Thousands marched in towns and cities across the country on Saturday in opposition to the Police and Crime bill. Counterfire reports from a number of the protests
London - Cici Washburn
Today we marched in our thousands to #KillTheBill.
From Hyde Park to Parliament Square a very lively and energetic protest carried placards displaying slogans against police brutality; against racism towards black people and traveller communities and against women’s oppression.
Chants of "Black Lives Matter"; "kill the bill"; "no justice no peace"; "no racist police"; "Tory scum" and "all cops are bastards" reverberated throughout the demo.
At Parliament Square Jeremy Corbyn received great applause as he expressed the need to extend our solidarity with the people in Myanmar and the urgent need to stand up in defence of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. He said: ‘if you don’t protest, things don’t change’.
Cambridge - Morgan Daniels
More than 200 protestors gathered on Parker's Piece this afternoon in opposition to the proposed police bill. Speakers took to an open mic opposite Parkside Police Station to address a crowd that was young, energetic, and carried a strong union presence. Several activists highlighted the impact that the bill will have on the travelling community.
Sheffield - Mike McCarthy
The City of Sheffield has a proud history of mass dissent that can be traced back to the Chartists in the 1830’s. Today the City turned out in force again to fight back against the Government’s authoritarian plan to curtail their democratic right to protest.
Over 1,000 trade unionists and residents from across the city marched through the city centre to highlight the danger to democracy posed by ‘Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’. Speakers from Black Lives Matter, Take the Knee, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and Women’s Aid were among the speakers who inspired the crowd and emphasised the need to work together in the coming months to ‘Kill the Bill’.
The march set off to cries of “Whose streets? Our streets” and “This is what democracy looks like”. It stopped outside Sheffield Police HQ where the knee was taken by all on the march, and a powerful minute’s silence was held to remember the men and women who have lost their lives at the hands of police across the world.
Oxford - Mic Dixon
500 - 1000 people joined the Kill the Bill protest in Oxford City's Bonn Square. Oxford Climate and Justice Campaign, Oxford Stand up to Racism, IWW and Oxford Marxists joined with other diverse campaign groups from the City to mount the inspiring, loud and informative protest for protest. Representatives of the campaigns spoke for over an hour covering virtually all of the issues that we know will not be addressed without protest - from racism and sexism to mental health, disabilities, Yemen, Palestine and the worst ever Labour leader - take a guess! The message throughout making it clear that this Bill affects us all and must be opposed.
Luton - Luton Counterfire
Sixty activists took to the streets today to show their contempt for the Tories’ draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The march began at the city centre and finished at Luton’s main police station for speeches.
Luton has a rich tradition of fighting police oppression.
“Protest rights are human rights” was the most popular chant and the protest was reflective of the wide-ranging anger felt by large parts of post-pandemic UK.
Speakers on Saturday included historian Louise Raw and TSSA executive member Dave Barnes.
Legal observer Attiq Malik commented: “This is a great start for Luton and shows that this campaign can become a focal point for a range of groups within the community.”
Luton TUC’s Mark Dee Smith added: “The Tories have got a fight on their hands, and not just on this issue. On the strength of today, Lutonians are looking forward to getting stuck in."
Exeter - Peter Stevenson
One hundred and fifty people gathered in Bedford Square, Exeter to roundly condemn the bill to restrict and ban public protests. Trade unionists, anti-nuclear, anti-war, and environmental campaigners and travellers spoke of the need to take to the streets to uphold a basic symbol of democracy - the right to protest.
Inspired by the anti-poll tax action of 1990, speakers called to continue the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, to support gender equality campaigns to ensure women are safe on our streets and to rage at the injustice of the super-rich hiding their billions in secret offshore accounts. The police kept away as all present pledged to keep up the pressure on the government to kill the bill.
Taunton - Dean Thomas
I arrived at the protest shortly after 12pm and there was a good crowd of mixed ages holding placards and chanting "Kill the bill" and "This is what democracy looks like ". It was very well organised with 2 metre social distancing being strictly adhered to along with wearing masks and hand sanitiser available to use.
It was very peaceful and good humoured with support from passing motorists honking their horns. The only police presence was two young female officers who stood about 25 yards away. There were around 50 people at the protest group when I left, but more people were showing interest and joining then. Not bad for Taunton, Somerset which is a Tory stronghold.
Waltham Forest, London - Carole Vincent
Glasgow - David Szabo
While the protest was quite small about 60-80 people, we were loud and made our voices heard. Fellow socialists gave speeches about how important our right to protest and organise is in order to have our voices heard and make a change. Moreover, there were also speeches denouncing capitalism and the Tories stating that these factors created the hostile environment we now have. We then began marching up and down Buchanan street at 13:50 picking up more people as we marched back and forth with more police appearing.
Newcastle - David McAllister
Hundreds gathered at the Monument in the centre of Newcastle to defend the right to protest, organised and supported by a number of local groups including Resist NCL, Stand Up To Racism, North East People’s Assembly, Acorn, Newcastle Unites and North East Against Racism.
Following some songs from local musician Lauren Stones, the rally brought together numerous fronts of struggle, all of which have a stake in defending the right to protest. Speaking for People’s Assembly, I called upon everyone to build resistance to the employers’ offensive against workers through public sector pay freezes and ‘fire and rehire’. Caitlin Southern spoke for Newcastle Unites about the importance of protest in taking on the far right in Newcastle. She also spoke in support of refugees as well as attacking the ridiculous notion that there is ‘no institutional racism’.
The rally then became a march. Reassembling at the Civic Centre, a minutes’ silence was observed for Sarah Everard and all victims of sexist violence. An open mic enabled attendees, mainly young and female, to take the platform to describe the endemic violence against women and the need to keep protesting against it. Other speakers described the shocking levels of class and race inequality in society.
The best way to defend the right to protest is to keep protesting. The signs were there today that people are drawing together a number of issues we need to fight over into a common struggle.
Ipswich - Ben Goddard
Kill the Bill Ipswich managed to rally 30 to 50 people in the town square, the Cornhill. There were speakers from Unite the Union, Burning Pink, People’s Assembly, the Communist Party of Great Britain, women and LGBT activists. After the speeches concluded, a march was called and we collectively made our presence known through out the town centre.
Individual police members made attempts to confront our march, but were widely ignored when protesters walked past and continued to chant “Kill the Bill”, “Who’s Streets – Our Streets”, “We will not be silenced” and “Defend the right to protest”.
In a statement, Kill the Bill Ipswich said: ‘It’s safe to say Ipswich will not tolerate this draconian Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. Today’s demonstration has proved to us that many different organisations and individuals are willing to come together in solidarity against this Bill.’
Cardiff - Kevin Potter
The Cardiff Kill the Bill protest was quite lively with over a hundred people. Large Black Lives matter presence, and very youthful, with much anger directed at the police. Lovely weather too. There also seemed to be a separate traveller event happening in the city, which had horse drawn traps riding round the streets, and it brought the opposition to the anti-traveller aspect of the Bill in sharp focus.
Brighton - Liv Singh
For the fourth weekend in a row crowds were on the streets of Brighton protesting against the government’s police bill seeking to curtail the right to protest. This is a spontaneous grassroots movement of predominantly young people. Today’s march, of 1 to 2,000, meandered through the streets of Brighton stopping at the police station and road intersections, at the pier and the clock tower to sit in the road and hold up traffic. It was a lively protest with full throated chanting accompanied by a band of drummers.
Liverpool - Madeline Heneghan
Over 300 people gathered in Church Street in Liverpool City centre as part of the nationwide Kill the Bill protests. As we marched to the Anglican cathedral, numbers grew. There was no shortage of speakers stepping up to the open mic. One guy on a bike gave an impassioned speech calling for unity in the face of Tory attacks and attempts to divide us. A veteran activist said that this was a battle that we can’t afford to lose and that the right to protest is under threat precisly because protest works. The mood was upbeat with clear signs that Kill the Bill protests will grow across the city region.
Truro - Adrian Cooley
A crowd of around 200 mainly young, majority female protesters made their voices heard at a Kill the Bill demo at Lemon Quay in Truro, Cornwall today. The crowd seemed to be a real mix of political orientations i.e. Anarchists, Socialist Party and TUSC, and Labour people.
The protest was watched on by 2 police officers one of whom was filming the crowd and the speakers. Revolutionary slogans received a lot of applause from a largely radical crowd. The first speaker made some excellent points about how the protests organised in neighbouring Falmouth and Truro were entirely peaceful, just like Bristol protests, and the only difference between the Cornwall and Bristol protests was the attitude of the police who attacked sit down actions in Bristol with riot shields. The problem was not with the protesters but the police.
Another speaker made the case that the fight and protest against the upcoming G7 summit to be held in Carbis Bay in Cornwall would be severely hampered by the bill:
“The G7 is a summit organised by the 7 richest companies to coordinate profit making at the expense of global south. The G7 summit is very close to a council estate where one third of households struggle to feed their children. Cornwall should not be a county for wealthy Tory Councillors and second home owners where tourism wages are so low and affordable housing waiting lists so high”
Manchester - James Wood
Protests against the Police and Crime Bill have continued in Manchester today. Speakers expressed contempt and disgust at recent police violence against demonstrators as well as the importance of defending political protest against modern day issues we currently face such as climate change, institutional racism and police brutality. Chants of “ACAB” were often repeated and the frustrations against the Greater Manchester Police and their excessive use of violent force in previous anti-Bill demonstrations was made loud and clear. Chants of “This is democracy” were also delivered as a reminder of how protesting is an essential and fundamental element of democratic society.
Aberystwyth - Jan Culley
Around 300 people assembled in Aberystwyth to oppose the police and crime bill. There were great speeches from a range of speakers that stressed the importance of defending our democratic right to protest.
York - Norbert Lawrie
There was a well attended Kill the Bill protest in York today which ended with a march around the city on a lovely sunny afternoon.
Bath - Johanna Everritt
At 2pm there was a small group who convened at the Abbey in the centre of Bath. It was a more mature crowd than that seen at the previous Bath turnout, probably due to the fact that many of the students had returned home for the Easter break. The crowd grew to approximately 80 – 100 protesters with 12 police officers present. At about 2.20pm, the group set off to march around the city, chanting “This is what democracy looks like”. There was a jovial and upbeat atmosphere and onlookers seemed to enjoy the rare spectacle of objection in the usually sedate city of Bath.
There was a decidedly heavy police presence given that the Tory council sold the police station in 2015. The police were explicit with regard to direction of flow of the protest and when a few protestors moved onto the ‘wrong side’ of the road, they were immediately informed and in no uncertain terms, that they would be given 5 minutes to ‘alter their position.’ There was no indication what would occur after 5 minutes, but clearly movement of traffic in Bath was a priority.
Bristol - Johanna Everritt
There was intially a markedly smaller crowd in Bristol this Saturday compared to Sunday 20th, though there was an equally jovial atmosphere. There was representation from socialist groups, XR, travellers, the boating community and a broad range of ages. Having set off to march, the crowd grew considerably and there was a significant swell in energy. There was an exceptionally good atmosphere and despite a heavy presence, the police remained in the background. Drumming, chanting and dancing kept everyone in good spirits and when I left at 6pm there had been no disturbances as far as I was aware.
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