The recent news that TIME magazine has named ‘The Protestor’ their personality of the year for 2011 brought back memories of December 1987. In that year, the readers of London’s erstwhile radical listings magazine, City Limits, voted the Non-Stop Picket of the South African Embassy their ‘Demo of the Year’.
While the number of people who actually participated regularly in the Picket was always relatively small, this award demonstrates the degree to which the Non-Stop Picket captured the imagination of a wider population. By December 1987, the Picket had stood on the pavement in Trafalgar Square, outside the South African embassy for twenty months. Thousands of people passed it everyday and the image of the Picket clearly resonated with far more Londoners than ever participated in it. In some small way, the award from the readership of City Limits was recognition of this.
City Group, of course, couldn’t let this award pass without capitalizing on the opportunity for further media coverage. They arranged for the former South African political prisoner, David Kitson, to be photographed on the Picket handing over the award to the protestors there.
Winter on the Picket could be harsh and each winter seemed to get harder. Good news stories, like this award, were always welcome at this time of year to boost morale and encourage City Group’s members to continue physically supporting the Picket with their presence.