My career as a student activist was a decidely inglorious one. I was a lazy student when it came to protests and demonstrations. I think I may have gone on maybe three or four demos in all my time as a student. Some of them were protests about against introduction of student fees and a later one was against the building of the Cardiff Barrage. I caught a bad chill after getting soaked at one demo in London and was ill in bed for a week. Sadly, I never had the courage/organisational ability to make my own poster or banner. That takes thought and effort. So I’d end up holding a boring printed poster made by some radical left-wing organisation that didn’t quite sum up my sentiments. So I am always very interested in what people put on their home made posters. I wrote a some blog posts about Art and Protest in Art of the Protest (also in Germany & China) quite a while ago, but this is about a homemade protest.
On Friday there was the global Climate Strike to protest about the climate crisis. I had no thought of going along until I heard the day before that adults were asked to attend too. There were hundreds of people of all ages in the centre of Swansea. The fact that it was a hot sunny day in late September, just seemed to illustrate what is going wrong with the climate. Extinction Rebellion had a big presence, many of its supporters were carrying homemade drums (made from plastic washing up bowls and dustbins). They have a clever logo which is a clever play on the “X” in Exctintion and an hour glass, implying that we are running out of time.
I know a Swansea artist, who has given up painting to direct all her energies into working for this environmental group that believes in non-violent protest. They divide opinion, even amongst environmentalists, who say that their activities may be cause the government to increase anti-protest legislation rather than focusing on tackling climate crisis. Yet, they were only one of many organisations that came to their protest. There were people from political parties, trade unions, the Quakers, the Wildlife Trust, as well just ordinary people. One of the student organisers, who was one of the stewarts, worked with Swansea Trades Council. He said they’d been planning this protest for months and he was delighted at the numbers who had turned up.
Here are a selection of the wonderful homemade posters. I particularly liked the ones made by children. They had clearly spent a lot of time designing and making them.
Made on a pillowcase
Teenagers’s posters tended to be simpler with clear and heart-felt statements
The rally then morphed into a march that wound its way through the busy shopping streets of Swansea.
Stopped some traffic…and ended up outside the guildhall where anyone in the crowd was invited to step to say a few words. So they did. Young and old.
Although it wasn’t planned the march ended up inside the Guildhall inside the Council chambers. I think the protesters just asked to be let in and the security guards let them. This was later reported in the local newspapers as the protest “occupying” the council chambers and the police removing them. It was hardly, that. It was a bunch of well-behaved kids, and a few adults. Some of the adults and kids said a few words including part of a speech by climate activitst Greta Thunberg. Although we probably had all had heard her say those words before, they were still moving. We all then filed out, chanting and druming all the way. There were some police near by, chatting to each other, in their van. It was very benign. You can watch a clip of it on the BBC website here. It was much more fun than my student day protests!
So it seems that protests and posters are like a good party. They need a fair bit of preparation. You hope people will turn up. Finally, you probably enjoy other people’s far more than your own!