Another day, another weekend, another bank holiday and another protest.
The current season, with its minor easing of lockdown, has led to quite the series of protests in the little town where I make my home. Wile it’s all under the umbrella cause of opposing the current policing bill (a cause which anyone with a cause to protest will almost automatically turn out for), there have been other protests under the same flag. The first protest I photographed was against the policing bill. The second was the policing bill and Black Lives Matter, with a sprinkling of May Day labour banners. Today it was “Solidarity With Palestine”, “Solidarity With Colombia” and while we’re at it “Kill The Bill”.
Each time I write up one of these things I spend a little less time describing – that’s not because they’ve gotten less interesting, it’s because they all follow the same rough format. They all begin at the town clock tower, march down the high street, make their way to the promenade and end in a public park where there’ll be speeches. It’s hard to write this more than once and make it sound different. It was though. The banners had changed. So had some of the faces. Others had stayed the same – the banner at the front of the parade has been at all three of these protests that I’ve seen (and probably the one I missed).
Also, the streets we navigated have gotten more crowded. On a bank holiday Saturday at the end of May that’s not unexpected, but it’s noticeable.
So. Banners, march, procession, speeches.
I made it six speakers – two speaking regarding Palestine, two on Colombia, one representative of Unite, one of the Labour Party (plus one poet). Different speeches, different styles, some persuading, some stating, some literally yelling their message at the assembled crowd. Other people writing in other places, can give you a better picture of what they said. I was too busy snapping pictures to get it word by word, and on subjects like this I’m not going to approximate. I have a strict rule about impartiality when I’m working, and I’m not going to break that through a misatributed quotation.
The speeches seemed to run a little longer than last time, and some of them ran pretty hot. I watched the crowd as much as the speakers, and while I couldn’t swear to it I’d say it’s smaller than the first of these that I photographed. Couldn’t tell you why, but if there were a hundred present it was only barely. Time went on. The sky darkened. People were hurried through the last speeches to try and beat the rain. At the last speaker but one I noticed the knot of police (who’d been with the parade throughout to stop and direct traffic) gathered with a group of protestors, and took myself over to see if anything dramatic or photogenic was going to happen.
It didn’t. As near as I can gather there some discussion about the limits of protest, after an earlier speaker had been asked not to use profanity in her speech (for the record, speeches were made over a PA system on a field adjoining a children’s playground, and some of the vocabulary had been getting more than a little adult). It faded. People moved away. The protest ended, fraying at the edges as people with an eye on the lowering clouds drifted off home.
I have to wonder what cause will be the next. A protest against the policing bill is a protest for the right to protest, it’s going to have a broad following, people of every political persuasion and none at all, and other protests are happening under the same banner.
I’m hoping I’ll photograph the next one in another, and larger, town.
The above is a factual description of events that I witnessed on the 29th of May 2021. Eventss are based on my memory, which is of course fallible. To the best of my knowledge, the details I have provided are accurate.
Correlation between text and events should not necessarily be inferred unless specifically stated.
All images used in this article are my own work, and I retain full copyright to them.