I was at the peace march on Armistice Day 2023. Maybe up to 5,000 people of every background turned up. The opposition consisting of one person muttering aloud about disrespecting the day, but that was all. Nothing happened to interrupt the march.
There were placards, ‘Stop the Genocide’, ‘Free Palestine’, ‘Jews against Genocide’, one dog saddled with a ‘Stop Genocide’ placard, another with a coat knitted as in the colours of the Palestinian flag.
The protests have been going on every Saturday for weeks now, but the usual rallying point next to the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture has now been given over to Edinburgh’s Christmas market. This rally met on Waverley Bridge instead. Those attending the memorial garden at the base of the Scott Monument did so without hindrance or alarm – all as expected, not the least by Police Scotland.
The crowd, led by a police van, walked down Prince’s Street to St. James’s Quarter, the head of the march going through the centre, the tail around the side, then back to Waverley. Folks whose trams were delayed may have been complained. But as a peace march, attended by folk seeking peace in Gaza and Israel, it went peacefully.
There were problems in London, however. Over 150 protesters – out of an estimated 300,000 – were detained by police at Grosvenor Square. Trouble broke out around the Cenotaph where at least 100, mostly far-right ‘counter protesters’, briefly led by Tommy Robinson, got in to the brawl they sought – albeit with the Met Police.
While in Edinburgh, from what I saw and heard, and from what I’ve read from Saturday’s Glasgow and Aberdeen protests, it was calm. In Scotland, people were just out marching to decry the slaughter of thousands of innocent people, thousands of miles away from its shores.