Yesterday, I was at a lecture at the House of Commons, listening to Prof. Vlatka Hlupic suggest ways for business Leaders to better engage their employees. It was an interesting lecture, with some new ideas and tools to help make this long-term organizational goal actually happen.
But as I stepped outside, another world unfolded. It was the tail-end of the “Million Mask March” protest in Parliament Square, liberally sprinkled with the “Occupy Democracy” movement. Lots of Guy Fawkes masks. Remember V for Vendetta, the movie? Well, art had become reality in central London.
Loved this report from the UK Mirror newspaper.
“Anonymous ‘Million Mask March’: Huge police presence as thousands of masked protesters gather in central London. Thousands of anti-capitalist activists – including self-proclaimed revolutionary Russell Brand – have taken to the streets of central London to protest against “political oppression”.
Demonstrators wearing the sinister Guy Fawkes masks popularised in the 2005 film V for Vendetta and carrying banners and placards converged on Trafalgar Square before marching towards Parliament Square at 6.30pm.
Protesters chanted anti-establishment slogans as they milled around, and some who had climbed on to the base of Nelson’s Column let off fireworks. There was a heavy police presence at both Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, as well as along Whitehall, with officers carrying riot gear, but the protest began peacefully.
There was a chorus of boos and whistles as an officer from the Metropolitan Police warned protesters about their behaviour over a loud hailer. The protest, the so-called Million Masks March, was organised by activist group Anonymous”.
Sinister masks? Really! Looked more like carnival time to me! Honestly, as far as I could tell, except for a few heated moments and the odd arrest, it was a very “British” protest. The cops were smiling (most of the time) and were acting with great restraint and good humour. Most of the marchers seemed like they were on a late night picnic.
And everyone (police as well) was taking pictures on their phones.
Funnily enough, I couldn’t see any “real” journalists as the night developed. I guess most had taken photos of the initial protest gathering in the Square, and then went home to file.
I decided to follow the march, as it spread across London. Kind of caught the police by surprise, I think, at Buckingham Palace, though all was fairly civilised.
Along the way, a Russian lady, first time visitor to the UK, from St. Petersburg for the World Travel Mart, asked me what was going on. She seemed bemused to hear that the Brits celebrate the ultimate (failed) terrorist act, performed by Guy Fawkes, as he tried to blow up Parliament. “What are you celebrating?” she asked. Hard to anwer, I replied, though “Free Speech” comes to mind. And the protestors had simply appropriated this age-old British fireworks celebration.
Much to my chagrin, I did not have the Leica, just the iPhone. So, I wondered just what could be done in low light with the iPhone 6.
I don’t claim the pictures are great, but it does add to the revolution that we are seeing in citizen journalism.
The Barricades at Parliament Square
Guardians at Big Ben (should say, The Elizabeth Tower)
What We Want
Scuffle on Birdcage Walk …
… and an arrest
Circling back on Oxford Circus
.. and the Watchers