Reclaim Love Street Party

I walked through Piccadilly Circus in the rain on Saturday to meet a friend for dinner at my favourite Moroccan Restaurant in Covent Garden (Souk Medina). People were standing around smiling with cardboard signs that announced “Free hugs”. Turns out I caught the tail end of the annual Reclaim Love street party, but I didn’t have my camera with me. Nelson Pereira did however and added these shots below to the LLO Flickr pool to share with you and there are a few more in his photo set as well. I think some of them really capture the energy and enthusiasm.

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

Reclaim Love street party in Piccadilly - London

The Reclaim Love party happens every year and is a bit of a protest of sorts against the commercialised “love” frenzy that is Valentine’s Day. The organisers encourage people to show up, sing, dance, listen to music, talk about what love means to them and generally have a “love”-ly day out.

Have any of you ever attended?

Here’s a little video I found on YouTube from this year’s event:

If you have a sec, check out Nelson’s new photography Facebook page.

Occupy Camp Pics

I made it over to St. Paul’s to check out the Occupy camp a few days ago (albeit in the dark…), but haven’t had a chance to sort out my own photos yet.  Where the Art Is sure did though, and got some great shots that were added to the LLO Flickr pool. So, here we go, a little photo essay for you today:

What do you guys think of Occupy? Have you seen it or maybe even participated? 

For a chance to be featured on the blog, add your London photos to the Flickr pool!

PS – Don’t forget to join in on the first LLO Giveaway! Super easy to enter.

Burritos Have Rights at Daddy Donkey

A new “kick ass” Mexican grill called Daddy Donkey has popped up over near Brick Lane. (The word “burrito” means “little donkey” in Spanish.) I walked by last weekend to a bit of a fiesta with song and playful protest for the rights of burritos going on. Apparently there are a few other burrito-mobiles around, but this one is the biggest.

Daddy Donkey

Burritos Have Rights

Burrito Protest

Legalise Burrito

Anyone try it out yet?

Parliament Square Protests for Peace

Peace Camp in Parliament Square

A rainbow-striped peace flag flaps in the sudden warm breeze as Big Ben sounds twice, early afternoon. Sprawled across the green patch of Parliament Square are canvas tents, bent cardboard signs and placards, a few stray sandals and water jugs and a refreshing atmosphere of activism.

Guitars for Peace

There’s a battered old guitar stripped of paint laying on the ground, a bare-footed girl sitting cross-legged in the sun and a middle-aged man in a baseball cap patting a new plant into the circular peace garden they’ve created in the centre.

Peace Garden

They want to stop the war. They want to make borders redundant. They want freedom.

Flip Flops and Freedom

They call it the Democracy Village, this group that has set up camp around Brian Haw’s famous protest.  (However, Brian’s website states in bright red letters that his ongoing protest has “no connection or affiliation whatsoever with ‘Democracy Village’ which came here on May 1st 2010.”)

Democracy Village

Brian, Parliament Square’s world-famous protester, has been camping out in the square for3,294 days now. That’s just over nine years that he’s been living under a tent, eating whatever food his supporters offer, washing in a bucket and sitting in the sun or snow smoking enough cigarettes to give him a nasty cough. Apparently an anonymous washroom attendant in Westminster tube station’s public toilets charges his phone so he can keep in touch with the world outside the square.

Brian Haw 3

I walked up to Brian who was sitting in a fold-up chair, the crutches he uses to walk leaning against the sides. He was staring out at the Houses of Parliament with striking blue eyes, his signature badge-covered helmet casting a shadow over his face. He glanced at me and I asked if I could take his photo. With a solemn silent nod he acknowledged my request. When I thanked him, he did the same again.

Promote Peace with Peace

Living his life as an outdoor exhibition has taken its toll. You can see it in his weathered skin, the tiredness of his body, the slow and contemplative way he turned a lighter around in his hands. There was a distinct weariness about him alongside the sort of strong mental determination of the sort of person who can stand for his beliefs so powerful that his wife and seven children fall out of the picture, who can step up against one of the most powerful governments in the world, to be considered a permanent representation of freedom of speech for an entire nation.

Don't Trade in Your Beliefs

His protest began the summer before 9/11 when he was campaigning against economic sanctions imposed on Iraq and the bombing by the UK and US. That September, his focus widened to include the War on Terror.

Bollox 2 Bombs

Now, “He protests on behalf of those innocent people who suffer and die in other countries, as our governments seek to further their own economic, military, political and strategic interests around the world.” In 2005, he was short listed for a Human Rights Award and in 2007 was Channel 4’s Most Inspiring Political Figure.

Change The World

There have been many attempts to evict Brian from the square, many court cases and arrests, including the most recent last month. But he’s still there and, despite revived attempts to remove him, it doesn’t look like he’s got any other plans.

Fascists Bite Here

While this lifestyle has left 61-year-old Brian drained of physical energy, the camp that has built up around him was lively, engaging the crowds with anti-war chants and sing-a-longs.

Peace Camp Drummer

As I walked away, Bob Dylan’s lyrics floated across Bridge Street, “How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”

Brian Haw 2

Here’s a great Indy article on Brian if you want to read more.

Time for Peace

London Events: I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist!

There is a mass gathering scheduled for this coming Saturday in Trafalgar Square – a demonstration for the rights of both professional and leisure photographers. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act has been used – or, as many feel, abused – by police as an excuse to stop photographers. Police have been warned about misuse of the laws. The Independent, BBC, Guardian and Telegraph, among others, have all run stories on the topic. There is more information on this event, examples of recorded abuse and more on what the Photographer Not Terrorist group stands for on their website.