Posts Tagged ‘PCSC’

May Day #KillTheBill

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

May Day 2000

Unfortunately May Day is not a public holiday in the UK, and when I was in full time teaching it was usually just a normal working day for me and I was unable to celebrate it except in those years where it fell at a weekend. Even when I cut my teaching to 30% for a few years, that 30% seemed always to include May Day, and it was only from 2003 that I began to attend May Day in London every year – until 2020, when it went online.

This year, when May Day is on a Saturday, the official May Day celebrations are also taking place online, but May 1st is now a nationwide day of action against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 with which the government is attempting to severely limit the right to protest and in particular to criminalise “noisy” protests and prosecute people in the Gypsy and Roma communities. Noisy protests shaming businesses have been vital in recent years in gaining better wages and conditions for low paid workers particularly in the City of London.

The Bill will give the police much greater powers to place conditions on protest – and to make it a crime to break these conditions if they “ought to have known” they were in place but didn’t. They introduce a new offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance” which can lead to a sentence of up to ten years.

Police also gain greater powers to stop and search on the streets under a new Serious Violence Reduction Order, an arbitrary power that removes even the need for any suspicion and will doubtless lead to an even more racist implementation of stop and search, worse than the old ‘Sus’ law that led to the Brixton riots 40 years ago.

As a knee-jerk reaction to Black Lives Matter protests there is a new offence of causing damage to statues and memorials which could also lead to sentences of ten years, twice the maximum sentence for assault causing actual bodily harm.

The bill also seeks to create a wide “controlled area” around parliament where protests would not be allowed – and so MPs and ministers would no longer be made aware of any public opposition to their actions. Many see the bill as denying our right to freedom of assembly and association under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights .

A long list of organisations are coming to Trafalgar Square at noon today for a MayDay #KillTheBill protest (and to similar protests in Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester.) They include Sisters Uncut, Women’s Strike Assembly, Black Lives Matter UK, Disabled People Against Cuts, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Docs not Cops. With the current large Tory majority in the House of Commons the bill is likely to pass with only minor amendments, and the fight will move to the streets where with strong opposition much of the new law will be unenforceable.

Seconds later an officer knocked this man offering plants flying

Pictures are from 21 years ago, May Day 2000. There are some black and white pictures from the same day on My London Diary.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


What Future for Protest?

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Wednesday 19th March was a busy day in London as it was Budget Day and also the day of the Fracked Future Carnival which had been planned to take place outside a meeting of the Shale Gas Forum in Kensington, and later at the Territorial Army base on Old St where that meeting had moved to in order to avoid the protest. And there was also a a protest calling from the repeal of Uganda’s draconian anti-gay laws.

What all these protests had in common was that they would all have been illegal for various reasons had the current Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill been law. It will seriously restrict the right to hold protests, restrict their length and set noise limits and allow police to enforce restrictions even if protesters have not been told about them.

Public outcry followed the attack by police last Saturday on a peaceful vigil on Clapham Common – where the police had been ordered by the Home Secretary to take action (and she later expressed her concern when she saw the outrage it had caused.) Thousands went to protest the police actions the following day at New Scotland Yard, the Met Police HQ, and later in Parliament Square. And thousands turned up again to Parliament Square on Monday when the PCSC bill was being debated in Parliament.

Protests such as these – even in the absence of Covid – would be clearly illegal under PCSC – and police could shut down even a single person coming to protest. Only protests that are well-behaved, entirely ineffectual and preferably out of sight are likely to be legal.

On March 19th 2014 I began my day at Battersea Bridge, marching across it with designer Vivienne Westwood and around a hundred supporters, mainly her students to the protest against fracking.

Although the Shale Gas Forum had made a last minute change of plans, moving their meeting to a secret location, the rally outside the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in Cadogan Place went ahead as planned -as agreed with the police. There would have been much tighter restrictions under PCSC, and the police could have limited numbers and prevented the use of the public address system.

After several speeches the organises cut the rally short and told those at the protest to take the tube to Old Street station from where they would march to the ‘secret location’, which turned out to be the Territorial Army Centre in the Honourable Artillery Company’s grounds between Bunhill Row and Old St.

We arrived there and the protesters made a great deal of noise outside the gates in Bunhill Row, and then walked through Bunhill Fields to protest outside the Old St Gates.

From Old St I took the tube to Charing Cross and walked the short distance to Trafalgar Square, where the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and Peter Tatchell Foundation were filling the relatively narrow pavement outside Uganda House with a great deal of loud chanting, drumming and dancing calling for an end to anti-gay laws in Uganda.

Later I joined Budget Day protesters around Parliament, and later at a rally called by the People’s Assembly opposite Downing St

Many more pictures on My London Diary:
People’s Assembly Budget Day Protest
Protest over Uganda Gay Hate Laws
Fracked Future Carnival at Shale Gas Forum
Fracked Future Carnival in Knightsbridge
Climate Revolution March to Fracked Future Carnival


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.