and free Nelson Mandela march & rally in London in the 1985

Winner of “Historic”:   Standing up Against Apartheid 1985

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Winner of “Work in the community” : Throwing & Winding at Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company in Sudbury Suffolk UK

Police resting while policing the Grunwick protest London 1976

Resting with the Queen at Grunwick protest London 1976 (highly commended)

Grunwick (film processing company) strike and protests in London 1977

Tea for the Boys,  Willesden North London 1976 (highly commended)

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Off to Brighton on Annual London to Brighton Vintage car race

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Waiting on the Verge, Cheadle West Midlands

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Chain Maker at Eliza Tinsley, The Black Country Birmingham in the 1978

Riot police marching through St Agnes Place Kennington South London evicting residents from 21 houses that had been squatted for the past 30 years.

Evicting St Agnes Place Squat Kennington South London.  For over 30 years the 21 houses had been home to a fluid and diverse range of groups and individuals. Overnight 150 people were left homeless and within weeks the 21 houses were demolished.

link to book

Neo-Nazis in Dover: 30th Jan 2016

My day on Saturday was depressing and terrifying! A National Front organized anti- immigration / anti-refugee rally taking place in Dover…the main port of entry for refugees & migrants.

It began with a peaceful gathering of anti-fascist protesters listening to speeches in the town square while the right wing Neo-Nazi extremists were at the railway pub a short distance away tanking up on beer, chanting racist slogans, and making Hitler salutes.

The day quickly turned violent as the Anti-fascists stormed through the high street to confront and stop the racist march from taking place. Hundreds of riot Police screeched into action trying to separate the groups.

Unite Against Fascism UAF combating the Far Right groups at Anti-Immigration anti-Refugee rally organised by the National Front in Dover Kent January 30 2016

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Unite Against Fascism UAF combating the Far Right groups at Anti-Immigration anti-Refugee rally organised by the National Front in Dover Kent January 30 2016

Right Wing groups taking part in an Anti-Immigration anti-refugee Rally organized by the National Front in Dover Kent Jan 30th 2016

The neo-Nazis gathering

Waving Nazi /neo-Nazi 'sunwheel" flags,right wing extremist groups at an Anti-Immigration anti-refugee Rally organized by the National Front Dover Kent Jan 30th 2016

Rocks, bricks and bottles were flying through the air (weapons later retrieved by the police included lock-knifes, knuckle dusters, metal poles, pieces of wood and glass).

I lost my nerve and clambered up the steep bank but rocks still managed to reach these heights and were whizzing past the helmet I had luckily worn. As soon as they landed, the rocks were hurled back down indiscriminately hitting police/fascists or anti-fascists alike.

On my way down to get closer to the action I was suddenly charged by a neo-Nazi protester (not the one in the photo below)  wielding a large wooden plank yelling: ‘Fucking get that fucking camera fucking away”. Behind me four men jumped on a female anti-fascist protester and started kicking her. As a group of press stormed past me and I realized it was time to run!

Right Wing groups taking part in an Anti-Immigration anti-refugee Rally organized by the National Front in Dover Kent Jan 30th 2016

Right Wing groups taking part in an Anti-Immigration anti-refugee Rally organized by the National Front in Dover Kent Jan 30th 2016

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Right Wing groups taking part in an Anti-Immigration anti-refugee Rally organized by the National Front in Dover Kent Jan 30th 2016

The National Front adheres the white supremacist slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

To quote their website: “Multiracialism has been a disaster for Britain – only a policy that enforces a total ban on immigration and the humane repatriation of all immigrants and their descendants to their ancestral homelands can save this country from chaos.”

“This is OUR country and we want it back.”

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Don’t Bomb Syria

Stop the War March and protest through central London. Supporting Jeremy Corbyn and saying no to UK bombing Syria 28 November 2015 photos Janine Wiedel

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Stop the War March and protest through central London. Supporting Jeremy Corbyn and saying no to UK bombing Syria 28 November 2015 photos Janine Wiedel

“Say it Loud, Say it Clear”

Thousands march through streets of London joining in solidarity with the Refugees crisis 15 September 2015.

“Say it proud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” echoed over Central London on Saturday.

The event was emotional and electric as a hundred thousand people from all walks of life marched from Marble Arch to Parliament Square in solidarity with refugees and demanding that the government take on their responsibility in the face of the current crisis.

Britain’s offer of taking in 20,000 refugees over four years (many of whom could potentially face deportation at 18) is woefully inadequate and the EU meetings so far seem only to have strengthened “Fortress Europe”.

Thousands march through streets of London joining in solidarity with the Refugees crisis 15 September 2015.

‘We must spend our resources on helping and not hindering people and to bring about that world of human rights and justice”… ”open your hearts and open your minds and open your attitude towards supporting people who are desperate, who need somewhere safe to live, want to contribute to our society, and are human beings just like all of us.” from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech in Parliament Square

Thousands march through streets of London joining in solidarity with the Refugees crisis 15 September 2015.CLICK TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

The Big Splash

People celebrating at annual Brixton Big Splash festival

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Big Splash Annual Festival in Brixton.

The community which has been defined by Afro Caribbean heritage ever since the Windrush generation of the 40s and 50s is currently undergoing a battle against a tide of controversial changes triggered by regeneration/gentrification and financial greed.

However, on Sunday the sun was shining and all the surrounding streets felt like a mini- Notting Hill carnival with the pavements vibrating with large and small sound systems. Festival goers and locals struggled to find a free space to dance or merely to move. Windrush Square and the church grounds were more relaxed with music, crafts and picnicking. The day was good!!!!

People celebrating at annual Brixton Big Splash festival

People celebrating at annual Brixton Big Splash festivalCLICK FOR MORE PHOTOS

ANTI-AUSTERITY MARCH London June 2015

Tens of thousands march through London on anti-government Anti-Austerity protest through London 20 June 2014

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Anti-austerity march through central london June 20th 2014

Police putting out fire of burning placards in Parliament Square during Anti-austerity march central London June 20th 2014CLICK TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

It was a long day of walking and carrying heavy cameras. The march set off from crowded streets by the Bank of England and ended up in Parliament Square for a rally and speeches. The turnout was huge with nearly 150,000 people from all walks of life protesting against austerity measures. The day was mainly peaceful but there was a strong undercurrent of anger against current government policies and the targeting of public services, the young and the vulnerable.

 

Standing up against Racism 2015

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On  U.N. Anti-Racism Day, thousands marched through central London to a rally in Trafalgar Square. The message was clear: “No to Islamophobia, fascism, anti-semitism and the scapegoating of immigrants”.

Having avoided photographing protests for nearly a year I couldn’t quite stay away from this one.  A left handed challenge with my right arm in a cast.

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Dancing & Partying at Notting Hill Carnival 2014

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(Still catching up with the Summer shooting!)

It was another lively, deafening, and exhausting time at Notting Hill Carnival this year with even more chocolate to be washed off my clothes and cameras when I finally returned home. Still it is always worth going!
The annual West Indian Carnival has taken place in London since 1964. Today with a million people taking part, it has become the largest street festival in the world.

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Palestinians Protest Bloodshed in Gaza July 2014

(Been busy scanning archive so just catching up on the summer)

_NTT34825Palestinians in London calling for an end to the Israeli attacks in Gaza.  More than 1,000 Palestinians mainly civilians died in July in the fighting between Hamas and Israeli. The Israeli death toll was 43. Forty of these were soldiers. By the end of August after 50 days of fighting, the death toll for Palestinians rose to 2,137 whilst on the Israeli side  64 solders and 5 civilians were killed. _NTT34988MORE PHOTOS

Standing up Against Racism and Fascism

 

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Thousands marched through central London on United Nations International Anti–Racism Day. The day of action was inaugurated following the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa when the police brutally opened fire on a peaceful anti-apartheid protest killing 69 people and wounding 178.

The main aims are to promote diversity and to stand up to racism. In Britain and across Europe there has been a right wing political and media led increase in Islamophobia and a scapegoating of minorities including the immigrant, Roma, Black and Asian communities.

The Day also commemorated the death of Nelson Mandela

“I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

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The Shooting that Started the Riots

_NTT33209BTottenham High Street police station was closed on Saturday as friends and family of Mark Duggan gathered on the pavement outside for a vigil protesting the outcome of the inquest into his death. After months of deliberation a jury last week found that Duggan had been “lawfully killed” by the police in 2011.

A sombre and dignified mood prevailed, with anger well contained. The crowd heard powerful and heart-felt speeches from friends and family members, which pointed towards the inconsistencies and failure of the IPCC to carry out a full and transparent investigation. In contrast to the wider mediatised focus upon the infallibility of the jury, it was this failure, on the part of the IPCC to present sufficient evidence to the jury, that was being held accountable for the verdict. The conclusion echoes those reached by ‘death in custody’ campaigners – who pointed out that of the 1,476 deaths to occur after police contact or in police custody since 1990 not one has resulted in a conviction.

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The Duggan case remains marred by unresolved questions. All independent witnesses reject his shooter’s claims that Duggan had a gun in his hands at the time he was shot. No witnesses saw Duggan throw the gun, which was later found 20 feet away from his body and did not have his DNA on it. At the very least it appears, therefore, that an unarmed man was shot twice in a London street and killed by the 2nd bullet.

When the press arrived at the vigil complete with step-ladders, tripods, and multiple cameras hanging around their necks they were clearly told to stay at a distance. As Carole Duggan said: “The smear campaign began after the shooting of Mark and has been sustained by parts of the media and the police since. As in the claim that Mark ‘came from a gangster family. Mark was not a gangster … we are just an ordinary family.”

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“To keep Mark’s name alive we are not going away. We are not going to fight with violence, but there is a struggle that we are going to go through for as many years as it takes to get justice and try and give Mark’s children a future. We are not going to be swept under the carpet.”

The crowd chanted:  “No Justice, No Peace”

At the end of the vigil white doves were released as symbol of hope

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STOP THE BLOODSHED: Morsi supporters speak out

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The Egyptian crisis is escalating.  On January 25th Mohammad Morsi was “democratically” elected as President of Egypt. On July 1st he was ousted by General Sisi and the army.  The “military coup” (which the Americans insist “was not a coup”) has resulted in increasing violence with hundreds of protesters injured and killed.

On Sunday, supporters of President Morsi gathered outside Downing Street to demand an end to the bloodshed. The Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi belongs has been declared a terrorist group by the military regime currently in power and has been heavily targeted.

The protest on Sunday was peaceful but emotionally charged. The gesture with 4 fingers raised and the thumb resting on the palm is the “Rabia sign” which has come to represent the pro-Morsi movement. Rabia in Arabic means “4” referring to the deposed leader as the fourth president of Egypt after Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak.  Rabaa al-Adawiya Square is also where the recent atrocities took place and therefore the symbol distinguishes the movement from the coup supporters of Tahrir Square .

The situation, complicated by all the knitted local and international  interests, is near impossible to untangle and understand but there can be  little doubt about the horrors of the ongoing bloodshed.

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Because he was black: Trayvon Martin: No Justice

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On Saturday BARAC  (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) led a march through central London against global racism and injustice.  The march was held in solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin and the many others who have been directly affected by racism both in the UK and the USA.

The recent acquittal in the USA of George Zimmerman who in 2012 shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17 yr old African American student, has fuelled anger and highlighted the continuing importance of  the civil rights movement. Zimmerman, 29, said he opened fire on the teenager in self-defence. Last week he was acquitted of murder by a Florida court under the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

After hearing the results of the trial President Obama made a speech at a White House press briefing saying that very few black men in the US had not experienced racial profiling and that African Americans were also keenly aware of racial disparities in the application of criminal laws.

“That all contributes to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

 

“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me, 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognise that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that – that doesn’t go away.”

 

“There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of being followed in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she has a chance to get off.”

 

This August marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s march on Washington. Where does his dream stand today?

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NEVER FORGET: Sikh Temple Massacre of 1984

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Fifteen thousand Sikhs from all over the UK joined together in London on Sunday to remember the 1984 massacre in the Amritsar Golden Temple in Punjab and to call for the formation of an independent Sikh state of Khalistan.

In 1984 there was growing tension between the government of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Sikhs in the northern state of Punjab. The Sikhs felt discriminated against by the Hindu majority. On 6th June, the Indian army attacked the Golden Temple with heavy artillery and tanks. This was timed to coincide with an important Sikh celebration and thousands of pilgrims were inside the Temple complex.

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The storming of the Sikhs’ holiest shrine started months of attacks and retaliations which left thousands dead and many more thousands homeless. Eventually this ended with Indira Gandhi being assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

Last Sunday there was a dignified march through central London led by five High Priests with ceremonial swords. It ended with a rally on the Victoria embankment where there were many moving and powerful speeches asking the Indian government to accept accountability for the massacre, and calling for the Sikhs’ right to self-determination in their own home state, Khalistan.

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Guardian Interview: Irish Travellers, A Portrait of Irish Travellers in the 1970s

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Interview in the Guardian G2 on 04.04.13……It all helps!

CLICK TO READ ONLINE

Making the Poor Poorer: The Bedroom Tax

147585protest_welfare_cuts

147600protest_welfare_cuts

This week the Government’s controversial bedroom tax will once again help to make the poor poorer.  People in social housing with one spare bedroom will have their housing benefits cut by 14%, while those with two or more unoccupied rooms will see it slashed by 25%.  The tax will harm the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.  Amongst others, it particularly punishes disabled, single parents, carers, and the terminally ill.

In the long term, the policy risks increasing the cost to taxpayers because of the shortage of smaller social housing properties.  According to The National Housing Federation 85,000 one-bedroom homes became available last year. Once those places are taken up by people downsizing, the remaining 95,000 households will be faced with the choice of staying put and taking a cut in income, or renting a home in the more expensive private sector.

The Bedroom tax represents only the latest of many cuts affecting the poor. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow as the rich get tax cuts and the poor get welfare cuts.

The protest on Saturday was small but angry. The police however were out in force with police vans lined up waiting for trouble. There was none.

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