This is the story of my first real bit of analogue shooting at the G20 protests in London back in April 2009.
When I was on a trip to visit some friends in London, I hadn’t imagined getting embroiled in the protests that were taking place over the situation with the UK banking institutions. The protest was arranged to coincide with the G20 summit, and I knew people were coming from all over the country to take part. You can read more about the protest here – wikipedia.org.
As my girlfriend worked for a bank and we were on a sightseeing holiday, we didn’t think we would be anywhere near the protest. However, on the morning of 1 April 2009 as we made our way to The London Dungeon, we exited the tube station to find ourselves surrounded by crowds of people, waiting to march over the river to The Bank of England.
I had never been to a protest in my whole life before, and I immediately got caught up in all that was going on. There was a lot of costume, music, a very cheery atmosphere, and even a large brass band.
Once the crowd started to move over the bridge and the band played one of my favourite songs “Mardi Gras in New Orleans”, I couldn’t help but follow, captivated. As I said, the atmosphere was friendly and there was music and laughing as we walked over the bridge together.
Once the crowds arrived (and there was well over 50,000 protestors in London that day so I do mean crowds!), they met all the people who had marched in from different areas and we were now all stationary by the Banks. We weren’t worried about the number of police present and assumed it was just them being cautious. While we were stood around there were DJs and dancers and artists, and it all felt very friendly and peaceful.
Unfortunately, the protest took a nasty turn later when the Police had to kettle in the protestors and none of us were able to leave the square outside the banks. We were kept there for over 4 hours. Claire and I just sat around, happy to be taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere, but in many areas it turned nasty with Police and protestors clashing as people tried to get out. Tragically, later on in the evening (we had left at the first opportunity so fortunately had missed all this) after all this had gone on for some time, a man died after an encounter with a rather rough officer.
This was a brilliant opportunity for me to see a protest and get to shoot it with my analogue camera (only had one at the time!). It was a shame how it ended but it was definitely because of a minority there to cause trouble because all the people I had met that day were peaceful to the very end.