Protesters have rallied in main London and dozens of other cities in England and Wales versus a criminal activity costs that critics state will enforce extreme restrictions on the right to demonstration.
There were scuffles between police and protesters in Parliament Square on Saturday afternoon after thousands marched in opposition to the expense from Hyde Park, culminating in over 20 arrests. Protesters had rallied outside parliament to hear speeches against the cops, criminal offense, sentencing and courts costs, then obstructed the roadway.
The police, criminal activity, sentencing and courts bill, which passed its 2nd reading in parliament last month, will modify existing public order legislation to make it much easier for cops to prohibit or close down peaceful protests if they are thought about too disruptive or likely to cause disorder.
Opponents of the costs have called it an attack on the right to demonstration and an action towards authoritarianism. They alert that in combination with new laws providing agents of the state licence to devote crimes while undercover and changes to the judicial system, the balance of power is being tipped towards the authorities, wearing down individual freedoms.
Speaking to the crowd at Parliament Square, Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the Labour celebration, said it was demonstration that was accountable for the fundamental rights people enjoy today. He said: “I wish to live in a world of peace and justice, I wish to live in a world of human rights and democracy, and I’m ready to make people feel unpleasant in the process.”
Zarah Sultana, the Labour MP, said: “Power is with us, it’s with you, it’s with everybody … I understand that because now I remain in the so-called passages of power, and they are scared of what we can attain in the streets, they are so afraid.”
In Bristol, more than 1,000 individuals gathered for the fifth Kill the Costs presentation in the city centre in the previous two weeks. Avon and Somerset cops said that about 500 protesters stayed by the cenotaph in Bristol following completion of a tranquil march.
Somewhere else outside London, demonstrations rallying under the slogan “Eliminate the bill” were expected in Aberystwyth, Bath, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Cardiff, Derby, Exeter, Folkestone, Kendal, Lancaster, Lincoln, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth and Portsmouth.
The current demonstrations followed authorities in Bristol were condemned for crackdowns on 3 demonstrations against the expense last month, with officers in riot gear and dogs sent out in to clear the streets three times in the city in the area of a week.
Covid policies have given that been relaxed and demonstrations are now lawful in England and Wales, providing protest organisers make a risk assessment and take actions to limit the possible transmission of coronavirus.
In London, thousands of protesters rallied at Speakers’ Corner from midday onwards before marching down Park Lane, towards Westminster. Marching to the beat of a samba band, crowds shouted: “Eliminate the bill” and “The UK is not innocent.”
The Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy was among the speakers who addressed the crowd in the park. She said: “The cops, criminal offense, sentencing and courts bill should come as no surprise: it’s part of an authoritarian drive from this federal government. We can see it in whatever they have actually been doing just recently, from voter ID registration to anti-union laws and now anti-protest laws. They want to remove away our hard-fought, hard-won democratic rights and we should stop them.”
Other speakers included the Labour MPs Apsana Begum, Clive Lewis and Zarah Sultana, and the civil rights campaigners Peter Tatchell and Lee Jasper.
Agents of All Black Lives, International Majority, Termination Rebellion, and the Gypsy, Roma and Tourist communities were likewise anticipated to speak.
Among those protesting was one male dressed as the Grim Reaper, who declined to offer his name. He said: “I’m here impersonated the Grim Reaper to mourn what is in result the death of democracy … We require to stop this costs going through because it’s a total disintegration of our civil liberties.”
After a lot of protesters left Parliament Square, police surrounded a small group that remained and started making arrests, prior to purchasing them out of the location. A fast-paced march up Whitehall followed, stopping briefly for a while at Trafalgar Square where more arrests were made, with cops moving in squads to snatch people. Numerous people said they had been pepper-sprayed by officers in the fracas.
A number of hundred protesters then marched up the Strand and eventually a large group was trapped by numerous hundred officers in riot equipment at Aldwych. Right before 9pm, police said they had made 26 arrests related to the demonstration on suspicion of offences including attack on cops, breach of the peace and ownership of an offending weapon. Ten officers had been injured, none seriously, the Met said.
Attending to the reasons for the protest in a video published on Twitter on Friday, Corbyn said: “The right to demonstration is valuable. Oppose motions make history, from the eight-hour working day, to the choose ladies, to the right for equivalent pay, the rights we take for approved had to be won through protest. We took them; they weren’t handed to us by the abundant and powerful.
“From opposing apartheid to the Iraq war, I’m happy to have actually protested versus oppression and safeguarded the right to itself. That right, which offers a voice to those frequently unheard, is when again under threat from a harmful expense which successfully criminalises peaceful demonstration.”