Posts Tagged ‘police state’

Schools Climate Strike

Monday, March 15th, 2021


A bill is currently being introduced into the UK parliament which will severely restrict our ability to protest, giving police new powers to control both static protests and marches. Many of us see it as a major attempt to limit democratic and human rights and a major step in our movement towards a police state. Even the police are worried about some aspects of it. I think there are some aspects which the House of Lords may seek to alter or remove, but given the large Tory majority it seems likely to be passed more or less intact.

The proposals by Home Secretary Priti Patel are widely seen as a knee-jerk right-wing reaction to protests by Extinction Rebellion and the Black Lives Matter movement, and come at a time when Covid restrictions are being widely used by police to prevent protests, even where these seem to present little danger of spreading the virus.

XR promoted a policy of encouraging its supporters to be arrested, and were widely criticised on the left for doing so. In its earlier protests, relatively few of those arrested came to trial and many charges were found to be unlawful – as was the London-wide ban on protests the police later enforced. In later XR protests the Home Office clearly put pressure on police and CPS to ensure that charges were brought and the new bill reflects that much tougher attitude.

We already have a criminal justice system that is failing under extreme pressures, and was even before the extra constraints of Covid. Police are failing to pursue many types of crime and the chances of criminals being caught – always the most effective deterrent – are rapidly falling. In the 12 months up to March 2019, only 7.8% of reported offences in England and Wales led to someone being charged or summonsed – roughly on in every 13 – and unless a crime number is needed for insurance many now think it isn’t worth reporting most crimes. It’s a figure that halved since records were first published only four years previously.

I doubt if this bill will actually have the intended effect of reducing protests, but it will increase the number of arrests and further clog up the justice system – probably leading to the introduction of yet more draconian measures including the loss of civil rights.

Quite how the Old Bill will react in future at protests like the London Schools Climate Strike on Friday 15th March 2019 is a matter for conjecture. If the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill comes into law will they be prepared to undertake mass arrests of minors who refuse to accept direction? Clearly the police (and military) revelled in the freedom and encouragement from Thatcher to wade into the miners, but I hope they will still have sufficient human decency to draw the line when Patel’s orders come to attack children.

Of course what we really need is not to attack climate protesters but to take urgent actions to avoid climate disaster – as the several thousand school students who took part in the Big School Strike for the Future were demanding.

More about the protest at London Schools Climate Strike


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.


Remember, Remember – Nov 5th

Thursday, November 5th, 2020
Nov 5th 2014

As England begins four weeks of partial lockdown I ponder briefly on the significance of the date and the incompetence of our government before looking at some protests in recent years on November 5th.

Nov 5th 2014

Guy Fawkes was it is often said, the only person to enter Parliament with honest intentions, perhaps a slightly harsh judgement on our politicians, but events over the past few years have certainly shown that being honest has not served Jeremy Corbyn well. Although we no longer openly torture prisoners and Corbyn, though clearly put on the rack by the media is unlikely to be actually hung, drawn and quartered – much though some might revel in it – and he is unlikely to have to jump from the scaffold like Fawkes to avoid this excruciatingly gory fate. But the establishment have become no less weak, simply more devious and discrete in protecting their enormous wealth and privileges against all-comers.

And Covid has given the government an excuse to clamp down on protests across the board, though some have still continued. But with various police actions and Acts of Parliament we are clearly moving closer to a police state, with the active support of a failing opposition in Parliament.

Nov 5th 2013

Fawkes was the inspiration behind  the anonymous anti-hero of the graphic novel ‘V For Vendetta’ written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd later made into a film. It shows an England without political or personal freedom caused not by a pandemic but after a devasting war.

Anonymous, a loose internet based movement of hacker activists took on the Guy Fawkes mask from the film as a symbol, uniform and disguise for their activities, in online videos and street protests – ironically greatly benefiting the mask copyright owners Time Warner who get a royalty from every official sale. And one of their main protests in ‘meat life’ is the ‘Million Mask March’ taking place on November 5th every year.

Nov 5th 2014

But Anonymous is not the only Nov 5th game in town. Guy Fawkes celebrations traditionally include bonfires, and in 2014 Class War took their own guy, an effigy of then London Mayor Boris Johnson to their ‘Poor Doors’ protest at One Commercial St in Aldgate. 

Class War’s guy dressed as London Mayor Boris Johnson burns vigorously at the protest at One Commercial St, Aldgate against separate doors for rich and poor residents. Nov 5th 2014

I wasn’t quite clear how Boris got set on fire (my back was possibly deliberately turned at the time as I don’t seem to have any pictures), though it was always inevitable, and he burned merrily but safely in the middle of the wide pavement.

For reasons best known to them, the police went ballistic, calling in first the Fire Brigade, who were clearly not pleased to have been troubled and arrived some time later with just a bucket of water when the fire was already more or less burnt out, and then making the scene a major emergency with police vans, cars and blue flashing lights, before surrounding and arresting Class War’s Jane Nicholl.

Jane is arrested – Nov 5th 2014

The crowd surrounded them and tried to prevent her being taken to the police van, but there were now probably more police then protesters and they managed to force their way through. Another protester was also arrested and taken to a van, I think for being one of the fifty or more who had tried to stop Jane’s arrest.

Surprisingly Jane Nicholl’s case was actually taken to court, but the police were unable to produced any evidence that anyone had been ‘injured, interrupted or endangered’ by the burning Boris – with the prosecution having already admitted that burning effigies on Bonfire night was perfectly lawful and the case – which had already been altered three times to try to find different offences – collapsed. Clearly the police and Crown Prosecution Service were using the arrest and trial simply to harass and intimidate Class War into ending their ‘Poor Doors’ protests. As they did with other arrests on other occasions, none of which led to a conviction.

I don’t know if there will be people trying to take part in a ‘Million Mask March’ in London this year despite the lock-down; the Facebook pages have only small numbers signed up though already well over 6,000 have expressed an interest for Nov 5th 2021. I suspect police will be out in force as in previous years to stop the event taking place. But I’ll certainly be staying at home.


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.


Police impose unlawful ban

Friday, April 17th, 2020
Police remove a man who sat down on the crossing

After a week of protests by Extinction Rebellion in London, the police and their political masters decided they had had enough, and announced a London-wide ban on protests by XR across London, invoking Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986.

A man shows his passport at the police checkpoint on Lambeth Bridge

XR immediately accused the police of abusing the law and denying freedom of speech and questioned the legality of the police ban, beginning a legal challenge. Firstly that Section 14 was intended to allow police to manage protest and not to ban it and secondly that it could not be applied to XR’s ‘Autumn Rebellion’ as this was not a ‘public assembly’ in the terms laid down in the Act.

Police escort a JCB on its way to destroy the XR camp at Vauxhall

The order was imposed on 14 October, but the law works relatively slowly and it was only on 6 November that the High Court made an unequivocal judgement that the Met had acted unlawfully.

A police officer watches as Sian Berry speaks and MEPs Gina Dowding & Molly Scott Cato hold posters

Lord Justice Sedley observed:

“In a free society all must be able to hold and articulate views, especially views with which many disagree. Free speech is a hollow concept if one is only able to express “approved” or majoritarian views. It is the intolerant, the instinctively authoritarian, who shout down or worse suppress views with which they disagree”

It appears to have become standard procedure for police to make up and enforce their own versions of the law and to make arrests, often with no real possibility of any charge ever being brought. Sometimes their intent is clearly to impose bail conditions to restrict people’s activity for prolonged periods of time, and at times it simply seems a form of harassment, holding people for perhaps ten or twelve hours before releasing them in the middle of the night miles from their homes often without proper clothing and their possessions retained as ‘evidence’.

I hope the hundreds of protesters arrested for breach of this unlawful ban are pursuing their claims for false imprisonment, which could cost the Met millions, though of course that only means us taxpayers picking up the bill for the Bill.

XR protesters came to defy the ban on protests

After a slow start to the XR ‘No Food No Future‘ protest outside MI5 on Millbank where police restricted the movements of many not involved in the protest as well as searching activists and making an arrest I left to photograph a protest by politicians, mainly from the Green Party against the unreasonable ban on protest and freedom of speech. Although there were several hundred people in the square defying the ban, police made no arrests, perhaps because of the involvement of a number of MEPs and other politicians.

Protest defends freedom of speech
XR No Food No Future protest


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.