Our Peace Is A Process

An epistle from the Quaker Roots retreat, March 2024

Our Peace Is A Process

Recently a small group gathered at Huddersfield Local Meeting, for a weekend retreat, recognising our need to rediscover the spiritual roots of our peace testimony.

For a few days we tried to realise “the Republic of Heaven” here on earth, as best we could, with each person offering their gifts and energies, giving and receiving in friendship and community, “from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”, as Karl Marx so aptly put it. Grounded in a foundation of deep stillness and silence, we moved and meditated together, walked and worshipped, reflected and shared, spoke and sang, cooked and ate and talked together, embodying the peace we so long to see in our world.

At the start of the retreat we began by returning to the early roots of our Quaker Peace Testimony, grounding ourselves with the words of Margaret Fell, that reminded us that:

We are a people that follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity; it is our desire that others’ feet may walk in the same.

As a Quaker Roots community, we heard this reminder as a query. Are we clear enough in our knowledge of those things that make for peace, love and unity? Are we courageous enough in our following? We continue to sit with this query and are excited by the challenge to keep deepening our knowledge and growing our courage to follow.

One theme that emerged strongly throughout the retreat was the importance of community in our being able to follow after those things that make for peace, love and unity, especially community with those suffering first hand as a result of war, violent conflict and oppression. During one Meeting for Worship we heard this reading from the theologians Rita Nakashima Brock and Rebecca Ann Parker, from their book ‘Saving Paradise’:

Sustaining communities must be at the forefront of our work, and we must accept that we have power and responsibility to foster life in them. To be both powerful and responsible requires us to be committed to the sometimes difficult, sometimes joyful relationships of human communities. They are the only way we come to perceive and act upon the world for a greater good that both includes and transcends our individual existence. People with strong commitments to strong communities make them happen. They create the institutional structures that enable communities to endure the comings and goings of individual lives, failures in leadership, and the difficulties that are inevitable in life. Communities of ethical grace sustain relationships that require us to share responsibly, act generously towards one another, and resist oppressive and dominating forces that separate human beings from each other and deny our powers of love and friendship. They value the distinctive gifts of individuals for the good of the whole and require us to be open and vulnerable to the many complex dimensions of life that support the survival and thriving of life on earth, in all its diversity.

We recognise that there is much for us to learn here and much important work for us to do as we seek to move forward, but one clear lesson we have taken away from the retreat is the importance of regular, spacious gatherings, ideally in person, where we can slow down, centre down, and share in much deeper, more intimate ways, discerning ways forward together. We look forward to more retreats in the future, and also to exploring other ways of gathering together that grow faithfulness to our peace testimony.

Recognising the extremism of the arms trade in it’s ruthless and relentless drive for profit, we were also reminded of the importance of our own creative extremism for peace, love and unity, reading the following from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail’, where he writes:

Though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream’… So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or the extension of justice? … Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

We know that we have been called to be a community of creative extremists for peace, love and unity, and, in the face of so much violence and bloodshed globally, we feel deeply that we must continue in our peace testimony and work faithfully to find new and creative ways to do this in the years ahead, at DSEI and elsewhere.

We closed the retreat with a reading from Rex Ambler on the Peace Testimony, where he writes:

To testify truly we must be clear that peace is a process that begins with each of us giving attention to the leadings of our own hearts, and continues with a struggle with the deepest sources of violence in illusion and desire. This is as true in politics as it is in personal life. It is important then that we do not give the impression, even to ourselves, that peace can be attained by simply abstaining from certain violent actions. We testify, not to a moral principle that has to be adhered to in each and every situation, but to a process that can lead us into a different way of seeing the world and a different way of living in it. Our testimony should therefore take the form of exhibiting that process in our own lives and actions… It is a witness to what has happened, is happening, and can happen as people open themselves to the truth that is in them.

Those of us who gathered left inspired to keep on keeping on as we journey together in this never-ending process of peace, and we look forward to taking our next steps to deepen and grow this small but beautiful community of creative extremists, as we witness together for peace, love and unity in our often brutally violent world.

If you feel inspired to get more involved in our community, please do get in contact with us. We would love to hear from you!

In peace, love and unity,

Quaker Roots

Human Cost of War – voices from Palestine & Israel

On 11th January 2024, we were privileged to hear directly from Mohammad Tamimi* and Sahar Vardi, peace activists in Palestine and Israel, and Prof Anna Stavrianakis (UK) on the role of the global and UK arms trade in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

A video of the event is now available to view below. Many thanks to QPSW for help with editing.

*Name changed and identity protection filter applied to keep Mohammad safe. Apologies that this means his voice sounds a little strange.

Human Cost of War Jan 2024 from Quaker Roots on Vimeo.


Mohammad Tamimi is part of a local organisation that works to provide critical humanitarian assistance for marginalised Palestinian communities living in areas of the West Bank that are under full Israeli military and civil control (Area C).

Sahar Vardi works for peace & justice and has been imprisoned 3 times as a conscientious objector for refusing to enlist into the Israeli Defence Forces.

Anna Stavrianakis‘ main research interests are the international arms trade, UK arms export policy, international arms transfer control, and militarism and security in North-South perspective.

We are sorry that one of our original speakers Shahd Safi (a journalist and teacher in Gaza) was not able to join us – it was simply too much for her in the current situation. We hold Shahd in the Light and offered some silence during the event in honour of the space that she would have filled.


Thank you for your Witness, Friends

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for all that you’ve done since we’ve been at DSEI.  Whether you joined the witness in person, or upheld us from afar, it has been wonderful to be with you in shining a light on the darkness of the arms trade, and building peace together as a community.

We will take time to reflect on our witness, and what we are called to do for peace, in the coming weeks and months.  In the meantime, here are a few follow-up points:

Post DSEI Debriefsonline on Tues 26th Sept – details below. We’re sorry that due to rail strikes the in-person debrief has been postponed.

Please share your thoughts – see requests for your feedback below.

For those in London the Art the Arms Fair exhibition continues at Gallery 46 in Whitechapel until Sunday. There are also some final protest events happening today (Weds 13th Sept).

Peace Pilgrimage Podcast – you can listen to all the episodes at your leisure.

Media Coverage – Quakers got a mention in the Guardian’s coverage of the arms fair, as well as several independent and faith outlets. There was also an excellent letter written by Quakers to their local paper the Crediton Courier. Why not write about your experiences to local media?

While we take great heart from witnessing together, if you find yourself tired, glum or raging after the exertion and emotions of the last few days, these are perfectly reasonable responses.  Remember to nourish and comfort yourselves, and check-in with those you travelled or buddied with.

Rest well and let’s look forward to a world of love, peace and justice, where no one is illegal – and a world free of arms fairs!

In peace,

The Quaker Roots organising team


We will hold two debrief sessions, one online and one in-person. These will be an opportunity to;

  • Reflect on our witness;
  • Share your thoughts on what went well and what we could learn from in future;
  • Consider our leadings, individually and as Quaker Roots

Online Debrief – Tues 26th September 7pm

Register to receive the Zoom details (if you are not already on our mailing list).

POSTPONED: In-person Debrief

Dear Friends, we’ve heard there is a rail strike taking place this Saturday which means that none of the core group or QPSW staff would be able to get to London. In the light of this we have reluctantly taken the decision to postpone the planned Debrief at Friends House London due this Saturday 30th.
We hope you understand and we apologise for any inconvenience this might cause.

Before taking a decision on re-booking Friends House, we have a couple of questions for you…

  • Would you still like an in-person debrief at Friends House?
  • Would you prefer a further online session on another day?


Share your thoughts

At Quaker Roots we would love to hear your reflections on our witness – thank you to those who have sent reflections already already – hello@quaker-roots.org.uk

QPSW would like also your thoughts on how Quakers in Britain supported us – FaithInAction@quaker.org.uk with any thoughts on the following questions:

  • what QPSW/Quakers in Britain support worked well for you?
  • what QPSW/Quakers in Britain support could be improved?
  • what QPSW/Quakers in Britain support was missing?

Our Friends at NetPol would like to hear about people’s experiences interacting with the police – NetpolAsmin@protonmail.com

Final Events at DSEI

Our friends at Art the Arms Fair and Demilitarise Education are continuing their exhibition We Ain’t dED Yet at Gallery 46, 46 Ashfield Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 2AJ 12-6pm each day until Sunday (17th Sept). This was recommended by a Friend on the way home from the vigil!

If you’re reading this on Wednesday there are also several events still happening today – see the Stop the Arms Fair website for more information.

Peace Pilgrimage Podcast

Thank you for upholding those of us undertaking a peace pilgrimage from Oxford to DSEI. Our experiences were captured in a podcast, alongside interviews with people we encountered on the way. Discussions on the themes of peace include personal experiences of living in conflict zones, the links between peace and climate, offering sanctuary for refugees, and the work of organisations such as the PPU and Rethinking Security. You can listen to all the episodes at your leisure.

Media Coverage

Singing at DSEI

Listen to the songs we will be singing at DSEI.

We’ve chosen simple, well know songs,  but you might find it useful to have a practice beforehand – below are videos of each of the 8 songs to help you.


  1. Dear Friends
  2. Singing for our Lives
  3. We shall overcome
  4. Dona Nobis Pacem
  5. Shalom, My Friend
  6. Vine and Fig Tree
  7. Under the Full Moonlight (Karen Beth)
  8. Mahalia Jackson Down by the Riverside


Dear Friends

Singing for our Lives

We shall overcome

Dona Nobis Pacem

Shalom, My Friend

Vine and Fig Tree

Under the Full Moonlight

Down by the Riverside


British arms used to suppress Bahrain’s struggle for democracy

Sayed from Bahrain offers this analysis of how the UK arms trade is connected to the suppression in his home country.

The Kingdom of Bahrain, where I was born, is a tiny island located in the Persian Gulf. It is ruled by the House of Khalifa, a Sunni royal family that governs with an iron fist over a majority Shia population.

Throughout the five-decade long rule of the monarchy, Bahrain’s population have regularly waged struggles for democracy and human rights and faced violent repression from the ruling regime as a result. Despite the end of British colonial rule formally in 1971, the UK continues to play a pivotal role in supporting the government through political support, military and police training, and arms sales.

2011 pro-democracy protests

In 2011, Bahrain was swept by the largest protests in its history, known as the Arab Spring. Inspired by the pro-democracy protests in Tunisia and Egypt, Bahrain’s citizens took to the streets to demand their rights and call for democracy. The New York Times estimated that around 100,000 people, out of a citizen population of over 500,000, joined the protests. What began as a simple demand for some democratic reforms grew into calls by Bahrainis for an end to the two centuries of the Al-Khalifa monarchy. The streets were filled with slogans of hope, change, freedom, and democracy, with the slogan “The people want the downfall of the regime” reverberating throughout both the country and the Arab world.

This feeling of hope was brutally crushed by the Bahraini government that was determined to hold onto power at all costs. Protestors were arrested, imprisoned and some even killed. I personally experienced this violent repression in 2011 when during the protests, I was tortured by Bahraini authorities.

The sickle-shaped scar on my forehead is a reminder of the days that we lived in hope for freedom and the dreams that were so brutally crushed. After going public with what I had been subjected to, I was arrested and sentenced to six months in prison. We were constantly threatened with torture, even when we stood in corridors outside the courtroom. I was held in Bahrain’s infamous Jau Prison, which today holds over 1,000 political prisoners. The prison is rife with psychological and physical torture, and is meant to break your soul—all this suffering for simply standing up for one’s ideals in Bahrain. After completing my six month sentence, I fled the country, fearing further abuse from Bahraini authorities, and sought refuge in the UK.

Role of UK arms in repression

It breaks my heart that the very country that provided me with asylum and shelter helps fuel repression in the country I was forced to flee and that Bahrainis continue to be subjected to.

The Al-Khalifa’s brutal crackdown on our hopes for a democratic Bahrain was aided and abetted by arms and other equipment exported to the regime from the UK. In 2010, the year before our peaceful uprising, the UK government exported tear gas and crowd control ammunition to Bahrain, both of which were used against protesters in Bahrain and led to fatalities.

In the months following the regime’s violent repression, the UK government approved the sale of over £1m worth of military equipment including licenses for gun silencers, weapons sights, rifles, artillery and components for military training aircraft.

Bahrain is now one of the most repressive countries in the Middle East. Since the uprising, the Al-Khalifa’s have done everything they can to make sure that the events of 2011 do not repeat themselves. They have passed a series of laws restricting freedom of speech and assembly, and misused counter-terrorism laws to target anyone who opposed their despotism. With all opposition parties now outlawed, Bahrain’s elections are a sham, conducted in an atmosphere of repression and fear.

In spite of Bahrain’s worsening rights records, the UK’s cooperation with the country’s dictatorship has only increased, including arms sales. From 2012 to 2022, the UK approved a total of 408 military export licenses, to Bahrain, worth £185m.

Despite the regime’s clampdown on protestors, the government has been unable to solve the political crisis and conditions that led to the 2011 uprisings. As I write this, over 800 prisoners in the notorious Jau Prison are on hunger strike, leading to expressions of concern from the UN and State Department. Bahrainis once again have taken to the streets to express their solidarity with them and question the fact that so many political prisoners remain behind bars simply for expressing their right to freedom of speech over a decade ago.

With unrest stirring, the potential for another uprising continues and my fear remains that it may be once again brutally repressed with weapons provided by the U.K. Government. British politicians and citizens alike should be concerned that arms produced in this country have, and may once again, play a role in strangling the emergence of a Bahraini democracy in its infancy.

Witness at DSEI: Practical Information

As our witness at DSEI approaches, we wanted to put some practical information together in one place.

What to Bring

In 2019, Maya produced this great little zine, to help remind us how to prepare for DSEI practically & spiritually: Things to bring to DSEI

Things to protest with:

  • Banners
  • T-shirts / tote bags
  • Instruments / noise makers (not for the vigil or walk of witness!)
  • Postcards about why we are witnessing (we can provide)

Things to stay comfortable: ( the forecast is for hot weather, so please be prepared.)

  • A hat and appropriate clothing for the weather (loose fitting layers are good)
  • Suncream
  • Water bottle & reusable coffee cup
  • Food (there may be some vegan food available for a donation, but it’s best to also bring a packed lunch)
  • Snacks to share
  • Something to sit on (e.g. foldable stool, cushion)

Things in your head and heart

  • Commitment to non-violence
  • Discernment and support from your Quaker Community
  • Trust in your buddy or affinity group
  • Knowledge of your legal rights
  • Solidarity with people affected by the arms trade


There will be stewards around and an information point to help you know where to go. The Excel site is very large – this map of the Excel gives an indication of where we will be – at the East Gate at No Faith in War on Thurs 7th and near the Western Terrace for the vigil on Mon 11th and the opening day of the arms fair on Tues 12th.

Telegram: on the day (and in the build up) we will be staying in contact via Telegram – a messaging app similar to WhatsApp (but more secure). If you’re already confident with apps, search for Telegram and download (the logo is a paper plane), then get in touch for the links to join:  hello@quaker-roots.org.uk .  If you’re not confident, staff will be around at Friends House, and stewards at the protest site, to give you a hand.

Food: Hot drinks will be available, please bring a reusable cup if you can. We hope that some vegan food will be available (for a donation if you can afford it).  However, it’s worth bringing a packed lunch, or being ready to get something from one of the shops near the Western Terrace.

Toilets There will be at least 2 standard portaloos and 1 accessible mobiloo at the site, perhaps more if funds can be raised.

Food, toilets and welfare / information tents have been organised by Stop the Arms Fair – if you can afford it, please consider donating towards their fundraiser.

Staying safe & well

At the protest site there will be a welfare tent available for No Faith in War on Thurs 7th Sept, and the opening day of the arms fair on Tues 12th Sept (this may still be at the East Gate on the 12th).  You can go there for some quiet space to clear your head, or for a friendly chat.  Members of the welfare team will also be looking out for people around the site and checking you’re OK.

If you want to get away from the protest site completely, the Garden Cafe on nearby Cundy Rd will be open 10am to 2pm.  Space will also be available at Friends House during the day on Thurs 7th, Mon 11th and Tues 12th to meet up with other Friends and have some quiet space.

We recommend having a buddy or buddies – a person or two who you will mutually check-in with and look out for each other.  If you’re travelling alone, come to Friends House to meet up with other Friends, form a small buddy group and travel over to the site together (the walk of witness will be leaving from Friends House too).

Bustcards will be available at the protest site and at Friends House – these have important information about who to call if you are arrested.  It’s worth everyone having one, just in case.  And you can read lots of information about knowing your rights on the Green & Black Cross website – we recommend starting with this guide to the key messages.


The Excel centre is on the Docklands Light Railway ‘Beckton’ line, which connects to central London at Tower Gateway, and to other DLR lines and the Jubilee line at Canning Town. Use the Prince Regent stop for No faith in War on 7th Sept, and Royal Victoria for the Vigil on Mon 11th and the opening day of the arms fair on Tues 12th. You can also take the Elizabeth line (Crossrail) to Custom House, and walk (or ride one DLR stop) to both locations.

If you’re planning to leave any bank cards with your name on behind (to avoid being identified) an Oyster card can be helpful (alternatively you can put tape over your name on a contactless card).

On Saturday 9th September, industrial action will affect Cross Country trains – this operator does not run direct services to/from London, but might affect a connection if you are travelling further that day. Check National Rail Enquiries for updates.


Listed roughly from most expensive to least expensive:

Hotels for the Excel Centre: The Excel is a conference centre, and so there are various chain hotels nearby, which will offer a comfortable room and easy access to the site.  Friends have previously used ‘Premier Inn Docklands’.

Hotels or hostels around London: Access to the Excel is via the Docklands Light Railway ‘Beckton’ line, so there may be cheaper options to stay near stops on the DLR or connecting lines.

Air BnB (or similar ‘holiday lets’) in Newham: In previous years some Friends have stayed in holiday lets in residential areas in Newham (the borough Excel is in), a walk or short DLR journey away. Note that there are ethical implications in using residential properties as holiday lets.

Stay with local Friends or meetings: we are looking to see if it is possible to stay with local Friends and/or on the floor of local meetings, perhaps for a small cost (under £10). If this is something you would be interested in, please get in touch and we see what can be arranged: hello@quaker-roots.org.uk

Camp at the protest site: some activists will be camping at the protest site, especially in the set-up week. You will need to bring your own tent and camping equipment.  Be aware that this is camping in a public area, not a private campsite.

Financial support

We understand that travel and accommodation can be expensive – Quakers have a long tradition of supporting Friends who are witnessing to our testimonies.  If you need financial support, please approach your local and/or area meeting in the first instance.  If you cannot raise sufficient funds from your meeting(s), get in touch with the Quaker Roots team who may be able to direct you towards other grants: hello@quaker-roots.org.uk

Could you help at DSEI?

Many thanks to those who have already indicated that they could help facilitate our witness at DSEI this September.  We wanted to offer a clearer idea of the different roles and what is involved.

For those who like to take in information a bit more visually, there is a summary of the key roles in our Volunteer Jamboard (a simple set of slides).  And if you’d like to chat about any of this, and meet others you might be volunteering alongside, please join our Volunteer Briefing on Tuesday 29th August.

Quaker Roots Roles

Quaker Roots are particularly organising volunteers for the No Faith in War day on Thurs 7th Sept, and the Walk of Witness on Mon 11th Sept. If you would like to help out on other days, we can put you in touch with Stop the Arms Fair who are helping coordinate actions.

Steward / helping at information point

  • Being friendly face as people arrive
  • Let people know when & where things are happening
  • Help Friends join Telegram group to get updates
  • Hand out bustcards, remind people of basic Know Your Rights info, point towards legal observers if needed
  • Have some postcards for members of the public who want to know what’s going on, engage them in conversation about DSEI
  • On Walk of Witness on 11th, help people stick to route, keep up with group

Pastoral friend / welfare

  • Potentially tense environment, people nervous about being there – talk to them, calm them, make them feel at ease
  • Reassurance, give space for people to talk or have some quiet
  • If people need to get away from the protest site altogether the Kitchen Garden café
  • Give out water and snacks, encourage people to check-in with their own needs.
  • If you are a qualified first aider – be on hand


  • Meetings for Worship – 7th Sept 9am, 1pm, 12th time TBC – uphold, explain at beginning, close at end, be aware that we may be continuing to worshipfully uphold people taking action
  • Epilogue 5pm on 7th – plan worship to provide sense of closure to the day (but action is ongoing through the week), can be a bit more programmed
  • General upholding of worshipful approach to protest across the 7th, atmosphere may be tense, secular activists may be unfamiliar with worshipful approach.
  • Uphold & respect other faith groups taking action in their own tradition.
  • On Walk of Witness on 11th uphold silent vigils (approx. 20 mins) at each stop

Creative actions

  • Singing – we have songs we’ve used in previous years, or bring your own. We can programme some times for singing, also can be useful to bring everyone together as led. BYM will organise amplification.
  • Banner making, t-shirts or tote-bag printing
  • If you have a craft you’re particularly into and can show people that’s great, otherwise just facilitate people.
  • Think about what’s needed in advance and liaise with Quaker Roots team to organise
  • Photos, videos or other ways to document the actions, we’ll put you in touch with team

Legal Support Roles

Legal observer

Legal observers are trained volunteers who support the legal rights of activists. They provide basic legal guidance and are independent witnesses of police behaviour at protests. Read more about what being a legal observer involves.

You need to be trained to do this role – if you already are, pease get in touch.  If you’d like to train, Green & Black Cross are running training sessions on 19th & 27th August (you need to attend both, and have already attended a Know Your Rights session). Register to receive the details.

Police Station Support

It is so important that we support arrestees, which includes meeting people at the police station when they’re released. Read more about what Police Station Support involves.

This would be an especially useful role for London-based Friends (you don’t need to have been at the protest to help with this role). Call outs for police station support during the DSEI arms fair protests will happen in a Signal group [sorry to involve another messaging app!]. If you would be willing and able to support in this way, please contact Dixie Wills at Quaker Peace & Social Witness: peace@quaker.org.uk

Briefing for volunteers – Tues 29th Aug 7:00pm

This session will be an opportunity to:

  • Find out more about what these roles involve,
  • Ask questions, and decide what’s right for you,
  • Meet other people who will be volunteering alongside you,
  • Let us know your availability and preferences.

Find out more and register to receive the Zoom details.

Let us know if you would like to volunteer, but can’t make this session – we can send you information on the roles and be in touch about how to get involved. hello@quaker-roots.org.uk

Keeping each other safe around the police

Thinking about how we respond to authority can bring up difficult questions and strong feelings for many of us.

On 1st August, we held a session looking at the three key reasons why we are asked not to talk to the police during our actions, which centre around keeping each other safe:

  • To act consistently and in consensus with other groups taking action;
  • To avoid giving away information to intelligence gatherers;
  • To stand in solidarity with those who are disproportionately targeted by police violence.

Many thanks to those who participated, reflecting and listen to one another in the spirit of Advices and Queries 17:

Do you respect that of God in everyone though it may be expressed in unfamiliar ways or be difficult to discern? Each of us has a particular experience of God and each must find the way to be true to it. When words are strange or disturbing to you, try to sense where they come from and what has nourished the lives of others. Listen patiently and seek the truth which other people’s opinions may contain for you. Avoid hurtful criticism and provocative language. Do not allow the strength of your convictions to betray you into making statements or allegations that are unfair or untrue. Think it possible that you may be mistaken.

Friends gathered in small groups to discuss the question ‘why are we asked not to talk to the police during our actions?’  (And similarly why Quaker Roots and Stop the Arms Fair are not planning to engage the police beforehand). Here are some thoughts that arose:

Acting consistently with others

  • Making sure everyone is on the same page
  • Need to decide the level of risk we’re prepared to take – but not just making a decision on your own behalf – what we say and do affects others
  • Acting together helps strengthen our right to protest

The role of the police

  • Police are constantly information gathering
  • They’ve got a job to do, which is in tension with our right to protest
  • Can we trust the police? Be wary of appearance of friendliness, which may hide an agenda
  • Having these discussions can make us challenge our own compliance
  • Someone from BYM will be available to be a liaison on the day – they will know in advance what they’re going to say and not say


  • Solidarity with others – disproportionately affected by police violence
  • Level of risk is not equal for everyone
  • In particular: people of colour, young men, Muslims, trans people, people with insecure immigration status, are at greater risk
  • Avoid division between ourselves as ‘good’ protesters, and others as ‘bad’ protesters

Helpful approaches we might take:

  • Try not to seek engagement
  • Be polite but step away
  • Use each other’s names less – call each other Friend
  • Use the power of silence
  • Understand the context – might be different to everyday situation
  • Have a degree of suspicion, without letting it change us

Thanks to everyone for their helpful thoughts and challenging questions.  Hannah Brock-Womack wrote a helpful blog ahead of our actions in 2021, which remains a useful reflection on these issues:

Trying to be salt and light: interacting with the police at protests

Know Your Rights

Quaker Roots take our position on interacting with the police in line with Green & Black Cross’ (GBC) key advice for protesting.

  • No Comment
  • No Personal Details
  • Under What Power?
  • No Duty Solicitor
  • No Caution

If you’ve not attended one before, GBC are offering three online Know Your Rights training sessions in August. At Quaker Roots we recommend these sessions for those joining our actions at DSEI, especially if you have questions or are feeling unsure about recent changes to protest law.

Read more and register on the GBC website.

Maintaining Hope

Finally, we ended the session by remembering that the police are not the primary reason we will be witnessing at DSEI.  We recalled the powerful testimony of our speakers at the Human Cost of War event.  And we concluded with some helpful words written by Rebecca Solnit, on the power of hope:

“Hope is not happiness or confidence or inner peace; it’s a commitment to search for possibilities.”