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19*3: Placard-spotting in London

Simon | 20.03.2005 20:51 | Anti-militarism | London

Photos from the "19.3" march and rally held on the 19th March 2005 in London, called by Stop the War Coalition, CND and MAB. Includes a montage of many of the mass-produced placards being carried, individual photos of some of the more creative ones, and the largest samba band I've ever seen. All photos are copyleft - if you like it, go ahead and re-use it!

There was this much security at the US embassy ...
There was this much security at the US embassy ...

... to protect them from this?
... to protect them from this?

Marching to Trafalgar Square
Marching to Trafalgar Square

I got a good view from here
I got a good view from here

But the police had the best observation position
But the police had the best observation position

Just some of the sambatistas (you need to hear them to appreciate them)
Just some of the sambatistas (you need to hear them to appreciate them)

Mass produced placards were in the majority
Mass produced placards were in the majority

A carefully constructed placard
A carefully constructed placard

No more porky pies Mr Bliar
No more porky pies Mr Bliar

1805 Britannia rules the waves / 2005 Britannia waives the rules
1805 Britannia rules the waves / 2005 Britannia waives the rules

Fight global warming not Iraqis
Fight global warming not Iraqis

The special relationship
The special relationship

Vote tactical for a hung parliament
Vote tactical for a hung parliament

New Labour justice
New Labour justice

Blair's ID card
Blair's ID card

Brian Haw's Parliament Square peace camp
Brian Haw's Parliament Square peace camp

Due to traffic congestion from a motorway accident, the Swindon coach arrived in Hyde Park at 1:30pm, half an hour after the march was due to leave (or start leaving), and we discovered that the march was still leaving Hyde Park - I took this as a sign that this demo had attracted enough people to reach a respectable size. Observing that the weather was very agreeable for the time of year, we joined the people filtering out of the park in the direction of the US Embassy.

The route of the march went round three sides of Grosvenor Square, but not the side that the embassy was on. The Embassy itself was on the other side of a concrete barrier, a ring of police, a ring of portable steel fence, another ring of police, another ring of steel fence...... Paid for out of our taxes, said another photographer who was also contemplating this scene. The layout of this part of the route almost seems to have been designed to preserve the park in the middle of Grosvenor Square as a kind of front garden to the embassy, so that the embassy staff can come out and eat their lunch in the park without having to cross a road full of inconvenient protestors.

At the corner where the march left Grosvenor Square, there lay a coffin with the message "100,000 dead" painted on it. Even this was kept safely outside most of the security rings.

When the march reached Trafalgar Square, I finally caught sight of the samba band which I had been hearing for most of the duration of the march. A really big samba band, probably the biggest I've ever seen all playing together, maybe 100 of them. Or is it two samba bands? There seem to be two mestres, who are both busy making different signals to the sambatistas around them, but somehow they're all in time and playing something coherent, and it sounds fantastic. I'll try not to worry too hard about how it's done, I'll just be grateful that there are so many people willing to do it.

Hard to say how many people attended the demonstration. I'm sure I heard someone proclaim from the platform that there were 150,000. Later on the Beeb I read counts of 45,000 according to police and 100,000 according to organisers.

Walking through Parliament Square after the rally, on the way back to the coach, I hold my rainbow peace flag in a token act of defiance, because it might be the last chance I ever get to (legally) walk through Parliament Square holding a peace flag.

Corporate media coverage:
Erm, there doesn't seem to have been much yet.
Independent web site? Nothing
Guardian web site? Nothing.
The Observer (paper version)? Yes, there's a photo on page 2, and the text:

"Yesterday, two years after the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq, thousands of people took to the streets to mark the anniversary. Police estimate that 45,000 protestors demonstrated in London. There was also a march in Glasgow and vigils elsewhere in Scotland."

And the photo isn't even in colour!

The Beeb do a bit better. 10 photos:

And a report:

And a few voxpops with a photos of somone by each one:

This last one is a bit odd, because it opens with a picture of a woman in a t-shirt saying "bring the troops home", but the quote alongside it says "If the soldiers left now then that would make things worse in Iraq. It would be complete anarchy. I’m here to show solidarity, and to make them think twice about invading Iran. The government’s got such a large majority they feel they can do anything. This is the only way we can show dissent."

A cock-up at the Beeb maybe?

Meanwhile, the coverage here on Indymedia:
pics and locations of other demos:
pics from the US embassy:
visible police presence pics:
more pics:
more pics (these ones are rather large):
creative protest:
more pics:
police and FIT:
Are the web cams being censored to stop people seeing the demo?

And no doubt more on their way.

- Homepage:


Hide the following 6 comments

IMC feature

21.03.2005 20:39

Round-up of 19*3 pics and reports from London, Glasgow, Dublin and around the world:


Coverage in Swindon Evening Advertiser

21.03.2005 20:47

Two articles and a letter in my local paper. They sent a journalist and photographer to see our coach off from Swindon, but they didn't come with us this time. I'm not sure who wrote the second article - don't think it was one of our coach party.

These pieces can be found in their 'todays news' location today via the Swindon News page at and tomorrow they'll move to their permanent locations in the archive - will post links once they've moved.


Date Published: Monday 21 March 2005
Pushing to turn Blair and Bush

TWO years ago, missiles were firing and bombs were dropping on Baghdad in the first wave of strikes of the Iraq War.

But even though politicians claim that the war is apparently over, the conflict and the reasons for going are still as detested today by the Stop the War Coalition, as they were in the run-up to the conflict.

British and American troops continue to die in a struggle to bring peace in the once dictatorial state.

That is why on Saturday several dozen anti-war protesters and their colourful banners left Swindon to join thousands on the streets of London.

Andy Newman, secretary of Swindon's Stop the War Coalition said: "We are going to add our weight to the argument, and we want to see British troops disengaged from Iraq immediately.

"I think we were proved right, the Iraqis have not welcomed the American or British liberators, tens of thousands of Iraqis have died and there have been more than 2,000 American and British casualties.

"The country is no safer now, in fact it's more dangerous."

Fellow protesters felt the same.

Emma Bushell, 28 from Haydon Wick said: "I am still opposed to the war. All their reasons for going have been undermined and terror attacks are increasing. It's clear troops should be withdrawn."

Ted Poole, 79 from Penhill said that the war was still illegal and was still costing many lives.

He said: "We hear about casualties from American or British troops but we never seem to hear about the about the Iraqi men, women and children who are dying out there every day."

The Rev Sidney Hinkes, vice chairman of Swindon Stop the War Coalition said: "It is important that people be able to see that the demonstrations have not ceased.

"We want to send a warning voice to other nations like Syria and Iran about America's colonial ideas."

Swindon was closer than most other towns to the Iraq War.

Vital supplies were flown from nearby RAF bases such as Lyneham and Brize Norton while at RAF Fairford north of Swindon, giant American B-52 bombers launched raids designed to batter Iraqi defences and demoralise their troops.

Even today there are bitter arguments about whether the reasons for the coalition for going to war were valid, after claims that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but no weapons have ever been found.


Date Published: Monday 21 March 2005
Trip to London and a stroll in the sun with a lolly

WITH the sun shining in London thousands of people turned out to mark the second anniversary of the war on Iraq, writes Gareth Bethell.

I would call them protesters but marching from Hyde Park, past the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square and up to Trafalgar Square you got the distinct impression that many of those involved were there for the experience rather than any deep seated political beliefs.

The Stop the War Coalition, which organized the event, say 100,000 people took part.

Personally I think someone must have been counting the pigeons as well to get to that number and the police put the figure at less than half of that ­ 45,000.

The majority of people I saw were young adults, with banners in one hand and ice lollies in the other.

The organisation of the proceedings was impressive and even though the turnout was larger than expected there were piles and piles of placards for people to pick up and wave around.

These ranged from the anti-war to the anti-Blair to the anti-American.

Anything goes as long as it's anti. But the placards seemed for many people to be an accessory rather than an expression of their beliefs.

A number of marchers I spoke to couldn't tell me what was written on what was in their hands without bringing it down to look at. Talk about mob mentality.

It also became clear right from the start that this was about more than `bringing our troops home'.

There were different groups there, each with their own agendas.

I was handed enough leaflets to publish a book, all on different issues like `Free Palestine', `SOS Colombia' and the old favourite, `Boycott Coca-Cola'.

But it's not the leafleteers I have a problem with, or even the people making money out of the protest by selling whistles.

It's the fact that so many people treated it as a day out. Taking part in a political protest is a big deal and to do it because it's a nice day or Chris Martin from Coldplay says it's a good idea undermines that whole thing.

And if you don't know what you're marching for, what's the point?


Date Published: Monday 21 March 2005
War was not an easy decision

I DO like Andy Newman, his heart is in the right place, and I do sympathise with his anti-war argument.

I think most people are anti-war. Unfortunately a significant number of people in the big world out there are not.

They have a different view on violence; some of these people are in power in countries where Andy and his supporters would not have the right to express their views.

In this country you have that right, but there is a cost; the cost, you must be prepared to defend that right.

I have to ask him and all of the other anti Iraq war protesters, to imagine that time just before the war started. And in this imaginary world they are Prime Minster of the UK. Here is the information you have:

1. Dr Hans Blix, UN search team leader, says he believes that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.

2. Dr Hans Blix and the UN search team find six Scud missiles hidden from them.

3. Dr Hans Blix's team finds, hidden away, 23 empty chemical shells as used against Iran.

4. Dr Kelly, a UK weapons expert, says he believes that Saddam Hussein has WMDs.

5. The head of intelligence tells you that Saddam Hussein has purchased several hundred chemical suits for front line soldiers.

6. The head of intelligence tells you that in the past Saddam Hussein purchased tonnes of chemicals used to manufacture chemical WMDs.

7. Dr Hans Blix and the team say they cannot find any physical or documentary evidence to prove that these chemicals have been destroyed; nor are they getting help from the Iraqis.

8. The head of intelligence reminds you that Saddam Hussein is known to have used chemical WMDs, not only against people of Iran, but also against his own people.

9. Saddam has consistently ignored numerous UN requests for openness.

These are a few of the facts known at the time, you now have to decide, war or no war.

A question you must ask yourself, "What if he attacks the UK or other friendly countries such as Kuwait, and you knew this information?"

I think the decision is very hard to make, but the decision is yours, and yours alone.

If you decide not to go to war, which then puts innocent people at risk; you know why you are not Prime Minister of the UK today. If it were easy, anyone could do it.

M Spry

Nythe, Swindon


Australian news covered this demo and others

23.03.2005 20:55

A friend in Oz reports that their media gave quite a lot of coverage to 19*3 protests, in London, Rome, lots of towns & cities across Australia and more.

So the Australian media are more interested in a demo in London than the UK media are? That's a very sad state of affairs. Good job we've got Indymedia then.

Reports and a couple of photos from protests in Australia:



24.03.2005 18:24

I wished to point out that the Guardian on Monday carried a quarter to a half page article on the event with a colour picture of a mass of poeple out and marching. It was a pro demonstration article and backed up with a fine piece by gary Young on the front page of the comment section about why the War is a pivotal issue.

It was almost like the Guardian of two years ago....not quiet....but back in the spirit!

Many Regards

John Cooper

More corporate media coverage

24.03.2005 22:34

Thanks John for the Guardian info - there's a report of various demos on their web site which I didn't spot:,2763,1441702,00.html
And a correction:,2763,1442246,00.html
And the Gary Younge article:,2763,1442368,00.html

Meanwhile, in the letters page of the local paper, a reply to "Trip to London and a stroll in the sun with a lolly"

First published on Wednesday 23 March 2005:
Different view

GARETH Bethell's report (Adver March 21) about the anti-war demonstration on March 19 surprised me.

Gareth says that the organiser's figure of 100,000 was unlikely, but I think he must have been looking just at the Trafalgar Square rally. On the march from Hyde Park itself there were clearly 100,000 plus, as the march stretched for miles.

Certainly everyone on the demo understood why they were there ­ they want an end to the war. Gareth thinks that it was inappropriate for the protesters to be enjoying the sunshine: but we value happiness, which is why we want to rid the world of war and injustice which denies life and laughter to so many.