Do you remember when we thought that occupation could change the world?
In 2011 the City was occupied, Billy Bragg played an impromptu gig in front of St Pauls and we thought that there was a chance that the world might change. The Arab Spring had just happened and there was hope in the air.
Ok the Arab Spring turned very sour, and Occupy has changed the City not one jot, but it is sometimes nice to simply remind ourselves that there are people who were willing to make a stand and willing to hope for a different future.
Below are some pictures from that year of Occupation in the City, with 2 sites, one infront of St Pauls, another on Finsbury Square and also of the smaller Occupy Nottingham.
Apparently, there is a Chinese proverb that says – may you live in turbulent times. Or maybe it doesn’t but the last 12 months has been a solid demonstration-fest as the country splits and disagrees about everything. I realised today that I have covered umpteen demos, marches and protests.
Its only March and I have already been to 2 major demos – who knows how many more there will be this year.
Today, the 29th March was supposed to be Brexit Day. Except, because of 3 failed Meaningful Votes, or perhaps votes with no meaning, in Parliament Brexit has been deferred – and/or cancelled.
Last week I shot the People’s Vote March so this week I decided to go to the Brexit supporting demo in Parliament Square. The People’s Vote march was reportedly 1 million people, the Brexit demo, several thousand.
The demos were materially different, the Remain, full of families and young children. The Brexit demo, full of angry (generally) men. I was frightened, I have to say, there was a definite sense that the media and photographers were not particularly welcome.
The demos filling the square and the bottom of Whitehall were in fact 2 demos. First a Tommy Robinson Brexit Demo and a Vote Leave demo. Plus there was a rather bizarre French Demo in favour of Brexit. The Vote Leave Demo had a number of speakers I had heard of including the arch priest of Brexit – Nigel Farage.
I have just come back from shooting the People’s Vote Demo in London on Saturday. Normally, I would blog about the wacky, snarky, sarcastic and funny placards that I saw. There probably will be a post about that however I wanted to highlight something that I noticed and have noticed at various Remainer demos.
Where are the Union Jacks?
When you go to a Remainer demo it is clear that they are for Europe by the number of EU flags that they carry.
So there were the odd Union Flag they were out numbered 20 or 30 to 1.
Why is this? When I look at myself, I realise that I really don’t like Brexit, but I am very proud of being British, English and I really love my flag. Many years ago I used to go to an American/International School and would wear a Union Flag badge on my jacket.
But if I compare this with the right-wing demo that I covered last year, you see a sea of Union Flags or St George’s Flags.
I absolutely disagree with the sentiments of the posters, however there is a definite pride in the Union Flag or St George’s Flag. Why is this?
Why do the Remainers feel uncomfortable with showing the Union Flag?
Why are the centre and left uncomfortable with carrying the flag?
I know I am proud of being a Brit and have no fear of standing under the flag. Yes Britain, isn’t. the most worthy nation in the world, however in the Remainers not being willing to stand under the flag, they do rather make the point of the Brexiteers about being more interested in Europe than their own nation.
I visited the Nottinghill Carnival on the Bank Holiday. The recent fire at Grenfell Tower was a close and present experience, with lots of graffiti like this
And this trying to express, grief, anger, solidarity and strength all at the same time
London’s motifs like the Underground symbol had been co-opted to become the theme of the the Carnival
These symbols told their own story, for people who weren’t there and who like me can’t really know the depth of pain that the local community are going through.
However, by Latimer Road tube station, under the Westway there is a more simple and powerful memorial. Against one of the concrete columns that holds the road up is a collection of homemade posters. Some ask why, some ask for prayer, some ask if bystanders know the whereabouts of the missing. I have only seen similar posters in photographs taken in Post War Germany where people try to locate their missing family members. This was not, however, history, this was the 21st Century and expression of grief and loss in the now, not the past.
I have hesitated to post these pictures but feel, on reflection, that the place needs to be recorded as the images speak with an eloquence and power that is hard to improve on. The loss at Grenfell Tower cannot be ignored, it cannot be rubbed out or removed. As you pass on the Tube you can see the tower.
These pictures sum up a community’s loss and call for, not only empathy, but justice.