A four-day Peace Gathering last weekend brought peace activists from across the south west together in Castle Park peace grove to network, learn, and deliver a petition to Mayor Marvin Rees.
The Gathering, organised by XR Peace and Bristol Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) officially began on Friday (August 6) with a die-in at 8.15am – marking the moment the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Later in the day local protest band Bayou Tapestry drew a crowd and helped bolster spirits against the inclement weather.
Sheltering under gazebos, attendees across the weekend enjoyed a packed schedule of 11 talks and workshops addressing nuclear war and nuclear power, migration and refugees, and Bristol’s arms industry.
Sunday’s highlight was a talk on the 40th anniversary of the Greenham Common Peace Camp, which will be marked by a recreation of the original 1981 march from Cardiff to Greenham, passing through Bristol on August 28-29.
The weekend also provided opportunities for networking between different groups, with XR Bristol and Christian Climate Action both making an appearance, as well as representatives of the campaign against the Hinkley nuclear power station in Somerset.
During breaks in the weather, passers-by had fun having photos taken with XR Peace’s 5-meter-high peace symbol, most recently seen touring Bristol’s landmarks.
On Monday the Gathering was brought to a close with a procession to City Hall to deliver a petition, shaped like a peace dove, to Marvin Rees. The petition calls on Bristol City Council to support the UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and to pressure the UK Government to do the same.
By chance, the procession ran into Marvin Rees himself outside City Hall and campaigners were able to hand him the petition in person.
Event organiser Rowland Dye, of XR Peace, said the Gathering is important because “[w]e have a massive arms industry, particularly across North Bristol, that most people genuinely don’t know about. We’ve got the military, we’ve got the arms industry – these are fuelling conflict zones around the world…[Bristol’s] not standing on the right side of history.”