Activism

Votes for Women March 1915

Going on a march is exciting. Its a great feeling to march with loads of other people for something that you all believe in. No-one ever changed anything through doing nothing!

When you first turn up to the march, it may seem quite confusing. Some people will be running around like headless chickens, but a lot of people will be just standing around not knowing what is going on. When it is time to get going, however, the word will pass on down the line, and groups will form up together; a lot of demonstrations will have stewards who can inform people where to go and where to march.

On most demos, there will be several themed “blocs” of people marching. For example, there are usually blocs for different unions, political ideologies, and local activist groups, and many more besides. You can choose to march with any of them that you agree with, or just stick with the group that you came with. No-one will mind!

Going on a march unsurprisingly involves a lot of walking. Because not everyone walks at the same pace, there will be a lot of stopping and starting as different groups gets too far away from each other, or traffic needs to use the road you are crossing etc. This is normal. There will be a lot of noise, as several groups will have brought their own soundsystems, being chanting, shouting, blowing whistles, etc. You can join in!

At the end of the march, there is normally a rally and a few speakers to remind everyone why we marched. There are usually food stands and places you can sit down – you can stay or you can go find somewhere else to take a break. London prices are high, so be warned.

Make sure that you have food, water and warm clothes with you – it can also be pretty miserable walking for two hours in the rain, so be prepared for foul weather! You don’t have to bring a placard or a banner, but you might feel a bit out of place if you are just walking along with your hands in your pockets. Often there will be people handing out free signs and placards that you can carry, but they’re usually bland and don’t get across why it is that YOU’RE marching.

Finally, enjoy yourselves! No matter how futile it may seem to others, or even to yourself at times, you are making a difference.

“If we don’t take a stand, and we don’t persuade a generation that they can change the world, it’s ours to lose.” – Michael Chessum, National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

 

MARCH

TUC National Demonstration 20th October

 NUS Demo 21st November

 

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Tahrir Square in February 2011

There is a peculiar trend within the activist community that all occupations, all protests, and all protesters must be defended at whatever cost from the tyranny of the state. That’s a fair enough stance to take, though I think given our manpower compared to that of the state, that’s too optimistic for me to agree with. What annoys me however, is when people ordering me to get to whatever occupation of five is being threatened by police this time assume that, if I don’t immediately head down there, its because I’m just staying in my nice warm house because I can’t hack “real activism”. The fact that I’m not at Occupy!Manchester sitting in a tent is because I’m just not good enough.

I can’t hack it? Yeah? Were you kettled for eleven hours until 1am while the police started snatching everyone who got too near them, and then when you got out, spent the night punctuated with warnings of police raids, sleeping on a freezing cold office floor under a foil blanket? Have you been a medic the night that the police tear gassed a rave and had to stay up ’til 3 in the morning in a Danish winter telling drunk and pissed off person after drunk and pissed off person to take their clothes off before entering our accommodation? Have you ever had to spray antacid into the eyes of someone who’s been pepper sprayed while they have a panic attack? Have you ever launched yourself at a policeman who’s threatening one of your friends and forcibly dearrested him? Have you ever formed a line with a whole bunch of strangers and waited as column of riot cops slowly march towards you with the express intention of knocking the crap out of you?
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