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Protest against Armed Forces Day event in Leicester, 23 June 2018

In the latest sign of the army's inability to cope with criticism, an army officer in Leicester called out the police on Saturday (23 June) against a group of local people who were peacefully demonstrating against militarism. Soldiers were inviting children to handle weapons, in violation of local agreements.

Penny Walker of Leicester for Peace/Leicester Against War describes what happened:

This year in Leicester, Armed Forces Day was June 23rd, whereas in most other places it will be June 30th. Those of us concerned about these public displays and the militarisation of young people had received assurances from our City Mayor that children would not be allowed to handle guns at these events, and so a group of us spent two hours in the city centre at the display of weapons and big trucks and recruitment games.

Seventeen of us held a silent vigil facing the army in a long line, some holding the Peace Pledge Union cards which said ‘War is not Family Entertainment.’ Some held a Quaker banner. On a table in the middle a large placard said ‘War Hurts Everybody’. We also had 'beforeyousignup' cards on the table and other information about under-18 recruitment.

Many passers-by thanked us for being there.

Meanwhile we had someone taking photographs of what the armed forces were doing, especially when they allowed children to handle the guns (see picture below). 

An army officer told our photographer he did not like the photography and would ask the police to move him on. The police then came and told him the army were uncomfortable with photographs being taken and the photographer explained he was breaking no laws as this was a public event and he, and many others, were uncomfortable with the army allowing children to handle guns. Would they please pass this on? 

We all dressed in a single colour – pink, grey, blue, purple, green, black and orange to emphasise the ‘everybody’ hurt by war.

We were glad we were there. We will report to the City Mayor.

Army invites children to handle weapons, Leicester 2018

Many thanks to Civic Leicester for the photographs.