Protest Stickers: Egham 2

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Protest stickers at the main entrance to Royal Holloway, University of London (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 16/11/16).

Around the time I was putting together the first Protest Stickers: Egham blog post, person or persons unknown went on a protest stickering spree on and around the Royal Holloway campus. I can’t know for certain that they were all put up at the same time by the same person (or people), but I suspect that they were. The next time I was back on campus two weeks later, quite a few had been peeled or scratched off, so I think that I just happened to be at Royal Holloway just after they were all put up. All of the photos in this post were taken on one of these two days, the 16th and the 30th of November.  Most of the stickers were anti-fascist, which is a very common topic for protest stickers, and also another reason why I think that they were all put up at the same time.

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This is the only sticker that explicitly mentions a campaign group. Anti-fascist groups often put up stickers when they travel to other places, and it appears that the London Anti-Fascists  are no exception (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Harvest Road, 16/11/16).

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I like the powerful visual imagery of this sticker, which I found at the traffic lights at the top of Egham Hill, close to the Royal Holloway campus (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Egham Hill, 30/11/16).

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This sticker uses the same image as the last one, but the wording is slightly different (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Harvest Road, 16/11/16).

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My Dad is not a big fan of board games, and whenever we force him to play Monopoly he always sabotages the game by adopting this approach, and refusing to buy anything. I’m pretty certain this sticker isn’t referring to my Dad’s Monopoly style though (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Royal Holloway Campus, 16/11/16).

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This sticker was located at the main entrance to Royal Holloway, making its message all the more meaningful. Someone took exception to it however, as when I went back two weeks later it had been completely removed (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Royal Holloway Campus, 16/11/16 and 30/11/16).

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This sticker was on the other side of Royal Holloway’s main entrance. It was also removed by the time I went back, but not quite as effectively. I wonder if it was the same person who scratched both of them off (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Royal Holloway Campus, 16/11/16 and 30/11/16).

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This sticker is also at the traffic lights at the top of Egham Hill. It has also been scratched away, but because of its location nest to a pedestrian crossing, I am inclined to suspect it was more to do with boredom whilst waiting for the lights to change than a strong opposition to the sticker’s message (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Egham Hill, 30/11/6).

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This is the same sticker, on the road between the traffic lights and Englefield Green, a village even smaller than Egham. It has not been defaced, so the sticker’s message is clear (Photo: Hannah Awcock, St. Jude Road’s, 30/11/16).

 

On This Day: The Coldbath Fields Riots, 13th May 1833

In a previous On This Day post, I wrote about the death of PC Keith Blakelock in the Broadwater Farm Riots in 1985. He was only the second police officer to be killed in a British riot since 1833. In June 1919, Station-Sargeant Green died of injuries received during a riot of Canadian soldiers in Epsom. The officer killed in 1833 was PC Robert Culley, who was stabbed in the chest during the Coldbath Field Riots over 150 years before. The response of the public to the two deaths in 1985 and 1833 was vastly different, demonstrating just how much the Metropolitan Police’s reputation with Londoners has improved since its foundation in 1829.

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A poster advertising the protest that would become the Coldbath Fields Riots.

The Coldbath Fields Riots on the 13th of May 1833 was the first major clash between radicals and the young Metropolitan Police. The National Union of the Working Classes (NUWC) organised a demonstration in Coldbath Fields against the 1832 Reform Act. The Reform Act increased the number of men allowed to vote, but only by a small amount, and it didn’t go far enough for the NUWC. The Home Secretary, Lord Melbourne, declared the meeting illegal, but it went ahead anyway. On the afternoon of the 13th of May a large crowd had gathered, listening to speeches given from the back of open wagons.

After a while, a large detachment of police arrived and began to clear the crowd. The high number of police officers raised tensions, leading to shouted insults. The police trapped some of the protesters in nearby Calthorpe Street, who then attempted to fight their way out. In the ensuing chaos, three police officers were stabbed; Sergeant John Brooks, PC Henry Redwood and PC Robert Culley. Brooks and Redwood both survived, but Culley only made it to the nearby Calthorpe Arms before he died.

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An engraving of the Coldbath Field Riots by J. Prater (Sources: Mary Evans Picture Library).

Robert Culley was one of the first men to join the Metropolitan Police, aged 23, when it was founded. Although the murderer wasn’t caught, the inquest into Culley’s death began two days later, in an upstairs room of the same pub where he died. The 17 men of the jury returned a verdict of Justifiable Homicide, arguing that the police had provoked the crowd with their violent approach to policing the protest. The men of the jury were local shopkeepers and householders, not radicals, and their verdict reflected the extensive mistrust and disregard that most Londoners felt for the Metropolitan Police at the time. Many resented the state intervention that the new force represented, and the jury became local heroes. The following month, a riverboat trip was arranged for them and their families to Twickenham, and crowds lined the river to cheer them on, despite heavy rain. In a similar way, George Fursey, the man who stabbed the other two police officers, was acquitted in his trial at the Old Bailey in July.

The public outcry and widespread condemnation after the death of PC Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm Riots could hardly seem more different to the reaction to the death of PC Culley 150 years before. The Metropolitan Police is not universally liked today, but it is hard to imagine the death of an officer during a protest receiving such a callous response. For better or worse, the police force has become part of the fabric of modern London in a way that might surprise an onlooker from the early nineteenth-century.

Sources and Further Reading

Moult, Tom. “The Metropolitan Police in Nineteenth-Century London: A Brief Introduction.” New Histories 3, no. 5 (2012). Available at  http://newhistories.group.shef.ac.uk/wordpress/wordpress/the-metropolitan-police-in-nineteenth-century-london-a-brief-introduction/

Rowland, David. “The Murder of Police Constable Robert Culley.” Old Police Cells Museum. Last modified 18th October 2015, accessed 28 April 2017. Available at  http://www.oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/page/the_murder_of_police_constable_robert_culley

Webb, Simon. Bombers, Rioters and Police Killers: Violent Crime and Disorder in Victorian Britain. Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2015. 

London’s Protest Stickers: Anti-Fascism 2, History and Geography

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An anti-fascist sticker in front of the Cable Street mural (Photo: Hannah Awcock, St. George’s Gardens, 09/10/16).

Apart from anarchists, anti-fascist groups may be the most prolific sticker-ers that I have ever come across. So much so that they’ve provided me with enough material for a second blog post (the first post can be found here). In this post, I am focusing on the ways in which anti-fascist groups interact with, and make use of, history and geography. For many activists and social movements, the memory of past protests and events is an important source of inspiration and morale. This process is demonstrated by stickers that refer to significant moments in the history of anti-fascism. Geography also seems to be significant to anti-fascists, as many stickers refer to particular locations or local groups. It seems like anti-fascists might be as pre-occupied by time and space as geographers are!

The location of all the stickers featured in this post and others are marked here, on the Turbulent London Map.

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Based on the background of this sticker, I assume it is referring to the holocaust, a powerful reminder of the atrocious acts committed because of fascism. This sticker is one of those that appeared on Cable Street around the 80th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Cable Street, a significant moment in anti-fascist history (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/10/16).

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This sticker directly refers to the Battle of Cable Street, making a connection between past anti-fascist movements and present ones. I found this sticker in Cable Street itself, so the connection between past and present is even stronger (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/10/16).

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Using the same text and layout as the sticker above connects the Battle of Lewisham into this narrative of anti-fascism in London. On the 13th of August 1977, a National Front march in East London was met by counter-demonstrations, leading to violent clashes between the two groups and the police. There are striking similarities with the Battle of Cable Street (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/10/16).

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This sticker is also using the past to inspire modern-day anti-fascism, this time the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. The Polish resistance timed the uprising in occupied Warsaw to coincide with the advance of the Soviet Army, but the Russians halted their advance, leaving the resistance to face the German Army alone. They held out for 63 days before they were defeated (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Cable Street, 09/10/16).

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This sticker is not making a direct connection between past and present ant-fascism, but it is referring to a victory in anti-fascist history. In July 1936 a military coup in Barcelona was thwarted by forces loyal to the government and members of an anarchist union. It was one of the events that contributed to the start of the Spanish Civil War (Photo: Hannah Awcock, New Cross Road, 20/03/16).

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If history is important to anti-fascists, then so is geography. Anti-fascist groups often make stickers with their name and location on, placing them in their local area and when they travel to different towns and cities. This sticker was put up by the London Anti-fascists on their home turf, Euston Road (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 03/09/15).

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I found this sticker, produced by the Merseyside Anti-Fascist Network, in front of the Cable Street Mural after the 80th anniversary march of the Battle of Cable Street. I suspect that someone from the Network came to London for the anniversary, but didn’t want to leave without leaving their mark (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/10/16).

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Some anti-fascist groups come from even further afield. This sticker is produced by the 161 Crew, a Polish group (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Elephant and Castle, 15/07/16).

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Most anti-fascist groups have a location, but the No-Fixed Abode Anti-Fascists are unusual. They are a group of squatters, travellers, and homeless people, focusing particularly on bailiffs (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Tavistock Square, 09/02/16).

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Anti-fascist groups can sometimes be quite territorial, using stickers to declare certain areas ‘Anti-fascist zones’ or simply by making their presence known, as in this sticker (Photo: Hannah Awcock, Malet Street, 12/03/15).