Nicola Elson reports on last night’s protest
Photography: © Alex Burstow
Just twenty-four hours after David Cameron got the green light for Syrian air strikes, the people of Falmouth responded with passionate unity.
The anti-war march that took place last night began as a simple idea on Facebook, founded by students Liam Shiner and Robyn Glass, and it received huge support from the online community, with over 400 promising to attend. Originally it was to be a silent protest on the Moor, Falmouth, but this coincided with the Christmas lights switch on, meaning that the Moor would be full of families and children. Police Constable Mat Cummins of Falmouth Police contacted the Facebook page Thursday afternoon, asking the organisers to reconsider having the march that night, suggesting that it would ‘have a negative impact on [their] cause’ if they were to disrupt the festive activities. However, he received a backlash of opposition, and when it became clear that the protest would continue no matter what, a compromise was made, and it was relocated to the Prince of Wales Pier, at the later time of 7pm, on the premise that it remained peaceful.
One of the protesters, a Falmouth local, argued that the debate over the Christmas festivities should not have taken away from the importance of the message of the rally, stating that ‘there’s been most coverage of whether it should have been or not, it just should’ve been, it is, and why we’re here is what’s important’.
Another protester said, ‘It should have been done tonight because people wanted to do it, we’ve got a right to protest in the UK, we should have a right to peacefully gather, and if you feel passionate about something today, do something about it today. If you do it tomorrow you didn’t really feel that passionate about did you?’
At first, the protest seemed to stick to its word. Despite the rain and the wind, around 150 people were gathered at the end of the pier by 7 o’clock, and once the lights in town had come on the numbers mounted rapidly. People arrived in pairs, groups, on their own, or with families. Children, students and locals stood together with cardboard placards bearing anti-war slogans, one of the protest leaders had a guitar with which he proceeded to sing songs promoting peace, and there was a donation bucket collecting money for ‘Syrian Relief’. Chants of ‘not in my name’ – the slogan coined by the Muslims when defending the Paris attacks – and ‘stop bombing Syria’ were headed by the front of the group, riling passionate cries from the body of the march. Police were on patrol, but for the most part the march remained peaceful, other than the occasional, profane, Tory-directed insult.
Overall the people who took part were happy with the protest’s outcome, proud to be part of a community that rallied together in support of peace. Two locals were impressed by the speed and the intensity of what was organised, adamant that despite pressure from the police the protest deserved to happen last night.