Watch “Garage, nos, two baloons awesome, silly rules though.3GP” on YouTube

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An investigation by Mixmag has found that The Met was using a flawed methodology to calculate the number of raves that it was responding to during lockdown, which had the potential to dramatically inflate its statistics

Priti Patel used incorrect data about illegal raves provided by the Met Police to justify emergency powers for police forces during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mixmag can reveal.

Introducing new powers for the police in an article for The Telegraph on August 28, 2020, the Home Secretary said: “In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events – such as big raves and parties – since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend.

“We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together.

“That is why we are cracking down on the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions.”

An investigation by Mixmag has found that during this time The Met was using a flawed methodology to calculate the number of raves that it was responding to, which had the potential to dramatically inflate its statistics.

Read this next: Dance ‘Til The Police Come: How oppressive policing has eroded rave culture

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the figures published were actually the number of “messages” about illegal raves recorded on its “Computer Aided Dispatch” system rather than the number of confirmed unlicensed events.

This means the Met could have counted individual events dozens or even hundreds of times in the numbers it published as well as including incidents that were not actually illegal raves.

A separate CAD message is created every time the police are contacted and informed of a crime, so if more than 50 people report the same illegal rave the system creates more than 50 CAD messages for a single event.

On 18 August 2021, in an emailed statement to Mixmag, the Met issued an apology for “confusion” over the statistics used by the Home Secretary.

It said that the figures she used related to the number of “pieces of information about events in the capital” received by the police force, not the number of events identified.

The Met declined to provide a breakdown that would reveal the true number of illegal raves identified by the force during the time period.

Read this next: Dave Clarke: “Plague raves are disgusting”

Speaking to Mixmag under the condition of anonymity, a former police officer told Mixmag it is common for a single illegal rave to generate large numbers of CAD messages as many different people call the police separately to report the event.

The Met doesn’t regularly publish the number of separate calls that it receives for individual unlicensed music events, but on 19 July 2020, the Met revealed that it received more than 30 calls about a single party that took place in North London.

This incident would have been double counted more than 30 times in the statistics quoted by the Home Secretary.

As well as being used by the Home Secretary, inflated figures about illegal raves provided by the Met were widely reported on in both national and regional newspapers as well as television news programmes.

News organisations that published the incorrect figures include Sky NewsThe TimesThe IndependentThe Evening StandardThe EconomistThe MirrorThe Express, and Manchester Evening News.

On August 17, the Evening Standard published a story saying “more than 1,000 unlicensed lockdown events have been held in London since June.”

On August 23, Sky News published a similar report that said: “The Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 illegal events in London since the end of June.”

Read this next: A new photobook documenting 2000s rave culture is coming out

The same figures used by Priti Patel were also used by The Economist on September 3, 2020, in an article with the title: Why raves are enjoying a revival: Britons are partying like it’s 1988.

It said: “The Metropolitan Police has recorded more than 1,000 raves (which it defines as unlicensed music events with more than 20 people) in London since the end of June.”

Less than a month before the Home Secretary wrote her article in the Telegraph, the Met Police released a press release that also used inaccurate data, saying that the force had “received information on more than 530 events across the capital” in the space of a single month.

Read this next: Police chief calls for power to force entry into suspected lockdown breakers’ homes

The Met calls illegal raves “unlicensed music events”, and in the press release it said it was responding to “approximately 23 UMEs every day”.

It added: “On Saturday, 18 July alone, information was received on 86 separate incidents.”

The police force has now said that all these figures were incorrect and the original press release, which was published on 24 July last year, has since been deleted from the Met’s website. (Its content can still be seen here.)

In a recent statement issued in response to a Freedom of Information request from Mixmag, the police force said: “For clarity, the figure of 530 within the MPS press release does not relate to the number of raves”.

It added: “We may have received several calls by several different members of the public when in fact it is only one incident with several CAD messages.”

The force went on to say that some of the CAD messages counted in the figures published may have been about incidents that were mistakenly identified as an unlicensed music event by members of the public.

The misleading figures on the press release were reproduced in a wide range of newspapers, intensifying fears that music events were a key factor hastening the spread of the COVID-19 virus in London.

One article in The Times stated: “In just over three weeks to July 18, Scotland Yard was made aware of 530 lockdown raves and ‘block parties’.”

An article in The Express, which was published on July 24, was given the headline: “London crackdown on ‘dangerous’ illegal raves launched after 500 unlicensed events held”.

Read this next: Illegal rave organisers face fines of up to £10,000 under new rules

Mohammed Qasim, a visiting research fellow in criminology at the London School of Economics, believes the Met needs to put new systems in place to stop the publication of incorrect statistics.

“After a string of scandals and failures, trust in the Met Police is extremely low at the moment,” he said.

“The force should be trying to rebuild trust – and this isn’t going to happen if it continually publishes statements that are wrong or misleading.

“New fact-checking processes need to be put in place to make sure the public can believe what the Met is saying.”

Qasim added: “In the middle of a crisis, such as the pandemic, what both the public and policymakers need are clear cut facts that they can rely on.”

“The inaccurate figures published by the police force, and the slew of high-profile news stories that followed, may have prompted an unjustified focus on music events in the middle of the pandemic, distracting from other issues such as government policy.”

The figures published by the Met last summer were especially alarming because, since the early stages of the pandemic, virologists had warned that mass gatherings have the capacity to dramatically hasten the spread of the virus.

At that time music events had already been linked to outbreaks of COVID-19 in other countries, with evidence that a single infected person can infect dozens of others when moving through crowded spaces without social distancing.

The free party veteran and acid techno innovator Chris Liberator believes that the numbers published by the Met were out of step with reality and fuelled a false narrative about the resurgence of illegal rave culture in the UK.

“The nature of illegal raves means that it is impossible to exactly quantify the number of raves that occurred in any region during a specific time period, but if you are a raver connected to the free party scene with your ear to the ground you know when events of a certain size are taking place,” he said.

“It’s definitely true that lockdown and the closure of commercial clubs created a new audience looking for illegal raves – and there were also some groups that put on parties during lockdown to cater for this demand.

“But, if you compare the summer of 2020 to previous years when there was no lockdown, there were far fewer big illegal raves taking place during the pandemic.

“During lockdown many established free party crews stopped putting on events because they were worried about the public health implications of putting on an illegal rave and spreading the virus.

“They were also worried about the severe penalties that they could face such as large fines and the seizure of their equipment.”

Read this next: Carl Cox on illegal raves during COVID-19 restrictions: “It’s not the answer to this”

He added: “During the lockdown in the summer of 2020 members of the public were repeatedly encouraged to report anyone who was breaking the rules – so it is possible that the police could have received dozens, if not hundreds, of complaints and messages about many of the illegal raves that took place.”

Kevin Blowe, coordinator of the police monitoring group Netpol, said: “The publication of these figures that exaggerated the number of illegal raves identified by the Met Police raise serious questions.

“It is unlikely that we will ever find out whether publishing the incorrect data was a simple mistake or deliberate misinformation.

“However, what we do know is that the police benefitted from the publication of these figures about illegal raves as they helped justify the extra powers they were granted during the pandemic.”

There have long been issues regarding the publication of misleading and unreliable data by police forces in the UK.

In January 2014, “national statistics” status was withdrawn from police recorded crime figures following allegations from the police watchdog that some of the quarterly published figures were subject to “a degree of fiddling”.

At the time, the UK Statistics Authority said it took the decision as a result of “accumulating evidence” that the underlying data on crimes recorded by the police may be unreliable.

Allegations included claims that the Metropolitan police had understated sexual offences by as much as 25 per cent.

More than seven years later, the national statistics designation is yet to be restored as problems with misleading police data have persisted.

Read this next: How illegal rave crews are using custom apps to avoid police

Given the regularity of police forces publishing unreliable information, some experts believe that information supplied by the police should be subjected to increased fact-checking by external organisations.

Qasim said: “It is shocking to see politicians and publications repeating the Met’s incorrect figures about illegal raves without rigorously checking them or qualifying them in any way.

“Institutions that interact with UK police forces need to hold them to account rather than unquestioningly accepting unlikely information when it suits their own agenda.”

The Home Office was contacted by Mixmag to respond to the Home Secretary’s use of incorrect statistics provided by the Met Police.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “During the height of the pandemic, illegal raves were extremely dangerous and put people’s lives at risk.

“Police forces have worked hard to gather and share intelligence in order to detect and disrupt unlicensed music events which were purposely organised at short notice to avoid detection, and took the appropriate enforcement action through the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices, where necessary.”

The Home Office spokesperson added: “The Home Secretary used this figure in good faith and with the understanding that it was correct at the time. We note that the Metropolitan Police have today clarified that the figure referred to 1,000 pieces of information about unlicensed music events.

“We also note that the Met Police made exhaustive efforts to shut down such events, as they were illegal at the time and posed a risk of Covid-19 transmission.”

Wil Crisp is a freelance journalist, follow him on Twitter


Gypsies and Travellers Under Threat From New Policing Law?

The UK’s Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities are voicing deep concern about the Government’s new policing bill, with many saying it is a threat to their way of life. The law will make trespass a criminal offence and give the police the powers to seize the homes of travelling people. At Appleby Horse Fair, BBC Newsnight is told by community leaders that the bill is tantamount to ‘ethnic cleansing’. The Government says that travellers’ property will only be under threat if they refuse to move from unauthorised sites and are causing harm. Emir Nader reports and Sally Chesworth produced this film.

Broadcast BBC Newsnight 17 August 2021

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Has The Left Forgotten How To Have Fun? | Downstream

Give this a listen when you get a chance. Musical styles and a bit of history

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Adam Hopwood : Site life and squatters

Site life…spring Somewhere. You decide where. Waking up. Not my favourite thing, but seeing beams of sunlight pierce through the holes in the curtains and hearing people shuffling about outside makes me sit up faster than usual. It’s warm in the trailer… I hop out of bed and open the wonky door, as usual the dog’s push past, going straight into sniff everything mode. I look out, there is a blackened kettle atop of a small fire… Neighbours are busy already. I didn’t want to boil my kettle with gas, so I shouted quietly, any tea? The answer was no. Brandy coffee? That will do nicely. my head weighed nothing and i collapse back into my pit. Within seconds a cup appeared on my doorstep. Got no sugar.. A voice said. I do. I replied. Top cupboard. A pair of black feet appeared, followed by a pair of skinny legs and a crusty t shirt with a dread head on top. A roll up stuck to its lips.. Nice day, I began.. How would you know? Said the dread. I can feel it in my bones I said. I see. And I can smell it the air, I beamed as he tipped enough sugar into my hand. I dropped it in the coffee and gave it a quick stir with a pencil. Cheers, cu in a bit. Yeah, I expect you will he droned, turning and shuffling out, bag of sugar in hand… And bring the sugar back…. Knowing it was unlikely to see it again, I added, well save me a bit..I lit the last bit of spliff that I had left from the night before, with the lighter I couldn’t find last night, but there it was, next to my pillow. I opened the curtain a little letting fresh spring beams in, polluting them immediately with the smoke, I lay back watching the swirls drifting and twisting towards the door, the first of many flies flew in, I dragged myself up to pull the makeshift curtain across taking a step out onto the now dry mud, it felt good underfoot, warm and sponge. A cockrel ran past at speed, followed by another, much flapping and squawking, they didn’t get on. One lived at the top of the green lane that was our temporary home, the other at the bottom, but I guess even cockrels enjoy a bit of mooching about, despite the risks.. The dogs lay dotted about, looking on indifferently, it was their first bit of sun for a while, they were making the most of it, some opting for the soft earth some taking advantage of slightly worse for wear weathered sofas and armchairs. One scraggy little pup had dragged a smelly old blanket under the doorway of a bus, lying half in and half out of the sun, a good thing as the mounting numbers of flies that will come as a result of the humidity when the land dries, all made a beeline, well, a flyline for said grubby object. I looked up the track, the assortment of coloured old lorries, bland little trailers separate with various tarp covered piles of tat, the odd engine, rag n bone, wheels and a mountain of tyres left by previous tenants. Much of this lying in the shadow of a double decker, some punky reggae music drifting down, in the opposite direction, stood a fairly battered range rover, its front end up on jacks. A huge almost clean chrome trailer, with a a homemade trailer board hanging lop sided, in front a flatbed Bedford army truck heaped with cables motors and other bits of broken trucks. More music, and a smouldering fire surrounded by my neighbours, blackened faces on shaven heads, holey t shirts with barely readable slogans, skinny arms poking out, ragged army trousers and boots, two or three bigger people with flowing dreads, chunky tattooed arms and heads full of silver, a group of skinny girls in summery dresses and big boots squidged together with one or two stubborn lurchers, all chattering incessantly, a group of toddlers ran up and down with a homemade go cart, faces still covered in breakfast. Further on still stood a couple of bow tops, a bender and a bug old cart horse munching fresh grass, swishing its tail. Another small fire with a huge cast iron kettle hung on a hook above the gently chuffing smoke, one old flat capped man sat down on a log, his cockrel had returned and sat opposite, next to the goat. A police helicopter flew over shattering the peace for a moment, as everyone stuck two fingers in the air at it.. Then it was nothing more than a a distant whirring, the birdsong and music returning, nice.i caught sight of silver cans being passed, as I heard the prkcushzzzz sound of one being opened I made my way to the group, I had a good feeling about today…

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We will not go quietly into the history books. We will not be going at all.

Feature for Morning Star by Romany Journalist Jake Bowers

With thanks to the Robert Dawson Archive

Today is Romany holocaust memorial day, yet ask most lifelong anti-racists what the significance of August 2nd is, and they will be puzzled. For our history, just like our plight, remains one of Europe’s dirty secrets. So come with me, if you will, on a journey into the past of Europe’s 12 million Romany people because we desperately need your help to secure a better future. Because history does not always exactly repeat itself, but in 2021 it is starting to rhyme.

On this day, in 1944, 4,300 Romanies were murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. They were taken during the night from their barracks to the gas chamber by SS guards. The mass killing was a reprisal on the community who led a desperate uprising at the death camp. Just months earlier on May 16th Romany prisoners of the so-called Zigeunerlager (Gypsy camp) having heard of the imminent liquidation of the camp, stood up against the Nazi guards armed with only hammers, pickaxes and shovels. As a result of their defiance, no Roma died in the gas chambers on that day. The Romany revolt against the Nazis is the only recorded uprising in Auschwitz and is now commemorated as Romani Resistance Day.

We still do not know how many of us died in the holocaust. Unlike the Jewish community many of our ancestors could not read or write, so few independent records were kept. Estimates range from 500,000 to 1,5 million people, their lives and stories are often lost within German statistics of those “remaining to be liquidated.” Like the Jewish community we were the only other racial minority specifically subjected to the Nazi final solution and a similar percentage of the Romany and Jewish community was eradicated. But there the parallels end, because what the intervening decades have taught us is that some inequalities are sadly far more equal than others.

So today we will weep for those we lost, but tomorrow we must again pick up the shovels. Across Europe a mudslide of racist violence is once again engulfing our people. From Hungary to the UK, right-wing governments are once again scapegoating our people and the results can be lethal.

In the Czech Republic, Romany man Stanislav Tomáš died in Teplice on June 19, 2021, after a Czech police officer knelt on his neck for six minutes. In images comparable to the murder of George Floyd in the US, the video went viral, prompting Romanies across Europe to protest police violence.

The Czech Republic authorities deny any wrongdoing and the police were praised by the interior minister for their good work. After the Council of Europe called for an independent investigation, the Czech president said he had no reason to doubt the results of the internal investigation, which found the police officers’ behaviour to be correct.

In New York, Berlin, Brussels, Glasgow, London, Vienna and in countless cities across Eastern Europe where Romany populations are big and growing, Romanies are demanding justice for Stanislav and themselves. Directly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement a Roma Lives Matter movement has seen thousands of Romany people demand better treatment on the streets.

For many of us, the end of the holocaust did not lead to a turning point in our treatment and life chances. Those that had survived the Nazis were soon forcibly settled and assimilated into urban deprivation by Stalinist regimes. In recent decades, the forced sterilisation of Romany women, poverty and over-representation in state care and special schools for Romany kids and deeply ingrained prejudice has kept us moving. Such racism has led to a huge wave of Romany migration to western Europe. This has led to a doubling of the British Gypsy, Roma and Traveller population to at least 600,000 people.

But Britain is no safe haven. The hostile environment experienced by Britain’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community for over 500 years has recently been cranked up. Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill not only limits the right to protest, but also seeks to completely outlaw nomadic Gypsy and Traveller culture across the UK. If passed it will:

  • Entirely eradicate nomadic life in Britain,
  • Give police the power to seize Gypsy and Traveller homes
  • Fine Gypsies and Travellers up to £2500
  • AND imprison those needing to follow a nomadic way of life because of a lack of safe legal stopping places

So, on July 7th over 1000 community members gathered in the shadow of the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and suffragette Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square to kickstart the Drive 2 Survive campaign that will roll from Westminster to Appleby Fair in August (the world’s largest Gypsy horse fair) in Cumbria to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in October 2021. Much as Gandhi, Mandela and Fawcett used direct action to fight for equality, Gypsy and Traveller community members will resist the outlawing of our cultures. Our communities have unified to fight the bill, but we desperately need your help to stop it.

‘As nomadic people that have roamed the lands we have lived on for our whole recorded history, to suddenly be told our way of life has no place in society is totally wrong and hurtful’ says Irish Traveller activist Chris McDonagh.

‘We all live in a country that is supposedly proud of its acceptance and equality for ALL ethnicities and minorities, but we now see this is a lie. We are people and we deserve to live our lives as we always have. We deserve to exist.’

The Drive 2 Survive Campaign first aim is the scrapping of part 4 of the Bill that creates a criminal law of trespass and dramatically increases police powers over anyone residing on land that they do not have permission to be on. We believe that the draconian powers within the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act that already lock nomadic Gypsies and Travellers into a cycle of trespass and eviction do not need strengthening but repealing.

Priti Patel cannot ignore the fact that police powers are already too excessive. It’s not just Gypsies, Roma and Travellers that are resisting these new powers, but representatives from the National Police Chiefs Council. In evidence to the committee stage of the Police Bill, the community and the police were united in calling for a better way of resolving the conflict around a lack of stopping places

The community takes the threat of the new legislation so seriously that it has organised the first Romani Kris, or council of elders in decades to debate and decide a unified response to Patel’s Bill at Appleby. Hereditary Appleby Fair organiser Billy Welch sees a direct parallel with the state violence Romany populations were subjected to before the holocaust, because before the death camps came the outlawing of nomadic life across the Third Reich.

“The people I represent are anxious about these proposals and with good reason. They are reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and the start of the process of ethnic cleansing in which Gypsies were forced off the road by fines and imprisonment. Their horses and vehicles were confiscated, which eventually led to them being sent to death camps or murdered on the side of the road. There are still many Gypsies alive who lost their families in that holocaust, and they have not forgotten – this is how it began. All of what was done them was legal in the eyes of the Nazis, but history teaches us clearly that just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right.” – Billy Welch

This summer we will show the Conservative Party that we will not go quietly into the history books, in fact, we will not be going at all.

To show your solidarity with the Drive 2 Survive Campaign:

Come to Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria between August 12th and 15th.

Attend the National Drive 2 Survive Rally at the time of the Tory Conference in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester at 1pm on Saturday October 2nd 2021.

For more information see: and

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Dreadlocked caucasians demand to face more discrimination

WHITE people with dreadlocks are not facing as much discrimination as they would ideally like, it has emerged.

Matted hair owners claim that other than being broadly defined as ‘crusties’ and ‘trustafarians’ they were going largely unnoticed by mainstream society.

25-year-old Brighton resident Tom Logan, who prefers to be called Boz, said: “I can’t remember the last time someone shouted something in the street, and even then it was something non-commital like ‘have a bath mate’.

“Can’t they see that I don’t subscribe to their stupid materialist values, and am in fact a threat to the status quo?

“These dreads took years to grow, they’re bloody itchy, and right now I’m feeling like it was all a waste of time.”

Dreadlocked Emma Bradford, aka Trouser, said: “I’ve been able to get a series of jobs, nothing fancy admittedly and mostly in organic cafes but still I’m consistently being treated like a normal, unremarkable person.

“Which I’m not, obviously, because I’ve got unusual hair and a rusty van with pictures of animals on it. Also I can stay upright on a unicycle for up to three minutes at a time.”

She added: “Someone needs to oppress me. Maybe they could bring back punks just so they can chase us around town centres.

Daily Mash

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Reclaim the Streets – The Film

Today the word on the street is ‘Occupy’. This is how we used to do it in the 90’s…

Imagine 5000 people being taken across London by underground to a mystery location and then transforming a motorway into a sand pit, a dance floor, a forest. Imagine radical ecologists joining forces with sacked dockers and occupying Liverpool docks. Imagine Trafalgar Square metamorphosed into London’s largest rave while under siege from 3000 unhappy riot police. Stop imagining and watc
h this film. YOU WILL BE INSPIRED.

May 1995, London, England. A small group of people decide to organise an illegal street party in Camden, a part of the city renowned for its consumerism and incessant traffic. The final location is kept secret, because they know that the state and business will not be amused. Reclaim the Streets! is born, a cocktail of raging love, revolutionary carnival, art and anarchy. Since then the clandestine street parties have erupted all over the world. From Hull to Sydney, Lyon to Tel Aviv, Vancouver to Valencia, people are taking back their streets. And this is only the beginning.

This film, a 2012 re-edit of the original, made from over a hundred hours of footage from 13 film-makers, and brought up to date with a recent expose of cop infiltration, tells the story of reclaim the Streets from its origins in London to the Global Street Party in May 1998 when 30 cities simultaneously joined in the fun.

‘Ultimately it is in the streets that power must be dissolved: for the streets where daily life is endured, suffered and eroded, and where power is confronted and fought, must be turned into the domain where daily life is enjoyed, created and nourished.’

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Rescuing the Green New Deal, with Alan Simpson

Preventing cheap politics from sinking the planet… Alan discusses his pamphlet – a challenge to all who champion a visionary ‘New Deal’.

Preventing cheap politics from sinking the planet… Alan discusses his pamphlet – a challenge to all who champion a visionary ‘New Deal’.

This is a challenge to all of us who champion the case for a visionary Green New Deal. It insists on a timescale that cuts carbon emissions in half, within the current decade; demands radical shifts into a more ‘circular’ economics, putting back more than we take out; and a vision that runs beyond obsessions with individual technologies. Instead, Alan focuses on the ‘systems’ that tomorrow’s inclusive security must be built around.

“As ever, Alan brings a big picture vision wrapped up in glittering examples of what transformation means in practice. From communities, to cities to whole countries, there is no wrong place to start, no part of the economy that doesn’t need to be turned upside down and rethought.” Clive Lewis MP

Alan Simpson was MP for Nottingham South before leaving to work on climate issues. He was advisor on sustainable economics to John McDonnell when he was Shadow Chancellor. Alan still dreams of saving the planet!

This event was streamed live via Zoom on July 19 2021.

Alan’s pamphlet, “Rescuing the Green New Deal”, is available from our webshop at:…

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Capturing the Anthropocene: Changing Depictions of the Climate Crisis

Magnum photographers discuss alternative approaches to communicating climate change

In this study of new photographic approaches to issues of climate change, Magnum photographers Sim Chi YinCristina de Middel and Jonas Bendiksen speak to writer Georgina Collins about their practice. Alongside this, Toby Smith from the charity Climate Visuals shares strategies on revolutionizing how we communicate current environmental crises.

Jonas Bendiksen Bangladesh. Genduram in the Gaibandha district. 2010. Flooded village. The three villagers standing / sitting by jute on small ‘island’: Rafiqul Islam (sitting on jute, left), Mohammad Delwar Hoss

In the summer of 2019 unprecedented temperatures were experienced across Northern Europe, with at least 12 countries breaking national heat records. July 2019 was the hottest month on earth since temperature records began in 1880. This was, and is, indicative of the growing disaster the planet is facing in the form of climate change. World Weather Attribution found that there was an extremely low probability of these temperatures being reached (for instance in France less than about once every 1000 years) without climate change. Climate change made this extreme weather around 100 times more likely. Put in these terms, the summer of 2019 sounds apocalyptic- and in many ways it was. The European Forest Fire Information System found that in 2019 1,300 square miles of continental Europe were burned (15% more than the decades annual average), but the vast majority of the photography that we saw told a different story. Beach days, sunbathing and icecreams predominantly featured in photographs of the summer.

“It’s this cynicism that they hope photography can help overcome in order to build our collective investment in reducing environmental harm.”

The role and responsibility that photographers themselves have when photographing events related to the climate crisis has been subject to increased attention in recent years. Photography is a powerful visual medium that can be used to educate, raise awareness and inspire action, and as such there is a strong argument that this comes with an implicit responsibility about the representations of an issue being made to the public. Visual storytelling can shift public perception and behaviours, which in turn influences national and international responses to the crisis. Climate Visuals is a non-profit built around this relationship between photography and social action; focused on changing the type of imagery used in relation to the climate crisis, so that it is not just “illustrative but truly impactful and inspires change,” as project lead Toby Smith states. The group is founded in research in social science; they use evidence gathered from focus groups in Europe and the USA to examine the emotional responses to different photographic depictions of the climate crisis. Smith says they want to see a more compelling and diverse visual language around climate change: less “polar bears, factories and glaciers… all of which have the really neat trick of signifying climate change, but still producing a large amount of cynicism and inactivity”. It’s this cynicism that they hope photography can help overcome in order to build our collective investment in reducing environmental harm.Jonas Bendiksen China. Qinghai province. 2009. In the Yellow Rivers headwaters area. Just outside Hua Shi Xia, a settlement for resettled nomads. The pictured family were resettled from the surrounding area around (…)

Jonas Bendiksen Tajikstan. 2009. In the village of Shohi Safed by the Zerafshan river in the Zerafshan valley. Muholol “General” Ahmedov (73), picking currants from a tree. Next to him are two water irrigation pip (…)

Jonas Bendiksen China. Qinghai province. 2009. In the Yellow Rivers headwaters area, about 40m drive from Madoi town, towards Yushu. Sand dunes show the increasing desertification of the Tibetan plateau, with shal (…)

It is perhaps because the climate crisis has presented a new challenge to practitioners (how do you go about capturing an existential threat, moving at literally glacial speed, in a single frame?) that imagery has often felt reductive in the face of a challenge on the scale of the climate crisis. Magnum photographer Cristina de Middel, who covered the 2019 wildfires in Brazil, describes exactly this: “The drama and the destruction that was happening was hard to capture and express with just images of flames and burnt pieces of the jungle. The scale of everything was overwhelming and by framing that reality, and deciding which piece of it would become a picture, I was actually losing the magnitude of it”.Cristina de Middel The Xavante tribe is known to be aggressive and a warrior society. They call themselves “the invisibles”. Fire plays an important role in their traditions. They use if for hunting and also to keep (…)

Cristina de Middel The fazenda of Sidnei Hübner is just 800 acres, a small one for the area. In the beginning of Augusta fire burnt 2/3 of his area right after the corn harvest. The fire started at a some neighbours (…)

Cristina de Middel Entrance of the fazenda Flamboyant, a 800 acre propertu focused in corn and soy production. The owner, Sidnei Hübner arrived from the South 40 years ago looking for cheaper land to cultivate. In (…)

“I think it depends on what you expect photography to do or what you expect of the photographer,” says Sim Chi Yin in reference to the challenges posed by photographing the climate crisis. “I think this is a deeper question about whether photography and photographers are expected to be advocates and activists as well,” she continues. “There are things that may translate photographically into climate change and some things that don’t”. Sim has been working on her project Shifting Sands, documenting the social and environmental cost of the land reclamation industry in East and Southeast Asia. Previously taking an ‘infrastructural gaze’, shot at ground level, capturing the people and places affected, she has since adopted a birds-eye view, producing strikingly beautiful other-wordly landscape photography. It’s not uncommon to hear criticism of photography, particularly in the realm of editorial, for making terrible things look too beautiful. This is an all too familiar conundrum for Smith in his work at Climate Visuals: “I spend a lot of my time arguing with the media about social science but the other side is that I spend a lot of time arguing with social scientists about the subjective qualities of photography,” he says.NEWSROOMA Mirage of Luxury Built on SandSim Chi YinSim Chi Yin Singapore. Tuas. 2017. From “Shifting Sands”, 2017 – on-going. Land reclamation works are on-going at this area of Tuas, Singapore’s westernmost area where a new massive container port — the w (…)

Sim Chi Yin Tractors plough through piles of sand which have been deposited by sand barges at the Forest City development — a joint venture between a China developer with the state government and Sultan of Joh (…)

In essence, though accurate and impactful depictions of the climate crisis are the goal, the photos need to be published if you’re going to achieve that, and the pictures have to be good or that’s not going to happen. For Sim Chi Yin, the beauty of her Shifting Sands images were an entirely deliberate move away from the more ‘ditactic heavy-handed approach’ she once took; here, the aestheticization of a challenging topic is a strategy to encourage on-going engagement in a difficult conversation.Vietnam. Mekong River. 2017. Ha Thi Be, 67, poses for a portrait with the two young grandsons who lived with her in this ancestral home, Ha Duy Phuc, 11, and Ha Trung Kien, 4. The children have rar (…)

Sim Chi Yin Vietnam. Phu Thuan B commune. 2017. Ms Lam Thi Kim Muoi, 43, poses for a portrait in her family’s ancestral house abandoned a year ago (2016) after riverbank erosion snapped part of it off into th (…)

There is, for obvious reasons, an excess of what might be referred to as ‘disaster photography’ in coverage of the climate crisis. The aesthetic properties of these images ‘sell’ but, according to Climate Visuals research, don’t create a meaningful, or – perhaps more accurately – an actionable, response in the viewer. The Global South has already suffered a disproportionate number of climate disasters, simply because populations and ecosystems in tropical, higher-latitude regions experience the worst effects of rising global temperatures. As a result, you’d be forgiven as a consumer of photography for thinking that climate change wasn’t affecting Western Europe. This echoes the experience of de Middel: “I think we are still in a stage where environmental issues are perceived as something exotic and distant, even if they are not. Despite the frequent vivid reminders of the seriousness of the situation, the threat sounds distant and that makes the  sense of urgency very difficult to convey”. Many people don’t relate to these images beyond the shock and awe of the moment, because it doesn’t resonate with their own demographic construct. This in turn, has resulted in the othering of communities in the Global South as they are continually represented as victims, often by foreign Western photographers, as a way to capture the climate crisis in a way that’s seen as visually appealing. Rarely do we see the photography of practitioners with lived experience of climate disasters in the Global South, and rarely do Western photographers’ cameras turn to document the effect of climate change closer to home.ARTS & CULTUREBoa Noite PovoCristina de MiddelCristina de Middel and Bruno Morais From the project ‘Boa Noite Povo’. In 2017, when we moved to the Mata Atlántica jungle in Brazil, and started cohabiting with the frantic wildlife of the area, we decided to start exploring the exi (…)

Cristina de Middel and Bruno Morais From the project ‘Boa Noite Povo’. Boa Noite Povo is a mix of archival imagery, directed animal action, night photography and plastic intervention of ephemeral pieces that show the complexity of th (…)

This, at least in part, can be attributed to a general desire for simple narratives when taking on an issue as huge and amorphous as the climate crisis. And, in a parallel and more practical sense, the causes and impacts of climate change are more compelling and cinematic than, say, the solutions to the climate crisis. So, reaching Net Zero –  achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere – has the potential, in Smith’s own words, “to be a really boring photographic essay”. There is however, an “extremely powerful” way to communicate the issue, by combining images of disaster with images of solutions and action.NEWSROOMFuture Proofing Life on EarthJonas BendiksenJonas Bendiksen Bangladesh. Genduram in the Gaibandha district. 2010. Flooded village. The three villagers standing / sitting by jute on small ‘island’: Rafiqul Islam (sitting on jute, left), Mohammad Delwar Hoss (…)

But this in itself presents a challenge, and gets to the heart of the problem of documenting the climate crisis in photography; how can photographers tell more nuanced and innovative stories within their relatively narrow medium? Jonas Bendiksen, who documented Bangladeshi communities experiencing chronic flooding, says that “photography has a tendency to oversimplify; it’s not the easiest medium to formulate a complex thought process; it tends to rely on ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ and be less focused on the complexities of things”. He’s increasingly interested in the ‘grey zones’, for instance how photography of Western consumerism also provides an important perspective on the climate crisis, but is frustrated by limitations of the platforms that are available. There’s an increasing pressure, driven by social media, for single images or a couple of slides to have an impact, to be easily-digestible. Climate change, particularly its effect on the Global North, will not reveal itself so it can be fitted neatly onto social media feeds. The commodification of environmental images, which we could describe as the photograph-social media industrial complex, also leads to an oversaturation of images, resulting in just the apathy that the Climate Visuals is endeavouring to avoid.THEORY & PRACTICEMost People Were SilentSim Chi YinJonas Bendiksen Bangladesh. Padmapukur. 2009. On the ‘char’ (silt island) of Padmapukur, in the Ganges delta. Hurricane Aila destroyed the dikes, thus causing daily flooding of the communities. Most of the village (…)

Some are already looking to overcome these limiting factors, like de Middel. “As a communicator, I find it interesting to explore new ways of presenting issues whose narratives are already exhausted and who suffer from over-reporting,” she says, “I believe it is part of the job to keep the audience interested and curious to know more”. Sim Chi Yin says “I think it’s no longer enough just to make the pictures and put it through an editorial channel” — where it is consumed for a day, and then forgotten about. As Sim grew increasingly frustrated with the limits of single image photography, she experimented with exhibition installations, performance lectures, and for her Shifting Sands project, a VR installation that has yet to be completed due to lack of funding. She says, “I think we live in a different time, and this period of information and imagery-saturation needs different types of visual strategies for storytelling”.Sim Chi Yin Malaysia. 2017. From “Shifting Sands”, 2017- on-going. A family takes a walk and goes fishing in an area in southern Malaysia now covered with giant sand dunes. The Danga Bay area is earmarked for (…)License | 

Smith makes it clear that it’s not just the photographers and content generators, who sit at the wide bottom of the ‘pyramid’ of the photography industry, who can play a role in shifting public perceptions of the climate crisis. It’s also the agency, distribution, and media companies who occupy the top of the pyramid and choose what is and isn’t seen by a wider audience. There needs to be the funding and interest to commission work that can take on the long story-arc of the climate crisis in all its complexity.

Photography is an enormously powerful way of communicating the challenges posed by the climate crisis, inspiring outrage, anger and fear. But it also has greater potential to engage people beyond these fleeting emotions – giving form to the sometimes abstract nature of the challenges facing us – moving people to hope and action. Visual storytelling can and should be a crucial tool for building a social mandate around tackling climate change, but as many have been forced to take stock and adjust to the new reality of the climate crisis, so too will the world of photography. NEWSROOM Photographing Australia’s Black SummerPaolo Pellegrin Cristina de Middel According to the government, 2019 was a normal year in terms of wildfires the state of Mato Grosso. Despite the 85% increase confirmed by the Brazilian National Space Research Institute. The number (…)

Sim Chi Yin Jonas Bendiksen Cristina de Middel

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Allotment Tour X3 speed … on TikTok

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Tash on TikTok

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Remembering the Elan Valley Summer of Love in 1976

By Matt Jones  Reporter 

THE year is 1976. James Callaghan replaces Harold Wilson as prime minister, the Sex Pistols release Anarchy in the UK and the Cod Wars between the UK and Iceland over fishing rights in the North Atlantic are making waves.

Meanwhile, at a usually sleepy and serene Mid Wales beauty spot, hundreds of hippies take a diversion from Stonehenge and stage a festival in rural Radnorshire.

It’s 45 years ago this month and the Elan Valley Free Festival or Rhayader Fayre Free Festival brings a little excitement to the Powys countryside – with a newspaper article at the time renaming the Elan Valley the ‘Hippy Valley’ after around 300 people descended on the famous dams in early July.

The Summer of Love famously swept the whole of America in the summer of 1967 – around 100,000 people converged on San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood as the city embraced the anti-war movement, hippie music, hallucinogenic drugs and free love.

The movement took a while to officially reach UK shores, with the Second Summer of Love officially taking place in Britain in the late 1980s, with the rise of acid house music and unlicensed rave parties emerging in the summer of 1988 and stretching into the summer of 1989.

However, it seems only very few were present or even had knowledge of Powys’ own version of the Summer of Love 12 years earlier.

The B4574, also known today as National Cycle Route 81, reportedly became a haven for “goggle-eyed” tourists for a few weeks in July 1976, eager to catch a glimpse of the hoards of hippies apparently cavorting around mainly in the nude.

The summer of 1976 was a scorcher, with stories about heat waves and droughts littering the UK news cycle.

The gathered masses had initially been left in peace, mixing happily with locals, but things soon took an ugly turn when the water board (now Welsh Water, who manage the Elan Valley estate) complained that the festivalgoers were polluting the water courses. Water from the reservoirs has long provided a public supply to the Midlands area and the water board eventually won a High Court order to evict the new settlers. After the hippies initially refused to budge, a 400-strong army of police officers swarmed the site early one morning and roused the visitors from their teepees and wigwams and forced them to leave.

County Times: Police arrive on the scene at Pont Ar Elan in July 1976. Picture by Janet ThompsonPolice arrive on the scene at Pont Ar Elan in July 1976. Picture by Janet Thompson

They were eventually moved on and allegedly the festival carried on at Pont-rhyd-y-groes just a little further west into Ceredigion.

Now, 45 years on, the Elan Links: People, Nature & Water Facebook page are asking any locals for their memories, recollections and pictures from the event.

“It’s 45 years since the great hippie invasion of Elan Valley. Does anyone remember it?,” read a post on the page from Thursday, July 1.

“Please get in touch if you have any stories or photographs you would like to share so we can create an archive of this momentous event. Email or phone 01587 811527.”

County Times: A poster promotong the 1976 Elan Valley Free Festival. Picture by Janet Thompson

A poster promoting the 1976 Elan Valley Free Festival. Picture by Janet Thompson

A dive into the archives will lead you to some wonderful photos from the event, taken by Janet Thompson, who was one of the festivalgoers.

Retro Rhayader featured a collection from the festival on its page back in 2014, under an album titled ‘Hippy Days, Elan Valley July 1976’.

“In July 1976 Rhayader and the Elan Valley saw 100s of Hippies visit the area, after arriving from Stonehenge for a music festival,” reveals a caption.

From 1974 to 1984 the Stonehenge Free Festival was held at the famous prehistoric monument in Wiltshire during the month of June, culminating with the summer solstice on or near June 21.

County Times: A newspaper clipping reporting on the event. Picture by Janet ThompsonA newspaper clipping reporting on the event. Picture by Janet Thompson

Accounts of the Powys festival a week or so later that year tend to be haphazard – perhaps something to do with the substances allegedly circling.

“The festival was to be the next one after the henge and was due to run for the whole of July,” remembers photographer Janet, from quotes published on the website, under the heading ‘Elan Valley Free Festival’ page.

“I hitched down there on July 7th. On the 13th at 6.30am 400 coppers had encircled the site and woke everyone up and evicted us, it was a bit of a shock, most people were still in bed.

“I think they had bussed in coppers from all over Wales. Everyone got themselves together and moved off ‘up the road’ to another site at Pont-rhyd-y-groes.”

County Times: A picture from the 1976 Elan Valley Free Festival. Picture by Janet Thompson

A picture from the 1976 Elan Valley Free Festival. Picture by Janet Thompson

Although the likes of Dexys Midnight Runners, The Raincoats, Joe Strummer, Wishbone Ash and Jimmy Page appeared at the Stonehenge Free Festival over the years, Janet can only recall a band named Solar Ben playing in the Elan Valley. They had a flautist called Michael Wilding – whose mother was none other than legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor.

On the same website but under the ‘Rhayader Fayre Free Festival’, a festivalgoer known only as Alan remembers: “We arrived in Rhayader direct from Stonehenge in a couple of trucks. There was a river running through the site, and we camped on both sides of it, the river being crossed by a couple of scaffold planks laid out at various points.

“The river was cordoned off, so drinking water, washing and swimming took place in different parts, the toilets were marked by green flags up the side of the hills surrounding the site.

“There was about 200 people there maximum and it was during the very hot summer.

“The vibes there were great, everyone was very friendly, not one sign of trouble, either with the hippies camping, or from the locals who were frequent visitors.

“As I was doing first aid there, I did ask (and received) help from the police to get a couple of people to the hospital in Aberystwyth as they were suffering badly with sunburn. I left the day before the bust.”

Another person who was present 45 summers ago was Paul Fraser. In his vivid memories from that period, posted on his Itchy Monkey Press blog, he recalls a site meeting at Stonehenge, at which it had been decided to move the festival to Mid Wales.

County Times: A picture from the 1976 Elan Valley Free Festival. Picture by Janet Thompson

A picture from the 1976 Elan Valley Free Festival. Picture by Janet Thompson

“I hitched up there, coming out of Rhayader, on the mountain road to [the] Elan Valley I got picked up by some people in a Mini Minor,” recalls Paul.

“We came over the top of this hill, the valley lay spread out below us and there it was, the massive Yellow Tipi, surrounded by smaller tipis, tents and a festival.

“That festival got [shut down, people got] evicted, the land belonged to the water board. We were going to make a tipi. We went to Cheap Charlies in Newtown and bought some army marquee walls for canvas, we went up in the forestry and bought some poles off some guys with chainsaws. We were skinning the bark off the poles when several busloads of police turned up and evicted us.

“The unity that had brought the festival from Stonehenge carried through. A site about 10 miles away had been scouted and the whole festival moved down there, to Pont-rhyd-y-groes.”

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My pictures of events that day: GRT Travellers Protest [Kill the Bill], London. 7th July 2021

GRT Travellers Protest [Kill the Bill], London. 7th July 2021.

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Drive 2 Survive rally to protest anti-Traveller law ‘makes history’

14 July 2021


The Drive 2 Survive rally kicked off with an explosive start in Parliament Square last week as campaigners warned of a ‘summer of discontent’ against the new racist police bill which will “wipe out” Gypsy and Traveller and other nomadic cultures by criminalising trespass with the intent to reside in a vehicle.

Hugh Powell
Hugh Powell

(All photos above (c) Hugh Powell)

Over 500 people came to the rally on 7th July, 2021, at Parliament Square, London to demonstrate against the police bill in front of the heart of British Government. Every GRT community and nomadic community was there to make history, including Romany Gypsy, Kale, Scottish Travellers, Irish Travellers, Showmen, New Travellers, Van Dwellers and livaboard itinerant Boaters.

Hugh Powell
Hugh Powell
Hugh Powell
  •  (All photographs above (c) Hugh Powell)

The crow cheered rousing speeches from politicians, campaigners, lawyers and representatives of anti-racist groups including Black Lives Matter and Stand Up To Racism.

Hugh Powell
Hugh Powell

(All photographs above (c) Hugh Powell)

The new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was voted through in Parliament last week and looks set to be passed through the House of Lords and become law by the Autumn. The bill doesn’t only contain an attack on GRT communities, it also gives the Government and the police new powers to restrict peaceful protests, include a ten-year sentencing tariff for damaging a statue, increases the powers of police to stop and search with no evidence and introduces more secure institutions for young people.

Mike Doherty
Mike Doherty
Mike Doherty

(All photographs above (c) Mike Doherty)

The rally started when John Doe set off with his horse and cart from Stable Way Traveller site in nearby Shepherds Bush and drove to Parliament Square. Main Drive 2 Survive organisers Sherrie Smith and Jake Bowers were already at Parliament Square starting to set up the rally which was set to kick off at 1pm.

VIDEO: Watch the Drive 2 Survive interview with John Doe:

Hugh Powell

John Doe sets off for the rally from Stable Way Traveller site (c) Hugh Powell

Jake Bowers kicked off the speakers and introduced Drive 2 Survive as the crowds began to arrive. “Let me give you a warning Priti Patel,” he said. “We will not be walking into the history books. If you come for us and you come for our homes and you come for our culture – we are coming for you.”


Jake Bowers (c) Ludovic

Jake Bowers was then followed by 26 speakers. They were (in order):

Andy Slaughter MP for Hammersmith and co-chair All Party Parliamentary Group for GRT.

“There are 250 different groups opposing this bill from Friends of the Earth to XR to Liberty,” said Andy Slaughter. “Your fight is their fight.”


Andy Slaughter (c) Ludovic

Billy Welch, Shera Rom and the Romany Gypsy representative of the Appleby Horse Fair organising group.

“I am a Romany Gypsy and I am extremely proud of that fact,” said Billy Welch. “I come from a nomadic people and I have travelled all my life. We have got to realise how dangerous these laws will be. Just by being somewhere I can be arrested, put in prison, my home and my vehicles can be confiscated from me and my wife and family left on the side of the road.”

VIDEO: Watch Drive 2 Survive interview with Billy Welch:

Billy Welch

Billy Welch (c) Ludovic

Bell Ribeiro Addy MP for Streatham.

“An attack on one is an attack on all of us,” said Bell Ribeiro Addy MP. “The UN have said the GRT community across Europe are one of the most persecuted groups in the world. And this country likes to wax lyrical about how other countries treat their minority groups, but instead of defending this community this government is persecuting them more with this bill. The government has got an eighty-seat majority, but the early protests against the bill slowed it down. We have to understand that this fight will not be won in (the Houses of Parliament), it will be won out here on the streets.”


Bell Ribeiro Addy (c) Ludovic

Alison Hulmes from the GRT Social Work Association.

“I’m a Welsh Gypsy, I’m a Kale, that’s my tribe,” said Alison Hulmes. “Our culture and our history our ethnicity will not be erased by this government because of this racist bill. We will continue to gel the rom because that’s what we do. We will refuse to be herded into cul-de-sacs, estates and sites that should be condemned because they are unfit for human inhabitation. We will refuse to allow you (points at the Houses of Parliament) to rip our homes from under us, to criminalise us, and to take our children into state care.”


Alison Hulmes with Drive 2 Survive co-chair Sherrie Smith in red top (c) Ludovic

Lou No from Fixed Abode Travellers Collective.

“I generally tend to live on squatted land and in abandoned buildings, if trespass had been criminalised when I first started living on the road 20 years ago I wonder what my charge sheet would look like now?” said Lou. Would I have spent time in prison? Would I still be able to work as a key worker supporting the vulnerable? Would I still be on the road? The land we squatted was always disused and neglected, waiting for the property developers to get planning to build more houses. We made it our home, clearing rubbish, growing gardens and putting on events. Then we would get evicted (and) often replaced by one solitary caravan for the security guard to reside in keeping the land safe from the likes of us.”


Lou (c) Ludovic

Sam Grant from Human Rights campaign group Liberty.

“Liberty is proud to stand with you against this legislation,” said Sam Grant. “If this bill is passed as it currently stands, it will dramatically re-shape civil liberties in this country and will push the balance of power further in favour of the Government and the Police. Not only does this bill hand police more say about where, when and how people can protest. But for the Traveller community it not just a crackdown on rights it represents an existential threat.”


Sam Grant (c) Ludovic

Howard Beckett from the union UNITE.

“We cannot look at this piece of legislation in isolation,” said Howard Beckett. “We cannot look at this legislation in isolation of the Trade Union Act, or the Home Office ‘refugee go home’ vans, or the Windrush scandal, or deporting refugees in the middle of the night. All of these things taken together are a racist endeavour on behalf of the establishment. We have a responsibility to stand up for our rights as generations have stood up for them before us. We have a responsibility to pass those rights on.”


Howard Beckett (c) Ludovic

Ruth Sullivan from Traveller Pride

“The current Tory Government has form about trying to frame rights of various minoritised groups as a debate and a thing they can legislate out of existence,” said Ruth Sullivan. “We have seen this. We have seen this with this government with immigrants, our Trans siblings and the narrative they have written about the Traveller community (…) Remember that Pride was a protest.”


Ruth Sullivan (c) Ludovic

Delia Mattis from Kill the Bill campaign.

“For hundreds of years under-represented communities have used protest as a way to have our voices heard,” said Delia Mattis. “For hundreds of years organised workers have use protest as a way to make their demands clear. For hundreds of years the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community have had your traditions. This racist Government have no right to try and take your rights away from you and we will not let them. We will continue to protest. One part of the bill the government say they are going to measure the decibels of protests. Have you ever heard such s***? This Government is a disgrace.”


Delia Mattis (c) Ludo

Virgil Bitu, Roma and Human Rights activist and Drive to Survive.

“I am here today to stand with my brothers and sisters against the fascist legislation,” said Virgil Bitu. “I consider this bill fascist because this is how the fascist regimes start in the beginning – they took away peoples political and civil rights and rights of expression and assembly and they abused the most vulnerable groups. I am here to stand against the bill today before it’s not too late.”


Virgil Bitu (c) Ludovic

Nicu Ion, Newcastle Labour Councillor – the first ever Roma elected as a councillor.

“I came to day to show solidarity,” said Cllr Nicu Ion. “And not only my solidarity but that of my community (…) The racists are back and they come in the form of Priti Patel, Boris Johnson and the Tory Government. Trying to ban the traditional lifestyle of a community, trying to ban the right to protest and trying to ban our political freedoms and we will not sit quiet and do whatever they want. We are here today to say we are many, we are powerful and we are not going to be silent.”


Nicu Ion (c) Ludovic

Thomas McCarthy, Irish Traveller/Pavee traditional singer and campaigner.

“Travelling is in our DNA. It’s is as simple as that,” said Thomas McCarthy, who then launched into a song – ‘I’m a rambling man.’

VIDEO: Watch Thomas McCarthy sing ‘I’m a rambling man from the Drive 2 Survive stage (video by Ludovic)

Anne McLaughlin Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow North East.

“Greetings from Scotland,” said Anne McLaughlin MP. “You have got our support. One of the reasons we are fighting this bill is because of the impact on Travelling communities. We are absolutely disgusted with what they are trying to do and we are absolutely disgusted about some of the things they have said about Travellers. In Scotland it’s a very different approach,” said Anne McLaughlin, adding that the SNP Government’s approach was about improving the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. “This bill will do nothing but damage the lives of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and I am so sorry that this is happening to you.”


Anne McLaughlin (c) Ludovic

John Lloyd from campaign group The People’s Assembly.

“You know what the Tories hate? They hate people who are different,” said John Lloyd. “They hate people who live differently. They hate people who look differently. They hate people who worship a different god. Who come from a different country and don’t have the money and the power that they have. But that is precisely what unites us. No matter what we look like no matter how we live. No matter where we come from, none of us have wealth and none of us have power unless we stand together. Because that’s all that ordinary people have ever had. Their numbers and their organisation.”


John Lloyd (c) Ludovic

 David Landau from the Jewish Socialist Group.

“The Jewish Socialist Group comes from what is known as the Bundist group of Jewish thought and action,” said David Landau. “We did not seek to form a nation state or control territory, drawing borders around us (…) But the Holocaust changed all that. The Bundist slogan is ‘we are here’ and this was the slogan of the first Roma Congress 50 years ago and this was repeated at this year’s Jubilee Roma Congress. We are in a dangerous period. The far right is gaining ground across Europe and Roma are one of the primary targets of the far right.”


David Landau (c) Ludovic

Luke Wenman from Socialist GRT.

“This bill does nothing to address the needs of our community,” said Luke Wenman. “It does nothing to address the fact that we die 12 years younger than the rest of the population, it does nothing to address the fact that we have been put into prisons for decades. It does nothing to address the fact that they are criminalising a form of homelessness. If you want to solve homelessness provide people with somewhere to live. It’s as simple as that. This bill criminalises the 20% of our community who are still nomadic.”


Luke Wenman (c) Ludovic

Marvina Newton from campaign group Black Lives Matter.

“Can I just say that I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters,” said Marvina Newton. “I stand here with my sister (looks at Sherrie Smith) and I fell your pain and I will stay silent no longer. This is not the oppression Olympics, they come for one, they come for all. We stand united in everything we do. We don’t have time for any of this fighting each other. They try to make us come and fight each other but they didn’t know that instead we find family with each other (…) We are protesting this bill to live. We are protesting this bill to survive.”


Marvina Newton (c) Ludovic

Marian Mahoney from London Gypsies and Travellers.

“We don’t want to trespass, but there is nowhere for us to go,” said Marian Mahoney. “Councils are letting us down, they are not making sites or stopping places available for our culture. Putting Gypsies and Travellers under this new law is wrong. We should not be under this law. We are an ethnic minority. We are not criminals. I have no criminal record I don’t want a criminal record and neither do our children or our grandchildren or our generations to come because we will not stop.”


Marian Mahoney (c) Ludovic

Zack Polanski London Assembly Member Green Party.

“I am a Green Party London Assembly Member and Chair of the Environment Committee, but I am not here to say that politics will get us out of here,” said Zack Polanski. “We know that politicians have exacerbated the climate crisis. We know that politicians of successive generations have not listened to the voices of Jewish people, Black people, to the GRT community, to so many vulnerable communities. We are going to have to do this ourselves. We are going to have to be loud, we are going to have to be clear and we are going to have to stand in solidarity.”


Zack Polanski (c) Ludovic

Wolfgang Douglas from the Free Albert campaign.

Wolfgang raised the plight of his father Albert Douglas, a Romany Gypsy businessman who has been detained and tortured in the United Arab Emirates for a crime he didn’t commit. He urged the crowd to check out the #freealbert campaign. “Our Government does nothing to support him or protect him, said Wolfgang Douglas. Why? The answer to this I fear is the oldest crime on earth. I have conversed with MP’s, diplomats and various influential people in that building the Houses of Parliament, the answer is an awkward one for them and one that I have lived with for my entire life. As soon as the dirty word is used, all the support, all the emotion, all the enthusiasm stops. ‘Gypsy’ – the word that closes all doors, stops all discussions and brings debates to an abrupt and awkward halt every single time.”


Wolfgang Douglas (c) Ludovic

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, civil rights campaigner and top lawyer.

“I stand here today in solidarity with all my Gypsy, Roma and Traveller brothers and sisters,” said Shami Chakrabarti. “There has been a little bit of nonsense, in Parliament and in the press, about this slogan – what’s this slogan?” (The crowd shouts back ‘Kill the Bill!’). “Let me make it clear to anyone who is in doubt about what that slogan means. This is not about targeting police officers for abuse or violence. A bill is a piece of legislation that is introduced into Parliament, and in this case it is one of the most odious and racist pieces of legislation in a long line of such nonsense in recent times.”


Shami Chakrabarti (c) Ludovic

Joe Brown Chair of the Traveller Movement.

“The Irish worked it out long ago what they were trying to do and we had a slogan which was united we stand, divided we fall,” said Joe Brown. “And we must let them know that we stand united forever.”


Joe Brown (c) Ludovic

Wayland Bennings from campaign group Stand Up To Racism

“I am so proud to stand today with the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma communities and I want to say this – we want to kill that bill,” said Wayland Bennings.  “What is this bill about? It is about enabling racism against the Roma, Gypsy and Traveller communities and are we going to stand for it? (Crowd shouts no!). And when we talk about racism. The key element to defeating it is unity. And its not the first time they tried to do this. And the truth is, if they come to try and take away our rights there is only one way you keep your rights – and that is to fight for them.”

Wayland Bennings (c) Hugh Powell

Wayland Bennings (c) Hugh Powell

Zara Sultana Labour MP for Coventry South

“We are here today to show we are proud and defiant in our resolute opposition to this authoritarian police bill and I am here in unwavering solidarity with the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the face of this new attack,” said Zara Sultana MP. “And that what this is, it is a racist political attack by the Conservative Government and we have to stand up against it.”


Zara Sultanah (c) Ludovic

Flo Bristol Van-Dweller and activist.

Flo spoke about the police violence at the 2nd Bristol Kill the Bill protest and then a a song and got the crowd to join in:

“We are the people, the places that we see

If we have nowhere to go, who will we be?

Please protect my home, please protect my right to roam

Lay down your arms and walk with me”

Flo (c) Ludovic

Flo (c) Ludovic

Steve Kennedy criminal barrister and Drive 2 Survive organiser

“The Brexit scam, the Covid scam, the hostile environment, our divided nation, are all political devices deployed by the Tories to deploy fear and control the people whilst they rob the nation blind of all its assets,” said Steve Kennedy. “The GRT road is an open road and everyone is welcome to travel with us.”


Steve Kennedy (c) Hugh Powell

The rally then ended peacefully at 3pm as the organisers vowed to continue the campaign against the police bill into the summer with their new allies and supporters.

‘Leave no trace’. New Traveller Rosie Brash helps to clear up Parliament Square after the Drive 2 Survive rally ends © LU (NFATS)

‘Leave no trace’. Rosie Brash helps to clear up Parliament Square after the Drive 2 Survive rally ends © LU (NFATS)

Speaking to the Travellers’ Times after the rally Drive 2 Survive co-Chair Sherrie Smith said that she the rally had been a success.

“It was an amazing day and a great start to the Drive2 Survive campaign to beat this racist and unjust bill,” said Sherrie Smith. “Because of the nature of the bill, because that is contains attacks on civil liberties, Drive 2 Survive has managed to forge alliances with many other communities and campaigns as we head into a summer of discontent to bring this bill – and if it is passed – this new law down.”

‘Alliances where forged’: Marvina Newton from Black Lives Matter with Roma activist Denisa Bitu © Sherrie Smith

‘Alliances where forged’: Marvina Newton from Black Lives Matter with Roma activist Denisa Bitu © Sherrie Smith

“One moment will always stick in my mind, and that was when we had a representative from all the different GRT ethnic groups and cultures up on stage alongside Marvina Newton from Black Lives Matters. Together we are powerful. Friendships and alliances were made at the rally that will last this Government out. Together we are powerful and that’s important because, as many of the speakers said, the battle against the new law will be won on the streets as well as in Parliament and in the courts.”

All the GRT ethnic groups and cultures together © Hugh Powell

All the GRT ethnic groups and cultures together © Ludovic

Sherrie Smith added that Drive 2 Survive had a number of plans in the pipeline, including a ‘Travellers got Talent’ competition at Appleby Horse Fair, followed by films and talks to further raise awareness among GRT communities about the new laws coming in. There will also be a Drive 2 Survive online event to mark the International Roma and Sinti Holocaust Day on August 2nd.

“We are also planning localised actions that people can take part in because not everyone who wanted to come to the rally could make it to London, or where worried about travelling long distances during Covid,” said Sherrie Smith. “More details will be released soon from the Drive 2 Survive core team, so watch this space and follow our website.”

‘Watch this space’. Drive to survive co-Chair Sherrie Smith and her daughters Ruby and Scarlett on their way to the Drive 2 Survive on the morning of the July 7th rally © Sherrie Smith

‘Off to make history’. Drive to survive co-Chair Sherrie Smith and her daughters Ruby and Scarlett on their way to the Drive 2 Survive on the morning of the July 7th rally © Sherrie Smith

Follow the Travellers’ Times for regular updates on the police bill, what Drive 2 Survive are going to do next, and how to get involved.

Mike Doherty for TT News

(Lead photograph: Billy Welch addresses the Drive to Survive rally © Huw Powell)


My pictures of events that day:
GRT Travellers Protest [Kill the Bill], London. 7th July 2021.

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March with horse to Europe House

Drive 2 Survive demo

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Romany Gypsy John Doe brought his horse and trolley

Romany Gypsy John Doe brought his horse and trolley all the way from Dorset to join the Drive 2 Survive Rally on July 7th. In this video he explains why.

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Fight for Travellers rights at Drive to Survive demonstration in London

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