The protest against the Police and Crime bill in Aberystwyth drew on the history of resistance in the area and what protest has achieved, writes Jan Culley
300 protesters quietly gathered just a few minutes away from the Trefechan Bridge in Aberystwyth yesterday.
In 1963 the bridge became famous as the site of the first protest, attended by just 70 people, that saved Welsh from extinction. The process of recognition of this working class language began just one year after the protest.
Acknowledgement of the power of protest, as exemplified by Trefechan, was strongly expressed by Kill The Bill speakers and gained enthusiastic acknowledgement from protesters. Numerous examples of how protest has significantly impacted on ordinary lives were heard as were warnings about the furtherance of police powers. The message was, what we have today has been won because of protest, improvement through philanthropy is mythical.
Speakers from the People’s Assembly, Acorn, the renters’ union, XR, a local councillor and campaigners from the Labour Party presciently built on points concerning the erosion of democracy and hard won rights.
The cornerstone of the bill is that police will choose when, where and how protest may take place. Discriminatory stop and search powers will be enhanced, criminalisation of citizens - and especially of the Traveller community - will increase and democracy be further reduced.
A list of recently publicised activity by individual police officers relating to links with neo-Nazism, misogynistic actions and perpetration of violence underlined the point that such devolvement of power is dangerous. The need for protection through resistance is not going away.
Fyddan nhw ddim yn pasio, resounded firmly in mid-Wales.
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