By Coco Shellim
This half term has got off to a wonderful start. We have all left to Sri Lanka for my sister’s wedding and being around all my family and friends who I haven’t seen in a long time has given me some much needed recharging. I arrived on the plane for a ten hour flight and was searching through all the movies before take off planning which ones to watch. The screen turned off for take off and never turned back on.
The man sitting next to me watched me hopelessly press all the buttons to no avail, and heard the flight attendant confirm to me, that it was indeed dead. He very kindly offered to swap seats with me as he wasn’t interested in watching TV. We got chatting and I found out he had published a book last year — the very book that was packed in my suitcase!
I was sitting next to Steve Crashaw. The author of Street Spirit: The power of protest and mischief. The book had been recommended to us earlier that year in a masterclass. Steve was on his way to Sri Lanka to speak with the government on behalf of the company he works for; freedom from torture.
I’ve now had a chance to read most of the book and it is a fascinating read. It shows extraordinary accomplishments from people resisting tyrannical governments or unfair treatment, all through creative and peaceful ways. The book has beautiful photographs alongside short, readable anecdotes. The stories prove that sometimes, even the smallest acts of standing up, often in the form of taking the piss, can be a gateway for revolution. Many of the stories have a similar message; If you manage to make the authorities look foolish, then you’ve won. It demonstrates that more often than not, violent ruling is much more scared of non-violent confrontation than violent. It’s promising to see the power of peaceful protest, outweighs violent conflict on so many occasions.
I wanted to end this SCAB with my favourite story from the book:
This took place in Kiev, Ukraine in 2013. The riot police, heavily armed, were lined in the central square. They were permitted to use unlimited violence against the protesters but the Ukranian protesters had come up with a genius and bloodless strategy. The women held mirrors up, forcing the riot police to be confronted with their own aggressive image in the reflection. After violent clashes, many police actually defected to the protesters side. Steve writes ‘It seems they had looked in the mirror and did not like what they saw.’ In the end, the police defectors were the final straw for Yanukovich (the repressive president) and he fled the country.
The copy scores 66.8 in the Flesch Reading Ease test