Saturday 30 April 2011

MPs, activists and trade unionists condemn new attacks

Release from Defend the Right to Protest:

A series of raids and “pre-emptive arrests” in the days leading up to the royal wedding represent a dangerous clampdown on our hard-won right to protest.

Squats have been raided by large teams of police officers. Activists have been arrested on the bizarre charge of “conspiracy to cause public nuisance and breach of the peace” for trying to organize street theatre on the day of the royal wedding. Students arrested after the tuition fees protests have had their bail hearings moved forward and been charged and banned from the City of Westminster.

These include Alfie Meadows, who nearly died of a brain haemorrhage after being hit with a baton on December 9 and has now been charged with violent disorder. This follows the kettling and police violence against student protests and the mass arrest of 148 protestors who peacefully occupied Fortnum & Mason on March 26.

Politicians condemn regimes in the Middle East that do not allow their citizens to speak out against their rulers (some of whom, including the royal families of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, are attending the royal wedding today). Yet the political policing that has preceded the royal wedding threatens to do the same in Britain, making it a crime to be a protestor on high profile state occasions.

If this can happen for the royal wedding, how can we be confident that we will be allowed to protest at the opening of Parliament, the Tory Party conference or Chancellor Osborne’s budget announcement?

Now more than ever, as the government cuts threaten the jobs, services, pensions and benefits that millions rely upon, we need to assert our right to protest without fear of arrest and intimidation. We will be protesting outside the first hearing of Fortnum & Mason occupiers on Monday 9 May, 9am, at City of Westminster Magistrates Court and invite everyone who believes in defending our democratic rights to join us there.

Initiated by Defend the Right to Protest

Signatories include:

  • Stop Kettling Our Kids
  • UK Uncut
  • Justice for Alfie Meadows
  • United Campaign Against Police Violence
  • Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
  • Matt Foot – Campaigning Lawyer
  • Aamer Anwar – Campaigning Lawyer
  • Billy Bragg
  • John McDonnell MP
  • Katy Clark MP
  • Liam Burns – President NUS Scotland
  • Mark Serwotka – General Secretary PCS
  • Billy Hayes – General Secretary CWU
  • Roz Kaveney – Queer Resistance
  • Laurie Penny – journalist
  • Nina Power – Senior Lecturer Philosophy, Roehampton University
  • Michael Chessum – Co-founder National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts
  • Mark Bergfeld – NUS NEC, Education Activist Network
  • Ashok Kumar LSE SU Education Officer
  • Kanja Sessay NUS NEC, Black Students Committee

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