No Bombs, No Borders
The doorway of the French Embassy
Diplomat and Demonstrator (and CW 3176)
Pavement in Albert Gate
TSG move in
No Borders banner and French Embassy
A man is marched away
Police confront demonstrator
The police have refused to allow humanitarian associations in Calais to provide shower facilities for the migrants in the jungles. French immigration minister Besson has talked about the camps only being destroyed with "dignity"; protesters reply "there is no dignity in a crime against humanity."
In Calais, the banners and chalked notices read
but those at the London protest were simpler; " No Deportation merci " read one held up in front of the embassy under the French and European flags.
French police are expected to hold the detained migrants in secure hostels before forcibly putting them on flights; they are expected to start with the large group of Afghans who they intend simply to dump in Kabul, where many may have no support and face dangers - some at least had very good reason to flee the country.
Police attempted to get the demonstrators to occupy a pen on the other side of busy Knightsbridge, almost out of sight and largely out of hearing of the embassy. Instead they stayed mainly in the side road, Albert Gate, containing the embassy entrance. A small group of masked demonstrators holding a black banner "NO BOMBS NO BORDERS" was moved several times under threat of arrest on various grounds, including the that of obstruction, although they were clearly causing no obstruction.
It was a noisy demonstration, thanks to the sound system from Bicycology which allowed a number of people to tell the French what they thought, as well as providing some rather loud music which had some demonstrators dancing.
Police let one of the demonstrators attempt to deliver leaflets to the embassy, and although this wasn't allowed, a diplomat did come out and talk with her for some time.. And of course I photographed this, although one police officer, CW 3176, insisted on playing a silly game and standing in front of me wherever I moved to do so. As the MPS guidelines state "We (the police) should actively help them (the media) to carry out their responsibilities provided they do not interfere with ours." He was fairly slow moving so I got my pictures, but it's time this kind of thing stopped.
A colleague at one point noticed a police photographer who was skulking behind a police van pointing a very long telephoto lens directly at the two of us. We went and challenged him, and he denied that he had photographed us and said that he had absolutely no interest in doing so.
There were indeed a number of curious games being played by the police, with one officer moving the people holding a banner on the central pavement of Albert Gate on the grounds that it was causing an obstruction, and letting them hold it - to their surprise and that of some other officers - on the roadway directly in front of the embassy entrance. I gained an impression that while some were trying to facilitate dissent within the legal limits there were others who preferred the more traditional Met approach.
The protest was scheduled to finish after 90 minutes at 2.00pm, and until very late on it seemed it would end without incident. However at 1.43pm, a team of police in blue overalls marched in, obviously keen to provoke trouble. The TSG had arrived, several of them armed with tasers.
Police again tried to persuade the protesters to move into the pen across the road for the remaining 15 minutes of their demonstration. At this point one masked protester was briskly led away by three TSG officers. The police made it clear that others would be arrested unless they moved to the pen across the main road. Since it was by then 1.55pm, they crossed the road and then decided it was time to go to the pub rather than into the pen.
More pictures on My London Diary shortly: