Showing the Way: Building The Anti-War Movement in Bristol
Bristol has always had a proud tradition of anti-war campaigning but it has surpassed itself in the last few weeks writes Ollie Turnbull
Shortly after Bristol’s defiant and deafening 1000 strong march against further UK military intervention in Syria, Bristol Stop The War Coalition organised a organising/volunteers meeting in order to utilise the momentum generated by the renewed presence of the anti-war movement on Bristol’s streets.
In the weeks leading up to the ‘Don’t Bomb Syria’ demonstration, Bristol’s streets were engulfed with anti-war sentiment. It began with a very well attended weekend protest (co-organised by Bristol Stop The War and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign) against the brutal murders in Gaza at the ‘Great Return March’, in which Bristolians made it clear that they wanted their government -and their ally in the White House- to stop funding and arming the apartheid state of Israel. There was then a series of noisy stalls around the city that gained hundreds of signatures to Stop The War’s petition against further bombing in Syria and raise the profile of the upcoming demo. There were many volunteers who came to help and converse on the streets including one veteran who served in Afghanistan.
After the demonstration over 30 people attended the follow-up organising/volunteers meeting. There was a good mix of seasoned activists and new faces invigorated to join this renewed local anti-war movement. The meeting started with a discussion around the situation in Syria and how best to resist Trump, Macron and May’s call to war.
A local Palestinian activist then introduced a discussion on the situation in Gaza and the efforts of Palestine solidarity campaigns around the world.
After an update from an activist within Labour and a student activist from the University of Bristol Friends of Palestine Society, we then formed a formal organising committee. This committee contains eleven individuals including: students, Palestine solidarity campaigners and Labour activists. The aim of the committee is to give the Bristol Stop The War Coalition the ability to respond quickly and democratically to global events and increase Bristol’s capacity to mobalise even larger numbers on the streets.
Bristol has always had a proud tradition of standing up for anti-war politics, but Bristol has surpassed itself in the last few weeks in responding to violence around the world. Bristol Stop The War feels as if it has a new lease of life and now has a structure and size to really take anti-war arguments to the streets of the city.