On what is seemingly a dark day in the global landscape, across the world people have risen up in unity to speak out against social injustice and divisive policies. To build bridges, not walls. Banners were dropped from buildings all across The UK and Europe with messages of hope, love and justice. I was at the Blackfriars bridge in London to document the drop.
Despite some diligent frost it was a beautifully sunny day, pretty much perfect conditions for the plans ahead. Various environmental groups were gathered at Blackfriars by 8am on January 20th, including Divestment Groups, Campaign Against Climate Change, Greenpeace and members of the UK Green and Labour Parties. Despite uncertainty, despite battles ahead, there was a sense of solidarity and hope. As the group continued to grow, it was clear that there are still people across the globe who are determined to fight for a better world. The drop was organised to a tee, there had been previous training on how to drop banners safely, nonviolent protesters constantly made sure they weren’t getting in the way of pedestrians, and police happily chatted to organisers to let them know they were there in case anyone needed help. These small acts of consideration and kindness showed that this message isn’t just about getting angry and irrational (although being angered by injustice is definitely necessary), but about cooperation and working together to resist.
The banners were released at 8.30am across all bridges, alongside large handheld Bridges Not Walls signs. As the environmental bridge, our banner read ‘There is No Planet B’. Locals on their way to work, passers by and local media all stopped to see what the messages were about. Boats continually sailed under, carrying both commuters and cargo, with several crew members leaning out of the windows to cheer alongside us. From Blackfriars I could make out Waterloo Bridge’s ‘Still We Rise’ banner, and I was reminded that humanity can and will continue to persevere and work for justice for all. The Bridges Not Walls boat made its way across the river, documenting all of the banners, and as it passed it was met by loud cheers from each bridge. (Also, kudos to all on the boat because I can’t imagine how cold it must have been)
Once the banners were taken up again, there was an open celebration of unity on Millennium Bridge open to anyone who wanted to go. I couldn’t make it myself, but these images speak for themselves.
I believe that action is always important. Whether it be protest, raising awareness or hosting events, it’s important that we continue to talk about the problems in modern society and confront them head on. Whilst we have seen steps of progress across the world, there is still so much to be done, and this can only work if all of us (especially those of us in positions of privilege) work together to see it happen. Being part of Bridges Not Walls not only spurred me on to continue pursuing all things ethical here in the hopes of equipping you guys, it also reminded me that I am part of a global movement of people who care about this planet and the equality of the people on it. Being part of demonstrations and global action is a reminder that the fight is worth it and we do it together. It’s a reminder that all hope isn’t lost, and that we aren’t alone.
Today, London made me proud. The people stood together for a multitude of causes that are so important. We stood for a future we believe in. Despite the events of 2016, people still showed up to say that we aren’t giving up yet. So let’s keep fighting.
Below are the banners from all the main bridges across London:
Tower Bridge: Build Bridges Not Walls
Blackfriars: There is No Planet B
London Bridge: No to Silence on UK Violence #blacklivesmatter
Southwark : Unite against Islamophobia
Millennium Bridge: What Happens Next is Up To Us
Waterloo: Still We Rise + the trans-feminism symbol
Westminster: Migrants Welcome Here
Lambeth: Bridges Not Walls
Vauxhall: Queer Solidarity Smashes Borders
Yes, today is tough. Yes, there may be dark days ahead. It won’t be easy, but together we are strong, and together we can see change happen. Keep fighting.
Keep building bridges, not walls.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.