Activists from XR Youth decorated the Cascade Steps with origami peace lotuses to raise awareness of the links between war and the climate crisis.
A group of 14 activists arrived at the Steps at 14:00, bringing delicately crafted lotuses, XR flags, and a banner bearing the words “War is Ecocide, Ecocide is War”, which was strung up on the harbour railings.
Poppy, a member of XR Youth, explained how the group wanted to ‘talk about the link between war and the climate crisis. War causes the climate crisis and also the climate crisis causes war.’
[Picture of Lotuses. Caption: The action was designed to be eye-catching and artistic.]
The action took place on Sunday, May 30, when the Steps and surrounding harbourside were packed with members of the public enjoying the sun, many of whom expressed interest in the action and asked protesters about why they were there.
The plan had been to float the lotuses in the harbour, however, after it was realised that this would ruin the lotuses a decision was taken to instead move them to the statue of Neptune, on St Augustine’s Parade.
Here they were used to garland the statue, who had also been given a placard reading “Love Tridents, Hate Missiles. Don’t you have anything better to spend £205 million on Mr Johnson?”
A passer-by, not part of the protest, remarked ‘I didn’t realise it was so much [being spent on Trident]. Two hundred and fifty million and I get a 1% pay rise? I’m not happy about that.’
Bristol is home to the military industry, with the Ministry of Defence’s global procurement facility based at Abbeywood, in Filton. Activists from Palestine Action have also drawn attention to the presence in Bristol of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest privately-owned arms manufacturer.
Poppy, who studies at the University of Bristol, is no stranger to this but refuses to take part: ‘as a physics student, all I get is adverts for working in BAE Systems….I turn down this stuff.’ Although, she admitted, ‘I’m in a privileged position that I’m able to do that.’