Stop the War Coalition has slogans freshly printed on hundreds of pickets up for grabs. The meeting point of protesters from around Britain is at Marble Arch in Hyde Park. Once the ammunition of signs has been distributed, the peaceful army begins its march towards Trafalgar Square, where a hefty agenda of demands awaits to resound throughout the landmark.
Two hours of marching later, the crowd enters the square and the speeches begin. “…We condemn the escalation of this pointless, unwinnable war”, says one speaker as protesters cheer. “Now is time our government bring our soldiers back home!”.
As the forensics unravel at the foot of Nelson’s Column, picketers find benches and stairs to rest. The signs asking to “bring the troops back home” sit on the ground and for a moment this solution to years of political, military and civil unrest looses its legs.
I walk up to a man holding a picket and ask him if he believes in what the sign he’s holding says. “Do I look like a lunatic to you?”, he asks and then tells me to get lost.
A young, self-proclaimed socialist standing nearby is holding as many signs as his fingers can wrap around. He tells me he is a firm believer in bringing back the troops as a solution to the Afghan war. “If the soldiers are not there, then the enemy will go away”.
A grandmother and her friend traveled from York to protest the war. Her solution is time regression. “The solution would have been to never have gone there in the first place. Then things would have sorted themselves out in a non-violent way”.
A group of goth teenagers have made their own large banners against the war. They don’t know if bringing the troops is the solution, but “honestly, it’s not our problem”.
Some people in the crowd do care, though. They are the ones nodding at speeches about sensible withdrawal strategies. Later, the Coalition will tout in their website about the success of the rally, the amount of people who gathered for a demand of peace. To bring back the troops. Hold a picket and stand together.