Image: BBC

In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on the 30th of January, 1972, 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators were shot dead by British Army paratroopers in an event known as “Bloody Sunday.” The protesters were marching in protest to the British government’s policy of interning suspected members of the IRA without trial. British authorities had ordered the march banned, and sent troops to confront the demonstrators when it went ahead. Bloody Sunday began as a peaceful, but illegal demonstration. However, some protestors confronted the soldiers, pelting them with stones and other projectiles. Ordered to arrest as many demonstrators as possible, the army proceeded to confront the marchers, and violence erupted.

The soldiers fired indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters, killing 13 and wounding 17. The killings brought worldwide attention to the crisis in Northern Ireland and sparked protests all across Ireland. In Dublin, the capital of independent Ireland, outraged Irish citizens lit the British embassy aflame on February 2.

Bloody Sunday precipitated an upsurge in support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which advocated violence against the United Kingdom to force it to withdraw from Northern Ireland. The incident remained a source of controversy for decades, with competing accounts of the events.

“You cannot be afraid to speak up and speak out for what you believe. You have to have courage, raw courage.”

-John Lewis