Opposing the “Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021”

Shaz writes about why he is opposing a government bill that would limit our freedom to protest.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021

The government is seeking to enact legislation that I believe will curtail and limit our right to protest, The government are arguing that existing legislation dates back to 1986 and is not fit for purpose in 2021. Like many other issues I strongly disagree with their stance on this bill. I think this is an attempt to curb our right to protest and express our dissatisfaction with those in authority. The bill gives the police more powers to stop protests based on noise or if they disrupt the running of an organisation

Last nights Vigil for Sarah Everard, where the Met Police arrested women for mourning the loss of a woman, allegedly murdered by a Met Police Officer. It is absurd that women, kneeling with flowers, to mourn the loss of a woman, allegedly due to police violence, were met with police violence. Footage from twitter suggests the violence was instigated by the present police officers. If women aren’t safe in this situation? Where can they feel safe? The response from the Head of the Met Police, Cressida Dick’s tone deaf statement in response, saying that the police actions was justified, only exarcerbates the feeling, from many, of ill will towards the police. I attended the Black Lives Matters Protests In Birmingham last year and the police took a more hands off approach and rightly allowed the protests to take place, and they did peacefully.

For me, the most worrying part of the bill is the part where  “The Home Secretary will have the power, through secondary legislation, to define and give examples of “serious disruption to the life of the community” and “serious disruption to the activities of an organisation which are carried out in the vicinity of the procession/assembly/one-person protest”. “

Priti Patel’s comments about previous protests

This would give the Home Sectretary, excessive powers to shut down protests citing the disruption they will cause. Priti Patel has publically criticised Extinction Rebellion, who use direct action to protest at the lack of action to tackle the Climate Emergency, saying that the “Criminals threaten our way of life. We need the likes of Extinction Rebellion to hold the government to account as otherwise the Government will not take the required action needed to avert the worst affects of the Climate Emergency. She’s also described the Black Lives Matter protests as “dreadful” We can see from her statements like these that Priti Patel does not value protest. It is easy to envisage her using these new laws to squash our right to protest. Societal change does not occur by asking for it nicely. It comes from effective campaigning. Protest is a key part of that.

Take Action

The bill is going to be debated on Monday. If like me, you are horrified by this proposed bill, than please sign this petition about it. Write to your MP about it, Labour will be opposing the bill. The Government majority means that it is likely to to pass, but the more outrage there is to the bill, the more likely the government will U turn. The government have U turned on other issues so it could happen here too.

The Featured Image is from a Protest held on International Women’s day 2018 in Basel Switzerland, that I unintentionally attended. 

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