On May 9th, 2015, thousands of people marched in London and demonstrated in Cardiff, just a day after we woke up to a Tory majority government. Several more rallies and demonstrations have been planned for the next few weeks (e.g. Sheffield and Bristol), and local and national anti-austerity groups are finding the energy to fight back.
Not all of us are able to participate in these actions.
Within its first 24 hours of being thought up and used, thousands of tweets were made using #wecantmarch and it gained a huge amount of attention on Twitter. So many amazing radical people – disabled, trans, queer, people of colour, working class, international, parents and those with caring responsibilities, and people who intersect many of these categories – are contributing to the hashtag. People are offering stories about why they cannot march against Tory cruelty, celebrating alternative forms of radical activism, demonstrating their eagerness to help with direct action, and calling for activist communities to value our work. The aim of #wecantmarch is to coordinate and crowd-source resources so that those who cannot participate in traditional direct action can be active. We are calling for a radical shift of narrative regarding how we do activism and direct action: we want to move away from considering those able to be on the front line as top of the activist hierarchy, and expose and celebrate all of the other, more accessible radical work that can be done, and is being done. To build a radical movement, and effectively fight back against Tory and State violence, inclusivity, diversity and accessibility are crucial.
It is important to note that we in no way oppose marching, demonstrations, or radical direct action. Black Lives Matter, for example, has been a phenomenal force, an extremely powerful movement, with so many radical aspects – from blocking highways, occupying spaces (even police stations), “Black Brunches”, in addition to an incredible swell of legal and jail support, community-building efforts, online organising/activism, and fundraising. We are completely and utterly in favour of radical and revolutionary action, but “radical action” can manifest itself in so many shapes and forms. What is usually assumed to be the most valuable work of direct action – marching, occupying, civil disobedience, etc – can often be inaccessible to those the hardest hit by Tory policies and State violence. Some of us can’t stand or walk around for hours, some of us can’t stand in crowds of thousands of strangers, some of us are rightly terrified of the police, and for some of us the risk of being arrested is life-threatening.
Since the hashtag took off on Twitter, there have been so many incredible contributions and suggestions, but we’ve also noticed an attempt from some who are anti-protest and anti-direct action to co-opt our struggles for ‘proof’ that radical action isn’t helpful. Don’t make that mistake. We’re not here to silence or shame protesters, we’re here to highlight that people can be pushed aside, alienated and invisibilised by traditional and most visible methods of action. Solidarity efforts, behind-the-scenes work, fundraising – to name but a few – are not only essential to the fight, but make demonstrations and direct-actions themselves safer and more accessible.
This Storify has been set up to collect some of the useful suggestions that came through Twitter. We are currently organising this blog so that we can offer it as an accessible resource.
ANOTHER exciting thing to have come from this is that some people have taken it upon themselves to organise #wecantmarch meet-ups in their towns and cities, to discuss among themselves how they can contribute to direct action! This is incredible, and there’s already talk of meetings in London, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Liverpool.
If you’re interested in helping us out, contributing to the blog, or want more information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.