Escee reports on Greta Thunberg’s visit to Bristol on Friday, 28 February.
As I approached the site of the rally on College Green I could already hear the warm-up speakers’ voices echoing down over the Fountains which was a very good sign for the quality of their sound projection. Having been to many gatherings at the Green and sometimes finding it difficult to hear from the back of the crowd as well as demonstrating that the organisers knew what to expect despite attempts from the police to say the rally was going to be unsafe to attend due to the numbers.
Once there at the green, I was instantly struck by the numbers of attendees, which were spilling out onto the pavements and surrounding road and I think I can say that that was one of the largest, if not the largest, crowds I’d seen there before. The mood of the crowd was pleasant, mothers with babies mingled with college students and younger as the space was filled and groups made their way to try and see the speakers as the rally began.
The opening speakers were good, mentioning the continuing struggle for climate justice, the worsening weather conditions we were experiencing (globally, not just the horrible rain there that morning) and a determination to keep fighting. The main draw of the rally and march was the presence of Greta Thunberg who was the main speaker and her speech echoed and amplified many of the points raised by others, criticising the inaction from the powerful in the face of climate crisis and congratulating the campaigners who successfully fought and won against the expansion of Bristol Airport. Her speech was short but finished strongly, promising that the change needed will come and it will come from her and all those attending the rally there that day.
The vast numbers of people made organising the march around the centre of town rather difficult to arrange but eventually, it began and the vast number of attendees marched the streets of Bristol, waving whatever signs had survived the rains, chanting and showing that they won’t be deterred.
An interesting side note of this is that because of the weather conditions the grass on the Green appeared to be seriously damaged by the numbers of people walking across it, leading to a bit of a backlash from those wanting to criticise the event as pictures of the field of mud circulated online. However, a crowdfund managed to raise over £14,000 over the course of the weekend and pictures from Monday already show much of the grass recovering, showing both the willingness of the supporters to protect such spaces and the appropriateness of using the space, to begin with.
The next national climate school strike will be happening on 13 March 2020. Visit the UK Student Climate Network website to find local strikes near you.
You can find a model motion for trade union branches to support the climate strikes here.