Tory ‘democracy’ defends statues – not us!
Kill the bill – not the right to protest!
The Government has introduced the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to Parliament, but the third and final reading has been delayed because of widespread protests.
The proposals include:
• Allowing the police to impose a start and finish time and set noise limits on protests. Protestors would also need to be given permission in advance, and police could ban gatherings that don’t “sufficiently” meet conditions to prevent “serious public disorder”.
• Rules applying even when only one person is demonstrating. So if a person was holding a placard and shouting into a speaker if they refused to follow police instructions, they could be fined up to £2,500.
• The offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance”, designed to stop people from occupying public spaces and employing other protest tactics such as chaining themselves to a lamp post.
• Damage to memorials could result in up to 10 years in prison.
• Increased police power to threaten, intimidate and use violence against Gypsy and Traveller communities and permit them to seize their property (which includes homes).
• Increased stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities.
The bill is a significant threat to the right to organise pickets and strike protests. It is a threat to all workers and social struggle protests and actions.
Protests take to the streets
Since Sarah Everard’s vigil (allegedly killed by a senior policeman), there has been a wave of protests throughout the UK against the policing bill, police brutality, the carceral state, misogyny and racism, and to demand the right to protest for all. These have taken place with social distancing and masks.
The police ‘safeguarded’ Sarah Everard’s vigils by forming human barriers and then pushing the protestors, mainly women, closer together. Millions of people looked on in horror as the TV news showed police officers forcefully arresting women at such vigils.
In many demonstrations opposed to violence against women and then the Tory bill the police used threats of arrest, arrests and fines. But the movement continued to spread and mobilise. In March and April, there were demonstrations in many cities against the Bill.
More than 60 MPs and Lords had written to the home secretary calling for a change in Covid-19 legislation to allow protests to happen during the lockdown. Their letter says, “The police have no legal certainty as to their duties and powers, protestors have no legal certainty as to their rights, and there is inconsistent application of the Regulations across the country. This cannot continue”.
But Sam Grant from Liberty said,
“Last week, the police conceded protest is not banned under the lockdown regulations but used them to threaten then arrest demonstrators anyway.”
Policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent
A coalition of groups has come together to oppose the Bill. Sisters Uncut have led the fight against the bill and in women’s demonstrations. As they say, events have shown that protest works.
“That’s why they want to ban it, and that’s why we’re fighting back. The coalition that is coming together shows that many people are angry about the brutal reality of policing in this country and who are determined to fight this dangerous extension of state power. Policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent. Targets of police repression – working class people, racial minorities, sex workers and many others – have had enough.”
When Johnson and the establishment talk of democracy, they mean bourgeois democracy and the rule of their law. When people protest, that could damage their control. They react by killing people’s democracy.
They want to put an end to mass demonstrations like Extinction Rebellion and Black Lives Matter. The Tories know that anger is building against their policies on Covid-19 that led to so many unnecessary deaths in care homes and amongst older adults, frontline workers, Black and ethnic minorities and disabled people.
Women and youth, workers and unions that organise strikes, all those opposed to violence against women and black people show they can fight. That is what the government fears because, in many cases, the struggles are not controlled by the Labour Party or by the TUC.
Trade Union leaders pose no action
Union leaders will make Zoom speeches, condemn the Tory bill in words, and then go quiet.
The ‘leaders’ of the TUC and the big unions are not organising a fight against the Bill. Just as they accepted the anti-trade union laws, they will meekly accept new impositions against the democratic right to protest unless challenged.
We say workers must act now to stop the Bill, take this discussion into every workplace, explain how it is a major attack on your right to organise. Kill the Bill! We have the power to do that if we unite the resistance.
The Tories know that anger is building against their policies on Covid-19. And are driving a fury amongst youth and women. The Tories know these mobilisations, if they grow, can win against their policies and laws. That is why fines as hefty as £10,000 have started and why the government instructs the police to attack.
Drop the charges! Drop the fines!
Defend our democracy on the streets!
We say kill the Bill -not the right to protest!