The protestors pushing back against the UK's authoritarian new laws

As the Tories hand more power to police and less to its citizens, Sarah Stedeford photographs those taking to the streets in protest.

by i-D Staff
|
26 January 2022, 8:00am

There's normally enough fuckery in British politics to fill a few front pages a week, but right now the stories coming out of No. 10 feel particularly unrelenting. Behind these allegations, however, as inexplicable as they feel, lie the most insidious aspects of the current UK government's leadership. As Athian Akec wrote for us in December, at a moment when it felt like we'd reached peak Tory sleaze, "far more sinister" are the actual bills they're quietly trying to pass into law.

Last week, one such bill — designed to give police greater power to disrupt and quash peaceful protesting — passed from the House of Commons to the House of Lords for consideration. Though aspects of the bill were defeated, meaning it returns for MPs to consider changes, the policy change still looms large over the UK and poses a huge threat to our democratic right to protest.

Protesters holding painted eye signs at the Kill the Bill protest

Simultaneously, Home Secretary Priti Patel's Nationality and Borders Bill, designed with a clause to strip British nationals of their citizenships – a barbaric form of criminal justice brought to wider public attention and delivered with signature Tory flare in the case of Shamima Begum – also sits in the House of Lords after two successful readings. The bill is looking increasingly like it will pass and, if you're thinking perhaps the government won’t actually enact this power often, they will. Since a relaxation of the laws around this practice 15 years ago, at least 464 people have been stripped of their British citizenship.

While Kill the Bill protestors have been marching across the country for some time, the movement now feels more urgent than ever, as these bills grind closer to becoming laws. We went down to one protest in London to meet a few of the attendees, get a sense of why it was important to them to keep protesting, and why they felt optimistic in spite of it all.

Protester in a hoodie, face mask and leather jacket covered in badges at the Kill the Bill protest

Jace, 20, south London

What do you do? Student. Why are you protesting today? Because protest is a fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. What makes you feel hopeful? Seeing so many people come together to fight for change. @halofaced

Protesters in all black and a rainbow face mask holding a pink flag at the Kill the Bill protest

Ester, 18, Herfordshire

What do you do? Music student. Why are you protesting today? To raise awareness and stand against criminalising protest. What makes you feel hopeful? Solidarity between different groups. Our common goal makes our message more powerful. @esterfayemusic

Protester in a yellow coat with

Gee, 26, London

What do you do? Drawing student at Falmouth University. Why are you protesting today? This government and the corporations it upholds are leading us into an unbelievable future. The gradual removal of independent thought and collective freedoms is a nail in the coffin for all life. We MUST ALL stand up and protest one another. What makes you feel hopeful? The community of active, passionate, creative people around me and across Britain and the world, who will continue to stand up for the wonder and protection of all life on this awe-inspiring planet. Art will always bring us hope.  @georgeumney

Protester with an

Keira, 16, Portsmouth

What do you do? Student. Why are you protesting today? For my human rights. What makes you feel hopeful? People power. @hi_keirapower

Three protesters at the Kill the Bill protest, one holding a sign saying

Kyra, 17, Eltham, London

What do you do? I study travel and tourism. Why are you protesting today? To kill the bill. Power to the people. What makes you feel hopeful? The people protesting today. @kyr6_

Lex, 18, Tunbridge Wells

What do you do? Student. Why are you protesting today? For my rights. To combat a racist bill. What makes you feel hopeful? Protesting and using my voice.  @trash.boat

Jeceiie 22, Crowborough

What do you do? Self-employed. Why are you protesting today? Kill the bill. What makes you feel hopeful? Use of my voice.

Protester wearing a sign saying
Protester holding a flag saying

Mollie, 18, Gravesend

What do you do? Studying history and politics. Why are you protesting today? For everyone’s right to be able to express their issues with our government with the police being antagonists and abusive. What makes you feel hopeful? How everyone from different communities and everyone's pride in their identities are coming together. @thevomitgoddess

close up of a protester with a khaki jacket and red mohawk at the Kill the Bill protest

Max, 18, north London

What do you do? I’m an art and design student. Why are you protesting today? The right to protest is a human right and the government taking that away is state oppression and must be stopped. What makes you feel hopeful? The amount of people I’ve seen at these protests makes me believe that we will keep fighting this bill until it is gone. @maxhatescollege

Protester holding a sign saying

Adam, 16, north London 

What do you do? Student. Why are you protesting today? Upset about current situation with government bill. What makes you feel hopeful? Protests help to make our future more hopeful.

Protester wearing a sign on his hat at the kill the bill protest.

Jerrick, 25, Whitechapel

What do you do? Unemployed. Why are you protesting today? V.A.B.B and policing square. What makes you feel hopeful? The people coming together to bring awareness. @jerrickcarne

Protester with rainbow hair and face paint at the Kill the Bill protest

Nurto, 43, London

What do you do? Model. Why are you protesting today? It’s the right thing to do.  What makes you feel hopeful? Seeing my family. @sweet_blood.47

Protester holding a sign saying
Protester holding a sign saying

Void (he/they), 18+, London

What do you do? N/A. Why are you protesting today? Trans rights — long story. What makes you feel hopeful? Able to get healthcare and dogs. 

Protester in t-shirt and cargo trousers with a walking stick at the Kill the Bill protest

Goldi, 22, London

What do you do? Full-time activist. I live on protest camps. I make art. Why are you protesting today? This bill will have a huge impact on my way of life. It will criminalise my community and make it impossible for us to live within our integrity and to live our politics. This bill is an escalation of the violence that gypsy, Roma and traveller communities already experience at the hands of the state and that makes me angry. What makes you feel hopeful? I have a community I can rely on who I am politically aligned with. We will find ways to adapt and ways to push through the cracks, even if our livelihoods and homes will be steam rolled over.  @thebreadthief_

Protesters at the Kill the Bill protest
Protester in all red holding a sign saying

Eden, 21, London

What do you do? Student. Why are you protesting today? Because protest is a fundamental human right and from the grassroots we must come together to resist this dangerous government. What makes you feel hopeful? That the power lies within community and that thousands of radical acts of kindness are happening every day #fuckboris. @edenrickson

Protester holding a sign saying

Alex, 17, north London

What do you do? Student. Why are you protesting today? To oppose the police crime and sentencing bill and protest the rights of the GRT community. What makes you feel hopeful? The sheer number of people who showed up today and the solidarity and the love shown. @axrfbn

close up of a protester wearing a face mask at the Kill the Bill protest

Ruby, 22, London

What do you do? Fashion studio assistant. Why are you protesting today? The right to protest is a fundamental part of democracy that the government are trying to take away from us while they increase police powers, further the hostile environment and ignore the climate crisis. What makes you feel hopeful? How many people are constantly turning out to these events and working behind the scenes to protect our rights and those of everyone in this country. @rubylennox

Protesters with yellow kill the bill signs at the Kill the Bill protest
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LEX-1-Sarah-Stedeford-Killthebill-2022-id-hi-res-scan040.jpg

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Credits


Photography Sarah Stedeford

Photographers assistant Heather Lawrence

Thanks to Croydon Photo Centre 

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