By William Budd, First Year, History
Demonstrators marched through the centre of Bristol in solidarity with Palestinian civilians on Saturday, October 14 in Bristol City Centre.
It was a march from Castle Park to College Green in solidarity with Palestinians affected by the conflict in the region.
People from a wide range of demographics were in attendance, marching with flags and banners, and chanting slogans.
The demonstration comes in response to the Israeli retaliation to a surprise attack by Hamas, the militant organisation currently serving as the de facto government of Palestine in Gaza, who launched attacks on a number of Israeli towns and settlements on the morning of Saturday, October 7.
According to official Israeli sources, these attacks reportedly killed at least 677 Israelis and foreign nationals. The retaliation has had a widespread impact on Palestinian citizens, particularly the cutting off of electricity to Gaza.
Protesters gathered in and around the bandstand in Castle Park at around 1 pm., with the crowd building in size from that point. Some of the demonstrators climbed atop the bandstand, waving Palestinian flags and leading chants of ‘Free Palestine'.
Protest leaders gave speeches from a microphone set up in the bandstand, along with others speaking on behalf of groups such as the NEU (National Education Union), voicing their support for the movement.
Specific criticisms were levelled at the UK government by those giving speeches, criticising both Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not putting their support behind Palestine.
This comes following Braverman’s letter indicating, ‘the waving of a Palestinian flag, may not be legitimate such as when intended to glorify acts of terrorism’, with many fearful of demonstrations around the country occurring today, in places such as London and Liverpool, being deemed illegal on these grounds.
Following speeches given, at 2 p.m., demonstrators began their march from Castle Park to College Green, walking through traffic up High Street, then through Corn Street Market and up towards Colston Avenue.
The march continued in the direction of Bristol Hippodrome and arrived at College Green at around 2:40 p.m.
The demonstrators stopped a number of times on the march, to wave flags and chant, as well as some flares being lit, with one banner notably saying, ‘Bristol Loves Peace’.
Upon arrival at College Green, protestors congregated on the grass in front of Bristol City Hall, levelling criticisms at the City Council for agreeing to light up City Hall in the colours of the Israeli flag days prior.
This was accompanied by further speeches on a microphone, with the crowd continuing to chant and wave flags. This continued for the next hour, with the crowd diminishing over time and the protest having effectively ended by 4:30 p.m.
The police remained in attendance throughout the march and static sections of the protest, but events remained peaceful, and no police intervention took place.
Further marches are planned to take place in the city, with another on Sunday, October 29 being advertised at the march.
Charlie Gadd from the Socialist Worker Student Society who was also present at the protest pointed out that: ‘It was great to see so many people out in Bristol today showing solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.'
'People in Bristol are angry. We’ve seen indiscriminate bombings on the people of Gaza that have not been condemned by our politicians… It was British imperialism that created this problem, so it’s vital we see resistance in this country against what’s happening.’
University of Bristol Arab Society who was present at the rally told Epigram: ‘As demonstrated today, the city of Bristol would like to demonstrate its advocation for the right side of history once again, this time through its unwavering support of the Palestinian cause.
'Hopefully, the voice of those who were affected can be heard by the citizens of this community, to unite the world against injustice.’
Featured image: William Budd
Bristol University offers support to anyone affected by international conflicts: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2023/october/israel-and-gaza-message.html
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