The #PoliceCrackdownBill will only enable more violence against the vulnerable
Here’s how you can stop it from becoming law.
Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images.
Under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the UK government has proposed a destructive and counterintuitive solution to a deeply-set problem. Sponsored by none other than Priti Patel’s craven Home Office, the new regulations aim to restrict the essential right to gather in protest against institutional injustice, and give increased powers to police forces -- state workers who are already known to abuse said powers.
The government is looking to make particular aspects of the Coronavirus Act permanent, including an expansion of the famously discriminatory practice of stop and search and permission to crack down on non-violent protest, which they have been doing so far under the guise of breaking up gatherings which “[pose] a considerable risk to people’s health”.
Though, it’s odd that they haven’t stopped police officers from kettling protestors and forcing them into close proximity with each other, isn’t it? And I guess they decided they suddenly couldn’t read -- à la Queen Mariah -- any of the literal evidence that masked outdoor protests do not in fact lead to noticeably higher numbers of COVID-19 cases.
If the PCSC Bill is allowed to become law, it follows that the inevitable result will simply be more violence towards women and marginalised people of all genders, including BIPOC and those in the LGBTQIA+ community, who are disproportionately targeted by police. As gal-dem’s Moya Lothian McLean explains, these temporary regulations have already afforded the state enormous authoritarian power, “using extremely vague language that can be twisted for any purpose”.
These rules are what allowed home secretary Priti Patel to deem 2020 Black Lives Matter protests as ‘unlawful’, and why officers were deployed to Clapham [to interfere with a distanced vigil honouring Sarah Everard] on Saturday.”
If the scenes witnessed at Clapham Common last week are anything to go by, the police will only continue to introduce violence into situations where they are not necessary. They will manhandle peaceful protestors and mourners; fail to adequately address cases of rape and abuse; be incapable of self-reflection, of recognising the grave damage their powers have inflicted upon our communities.
So how can we stop these draconian ideas from becoming permanent law? Well, we’re so glad you asked. Writing to your local MP is one of the best things you can do to speak out against injustice. Legends Sara Motaghian and Anuradha Damale have made our lives that little bit easier by providing an email template you can use, including one in Welsh. Class! There is also a petition circulating that, at the time of writing, needs around 100K more signatories. Netpol are demanding that the government drop the PCSC Bill, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council adopts a charter on the Freedom to Protest. You can read more about it, and support the cause here.
Remember: institutional violence will not protect the vulnerable, and it never has.