Why I organized 30,000 strong Jill Meagher march in Melbourne, Australia
Death of young Irish immigrant sparked an incredible response among ordinary people
I’ve suddenly been thrust into the media limelight for having organised the Peace March attended by 30,000 people for Jill Meagher, the Irish emigrant who was raped and murdered on her way home after an evening out in Melbourne.
The response was beyond all expectations and I have since been receiving supportive and kind words from many friends and random strangers, people who all believe in the message of peace, hope and non-violence.
I figure I might as well use this space to tell my story, perhaps it's all related.
To be perfectly honest, when the images first started going round on Facebook about Jill Meagher’s disappearance, I took little notice. I guess it was care fatigue mixed with a question of why random strangers suddenly care about her disappearance rather than the many other victims of crime.
However, early on Friday morning when I saw the news that her body had been found, the physical violence of what was done to her really struck me and I felt deeply, deeply sad.
But first some background:
Violence against women is an issue that affected me for a long time. I built the website for Sisters For Sisters as a donation to this loose collective who organise events to raise money for women's charities. A close friend runs The Art 2 Healing Project, a charity that works to heal the wounds of sex trafficking, and helped organise her fundraiser Celebrating Woman. I have signed up to White Ribbon and One Billion Rising, two campaigns specifically to end violence against women and girls and I am hoping to run a V-day event in February.
I guess all that background contributed to my decision to take action.
I decided that a peace march was in order in to show a quiet, peaceful defiance against fear, hate, and violence etc. To show that, as a society, we believe more in peace, love, forgiveness, hope and solidarity than their opposites. So, I made this poster straight away and sent it around to a few news organisations. I chose to call it a "peace march" very consciously.
I figured something would need to be done quickly to catch the spirit of the day and make a strong case for peace and love to counter any messages of hate. That evening (Friday) I also went to the candlelight vigil and handed the flier to a few news crews and stuck the poster up on a few power poles.
I was nervous about whether I was doing the right thing though, because I had gone to the police earlier and of course they spoke of all the (valid) concerns they had, including consulting with the family (which I hadn't done) and whether it was appropriate for another poster with her photo to go up in the neighborhood. Was I doing the right thing? I was suddenly not so sure. But I had already sent it out and the media knew about it as did some Facebook friends, so I had no real choice but to ride it out and see what happens.
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Many thanks for sharing your story, handsome68. It's good to be able to hear about others' experience as life isn't long enough to learn everything we