Jess Hurd

Archive for March, 2009

Photo-Forum Films – Know Your Rights

‘I’m a photographer, not a terrorist – Know Your Rights’

Following the successful NUJ media event outside New Scotland Yard to highlight the issues photographers have with S76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008, NUJ members organised an ‘I’m a photographer, not a terrorist – Know Your Rights’ meeting.’

The meeting was hosted by Photo-Forum in February and was introduced by photographer Peter Macdiarmid with solicitor Anna Mazzola (Hickman and Rose) and photographer Andrew Wiard.

Jason Parkinson was commissioned to shoot and edit two short films for the evening.The film is funded by the NUJ.

Click here for Know Your Rights film

The first film on terrorism legislation features Anna Mazzola and Peter Macdiarmid.

The second film features Andrew Wiard, freelance photographer, who speaks about the history and the future of the press card.

We also compiled a slideshow featuring good and bad policing which is part of an on-going Photo-Forum project. If you have images to contribute to this project please send jpeg files in sRGB colour space, maximum size 1024 pixels on the long side to:

Photo-Forum is organized by photographers as a place for working photographers across the spectrum to bring images, ideas, photo stories, approaches and work in progress for supportive debate and criticism. It runs monthly on the second Thursday of the month in Central London.

Put People First

On 28th March 35,000 marched through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their summit on the global financial crisis.

I was commissioned by People First, press images are available from here

Please credit: © Jess Hurd/

Death on the US-Mexico Border

The US-Mexico border is one of the most dangerous places in the world for migrants. Jess Hurd visited southern California to talk to those helping the vulnerable

Enrique Morones is the founder of Border Angels, a group of activists helping migrants who make the hazardous journey across the border from Mexico to the US. He is taking crosses to the rows of “John Does” graves.

These are the unnamed migrants who died trying to cross into the US and are now buried in the Holtville cemetery in the Californian desert, the largest unmarked mass graveyard in the US.

“None of these people expected to die when they were crossing the desert, yet this is where they are buried and forgotten by many people,” said Enrique.

“We put crosses up today saying, ‘Not forgotten, never forgotten’ because you have to remember that these people are heroes. They sacrificed everything to feed their families.”

In October 1994 the US government built a 14 mile wall along California’s border with Mexico.

The wall is part of California’s Operation Gatekeeper, initiated by the Clinton administration’s attempt to halt the flow of migrant workers from Latin America. Similar walls have sprung up in Texas and Arizona.

Each state built a stretch of the wall. The US is now considering expanding the wall as part of a network stretching over one thousand miles.

The California wall has blocked one of the few relatively safe routes into the US – a 20 mile journey from the Mexican border town of Tijuana to San Diego.

Now desperate migrants cross through the desert in an attempt to go round the barrier.

The graveyard at Holtville holds the remains of the many who got lost or were abandoned by smugglers. Many perished in the cruel desert heat.

“Operation Gatekeeper has meant a wall of death and a wall of shame,” Enrique said.

“I am a Mexican who was born and raised in San Diego. I started taking food and water to the illegal migrant communities who live in the canyons.

“These men, women and children come to the US and work for low wages picking fruit and vegetables.

“We launched Border Angels that set out to help the migrants. Now we go out to the desert to help track those who are lost and in danger.”

Lucressia Du Mingues died as she attempted to join her husband in the US. A smuggler abandoned her in the desert.

She crossed with her two children but they ran out of water and she died. The children were picked up by the US border patrol and sent back to Mexico.

“Lucressia’s grandfather went into the desert to try and find her remains,” Enrique said. “He found the body of a woman, but it wasn’t her. And then he found another woman, and another. Eventually he recognised the ring on a finger of his daughter’s skeletal remains.

“We estimate that more than 5,000 people have died trying to cross into the US. It is horrific that these deaths are taking place every day and in a country that likes to tout itself as the human rights leader in the world.”

Even with the wall the number of people coming into the US has not slowed. Enrique said, “The Democrat senator Ted Kennedy said, ‘Show me a 50 foot wall and I’ll show you a 51 foot ladder’. These people are coming to the US looking for opportunities.


“This country has a statue at the harbour of New York which says ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’ – well it doesn’t honour that spirit any more.

“Now your tired, your poor, your huddled masses are in the graves here in Holtville.

“Those people should be allowed to come into the country to work. That’s why the forefathers of the senators of this country came – looking for economic opportunities and religious freedom.

“It is the same thing today, but why are they keeping people out? Because they fear the unknown. The Latinos are not from the Anglo-Protestant background of the early settlers.”

Enrique blames a right wing vigilante group known as the Minutemen which patrols the border turning back or arresting migrants.

The Minutemen – named after guerrilla fighters during the American war of independence – were formed in April 2005.

Enrique said, “They use names that are patriotic to disguise the fact they are a hate group. Initially they said that they were patrolling and defending the border from Al Qaida.

“But there are three documented cases of people convicted of attempting to commit terrorist acts crossing the Canadian border but none on the US-Mexican border.

“The Minutemen are a racist movement against Latinos, and Mexicans in particular. They wrap themselves up in the US flag and say they are driven by ‘patriotism’. But they are using the politics of fear, lies and deception.”

I met a group of armed vigilantes known as the Mountain Minutemen, one of their desert lookout posts along the border.

Some were sitting by their caravans. Others were dressed in camouflage with their faces masked, peering into the darkness through night vision goggles.

The vigilantes say that they do not approach or confront any of the migrants, but alert the US border patrol when they spot a group attempting to cross.

One of the leaders of the gang, Robert “Lil Dog” Crooks, has been exposed for faking a video of the Minutemen shooting a migrant dead.

The video caused alarm among US human rights groups and Latinos about the intentions of the group.

Enrique, and other campaigners, said the vigilantes have fired at people.

“We need to shut these groups down and take away their guns,” he said.

Enrique explained that the Minutemen have been sabotaging aid stations set up to help migrants in distress.

“We saw this when we were out distributing water on the border this week. It was the first time we saw every one of our stations sabotaged. They put a knife through the water gallon containers.

“They are getting more desperate and more violent.”

Images and article © Jess Hurd.

Holtville web gallery here

Minutemen web gallery here

Socialist Worker Article here and here

Images available from

More Custard – Less Tax Dodgers

Mark Thomas, demonstrates against the offshore ownership of the Home Office and calls for more custard less tax dodgers. London.
© Jess Hurd/

See web gallery here
Images available from

Big Brother

Not that I am paranoid or anything but I found this man fitting a CCTV camera outside my front door..

Images available from

Guardian speaks to Jess Hurd and Jason Parkinson about surveillance here

Police target journalists, Guardian video here
Politicised prying, Guardian article here

Police Apology, Guardian article here

Middle Class Summer of Rage

Mark Thomas, comedian starts the Middle Class Summer of Rage by having a picnic outside New Scotland Yard. Westminster, London.

© Jess Hurd/

See Web Gallery here

Images available from

The Pound Shop

Mark Thomas, comedian campaigns for The Bank of England to be renamed The Pound Shop. City of London.

© Jess Hurd/

See Web Gallery here

Images available from

The Reader – Tear Sheet

Occupy the Treasury!

Mark Thomas calls for workers to occupy the Treasury and have a rent stike against the building owner who has his money off-shore. London.

© Jess Hurd/

See web gallery here

Images available from

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