I’ve been on quite a few protests and marches, but today was my first time with a counter march. It was also the first time the police have been on ‘my side’ of the protest!
Let’s back up a bit and explain. Today is Saint George’s day, so happy Saint George’s day everyone! There’s a group called the March for England which do marches on this day every year that masquerade as a show of love for Englishness but is actually so far right it’s bordering on fascism. They say they’re ”not a racist group” but their facebook page is full of racist and homophobic remarks.
Anyway, these loons were doing a march along the seafront in my home city, and let’s just say I’ll be very surprised if they come back in a hurry. My fellow Brightonians formed a counter-march at least three times as big as the original march – complete with a nomadic disco! Honestly there was this guy with a fake afro and sparkly shades pulling along a boom box attached to a bicycle, with people dancing along beside him.
I must say this really is the way to protest. Some of the people on the counter march were getting pretty agro and started chanting things like ”racist scum” at the marchers, which I thought was creating a bit of a bad atmosphere so I quickly moved towards the disco crew. These guys were dancing and singing the lyrics to tracks like Tragedy and Dancing Queen at the top of their voices, while waving placards and blowing whistles. Wooo! Party our way to peace, people!
As I said, I did want to oppose the march because I really disagree with their views, but shouting abuse at people (even if I don’t like them) just isn’t my thing. I thought the singing and dancing approach was much more fun. Anyway singing appropriate lyrics (go on now go, walk out the door, just turn around now because you’re not welcome anymore! etc) is more intelligent than just screaming obscenities.
Specific tactics aside, the size and enthusiasm of the opposition made me really proud of my city.
A lot of people bash protests as trouble-making or pointless. To this I will say that firstly, the majority of protesters are peaceful and it’s only a few hooligans that get angry and give the whole movement a bad name. And secondly, I really don’t think it’s pointless. Yes, governments may not change policies over night, but how is the people showing their opinions pointless? I think it’s a vital element of any democracy. There’s more to democratic citizenship than voting every few years.
I’m really not sure why anyone thought Brighton is a good place for a march like this, it’s very left-wing. It has a green MP, it’s very multi-cultural and it has the biggest gay community in the UK.
Anyway, here’s a few more pictures for you to feast on. In case you didn’t realise, the guys with the English flags and a tonne of police crowded around them are on the March for England, and the people with pink hair, dreadlocks, smiles and tattoos are the opposing side, with me and my boyfriend, although we didn’t take any pictures of ourselves.
To me active citizenship means standing up and shouting about what you believe in. Usually metaphorically, but sometimes literally!
Have a lovely day everyone ~