A personal account of Australian activist, Bryan Law, the ‘Peace Preacher’. Learn about his anti-war campaign and its execution.
In July 2011, an Australian Defence Force (ADF) helicopter was seriously damaged by my husband, Bryan Law. Dressed as his alter-identity, the Peace Preacher, Bryan rode a red tricycle across the tarmac, and taking his mattock from a trike basket, he whacked a hole in the attack helicopter, disarming it with a single blow.
The helicopter did not fly for more than three months. And by God, many of us were proud of Bryan. Bryan considered himself in an end of life phase of his activism. He knew heart disease would mean a short life. And his mind always sought escalation. As a peace activist of 30 years, he chose the prophesy of Isaiah – to “turn swords (attack helicopters) into ploughshares”. His act was to transform not only the helicopter, but the psyches of Australians permanently at war. We were 10 years in.
Though the action was not widely noted across Australia, it was significant to those in the small rural city where it occurred. Bryan made sure that the people of Rockhampton, known for their beef and colonial mentality, understood the action even if they disagreed. It was an act of disarmament. They knew it.
He composed and carried out a program of activities, actions and events which enabled the resident police, the city councillors, community leaders and ordinary people to be participants in the lead up and witnesses of the act. At the centre of this organising was a new character: the Peace Preacher.
This campaign applied and experimented with the politics of nonviolence to wage momentum-based conflicts. Furthermore, it laid the ground for any conflict with attention to the web of players and organisations involved.
Bryan Law had been a practitioner of Gandhian nonviolence for 30 years and always held a view toward the transformation of values and relationships.
To learn more about the planning and execution of the campaign, as well as the strategy and principles behind it, read the full account – The Peace Preacher as Anti-War Organiser in Regional Australia (PDF)
- No War Opera House Graffiti Action: An Interview with Dave Burgess
- Project Iceberg: Fremantle’s response to visiting nuclear warships in the 1980s
- Australian women protest conscription during Vietnam War [Save Our Sons (SOS)], 1965-1972
- Thanks But No Tanks: Learnings from Disrupt Land Forces [Brisbane: 2021]
- What can be done? A Rumination
- Activism and Campaign History: Start Here
- Activists - Stories_Accounts about/by Individuals
- Creative activism
- Direct action - Non violent NVDA
- Movements_Campaigns - Anti War
- Movements_Campaigns - Peace