Global debt and climate protesters this week decided to use the famous Black Sabbath ‘heavy metal’ bench on Birmingham's golden mile of Broad Street to highlight their campaign. The activists placed placards around the necks of the metallic images of Geezer Butler and Bill Ward, with the latter reading ‘G7: TURN DEBT INTO CLIMATE ACTION’.
The placards were quickly removed by alert staff from Westside BID, although the peaceful protest was acknowledged as “democratic” and campaigners were thanked for not causing any damage to the bench. The campaigners, who regularly use the hashtag #debtforclimate on social media, want developed nations in the west to cancel the debts of so-called third world countries.
Their approach considers ‘climate debt’ to be a debt owed to developing countries for the global damage caused by developed countries’ disproportionately large contribution to climate change. The protests came as this year’s G7 summit of world leaders met at Schloss Elmau, an historic building near Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps in Germany.
Mike Olley, general manager of Westside BID, said: “We fully appreciate that the nature of the protest was careful not to cause any damage. However, as custodians of the Black Sabbath bench we had to remove the protest placards.
“The irony is that Black Sabbath themselves were initially a protest band … as a group of proud, working class blokes, they got annoyed by the ‘hippie’ culture of peace and love and felt they had to project a more raw and realistic aspect of life – hence heavy metal. But seriously, if you look carefully at some of Black Sabbath’s song lyrics, you can see that they were deeply mistrustful of world leaders, for instance in their War Pigs song.”
War Pigs starts with the following lyrics:
Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
And then continues:
Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that all to the poor, yeah
Mr Olley added: “Here on Westside we want people to take care of the Black Sabbath bench but, at the same time, we will always welcome democratic, peaceful protests.”