Hundreds of protesters joined marches and rallies across Britain on Saturday as part of a “national weekend of action” against a proposed new law that would give police additional powers to curb protests.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would strengthen measures officers can take to disperse protests, such as imposing time and noise limits, which activists and activists fear it will be used to curb dissent.
Since the bill was introduced in Parliament last month, there have been sporadic protests, notably in Bristol, in the south-west of England, where protests have turned violent with police and a police station. police bombarded with bricks and glass bottles and police vehicles set on fire.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticized what he called “shameful attacks” on officers, but protesters accused police of using harsh tactics.
On Saturday, climate change group Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement joined other activists in ‘kill the bill’ rallies in London and other cities, including Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds and Brighton.
“The government is trying to reduce protests – especially BLM and XR – that is the purpose of this bill. We want the sections of this bill on protests to be struck down,” said Mark Duncan, the one of over 500 people marching through central London, beating drums and singing.
Days of protests by Extinction Rebellion brought parts of London to a standstill in early 2019, an action that fueled calls from some politicians for the police to be given more stringent powers to prevent undue disruption.
Protests had not been allowed as long as a coronavirus lockdown was in place, but restrictions were relaxed this week, meaning organized rallies can continue as long as they are “COVID secure”.
In London, police have warned that “coercive action will be taken, if necessary, in the interest of public health.”
Some senior officers said the label “kill Bill” was deliberately provocative, as “Bill” is a nickname in Britain for the police.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by UK Time News staff and is posted Platforms.)