What a nice project, ‘Grandmas and Great Grandmas for Peace’! The Leicester for Peace Vigil takes place every Friday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 at the clocktower in the City Centre. It started in December 2015 as a protest against British military intervention in Syria and Yemen and it is an act of solidarity with people everywhere who are suffering war and acts of violence. It is the longest-running protest of its kind in Britain. There are junky pieces of chalk in a number of colours available and anyone can write a message on the floor.
And the messages do come in all varieties, peace messages, human rights messages, ‘we are all one’, ‘peaceful political solution for Syria’, democracy messages, ‘Theresa May is trading her hostile envisionment for Kurdish lives’, messages addressing John Ashworth, Liz Kendall and Keith Vaz in regards to Turkey’s Erdogan and much more. It is an outpouring of community spirit addressing issues people care about but have no voice other than writing on the floor.
It is the third time we were at the peace vigil. The first time we met a young man with a French accent who had some knowledge about what was happening. He was eager to explain it to us.
The second time, at the beginning of February, we talked to Kendall Clarke. Kendall is a Quaker and seemed to be an organiser or at least a veteran at the vigil. He was about to leave because the event had just finished. Still, we managed to get an interview with him.
The third time at the clock tower was the most successful occasion because we were able to meet the original organizers who started the project, namely Penny and Marguerite, who are the grandmother and great-grandmother for peace. They explained the project to me and were happy to be interviewed.
They were very upset when the British parliament voted with a narrow majority to enter into the war in Syria. They decided to do something; they could not just sit idle witnessing the slaughter of sons and daughters, who could be their and our sons and daughters. They appreciated when I said the military commanders should be the ones at the front line in Syria and not hiding behind computer screens far away from the battlefield.
These two mothers were so simple-hearted and warm when they asked me if they could give me a hug, straight from the heart.
So many lovely people from Leicester are participating in this event week after week, so we just keep the peace vigil going. – Marguerite
Above all, they even managed to get a small grant because the event has been noticed. Even the street cleaners who come in the evening sweep around the writing to preserve it for many more days to come.
And people do read the messages. What a peaceful way to make our voices heard. And who is attracted to write and read the messages? Not everyone but thoughtful people who care about others, about the planet and about peace. They care much more than disconnected MPs far away in London.
The question could be raised why something beautiful like this is not picked up by the mainstream media. I am not aware if the local Leicester Mercury has picked up this story. It is certainly worthwhile news, community news. This weekly event has created a ‘community of interest’ and concern in which people from all walks of life, colour and creed participate in a peace and anti-war protest.