A Day of Marches & Demonstrations

Librarian Louise Birch uses photographs from the Leodis archive to remember events that took place 50 years ago today.

Yorkshire Evening Post, February 4 1972, p.4

5th February 1972 was a day of marches and demonstrations in the city of Leeds.  Using images from the Leodis website we will take a look at the marches and their causes.

Over 500 people took part in a ‘silent protest’ march in solidarity with the Irish people, in the aftermath of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ killings of the 30th of January 1972.  Thirteen men lost their lives, and another man died several months later from his injuries after soldiers of the British Army opened fire during a protest march by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in the Bogside area of Derry. The incident had since been the subject of multiple inquiries.

the Leeds march was organised by the Northern Ireland Steering Committee and stretched the length of Vicar Lane, then marching along Boar Lane in the direction of City Square, before finally gathering at the Garden of Remembrance. Attending the march were representatives of Trade Unions, Irish organisations, political parties, the Leeds branch of Clann Na hEireann, the Campaign for Social Justice, the International Socialists, and members of the Gay Liberation Front. Many students also joined, and police were present for the duration of the march.

Banners on display show the word ‘Stormont’ (The Northern Irish Parliament) written in large letters and covered with ‘bloodstains’.

A ‘Yorkshire Irish solidarity Campaign’ banner was visible along with a ‘Civil Rights for N.I. sign’

In the above image a protest banner leans against the wall reading ‘Give Zimbabwe to Her People’ as in that year guerrilla warfare against white rule and the fight for independence had escalated.

The image above shows two paper sellers in Leeds City centre engaged in a conversation. The man on the left is selling copies of the Morning Star, a left-wing tabloid newspaper which, until 1966, was known as ‘The Daily Worker’. As seen here, the Morning Star was in support of the National Union of Mineworkers during the strikes of the 1970s and 80s. The board strung around the young man’s neck states ‘Back the Miners Says the Morning Star’. At the time the photograph was taken the miners were part way through a seven-week strike for better pay.  On the 9th of February 1972, the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, imposed a state of emergency and a three-day week due to shortage of coal to fuel the power stations. The miners’ strike lasted from the 9th of January until the 28th of February 1972.   The other man is selling copies of ‘Ireland’.

Leeds citizens have continued to express their right to protest with demonstrations relating to ‘Climate Change’, ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘COP 26’, ‘Reclaim the Night’ and ‘Kill the Bill’ taking place in the last few years.  We will be adding photographs of events to Leodis to continue the representation of protests in our city.

Yorkshire Evening Post, February 5, 1972, p.1

All photographs donated to the Leodis Archive by C.E.Shaw.

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