Of Tories, statues and human rights
"The measures in the Bill will allow the police to take a more proactive approach in managing highly disruptive protests ... broaden the range of circumstances in which police may impose conditions on a protest." This from the British govt website. The Policing Bill is being discussed today and I'd like to take a moment to reflect on what it means and why it is both dangerous and undemocratic.
Firstly, we would all do well to remember that it is protest that has delivered society's most urgent and transformational changes. Women's suffrage, Indian independence, the civil rights movement in the US, the Arab Spring in the Middle East and, more recently, the women's strike in Poland to oppose a proposed a near-total ban on abortion. Were they 'highly disruptive'? Of course they were, that's the whole point - you have to disrupt to be able to influence power.
Secondly, the British Home Secretary is someone who has famously described the Black Lives Matter protests as 'dreadful' and the toppling of slave trader Edward Colston's statue as 'utterly disgraceful'. A child of Indian asylum-seeking immigrants herself, she further declared she'd never take the knee and does not believe in protest. It therefore comes as no surprise that this bill is born out of her fascist fury at the BLM movement and general contempt for human rights. By the way, I am intentionally omitting her name so it doesn't soil my blog.
By the time some of you will read this, it is very likely the Policing Bill will have passed, the Tories have an 80 seat majority after all. Great Britain is on the cusp of criminalising protests and expand police powers. In doing so, the country will find itself edging dangerously closer to authoritarianism, the legal suppression of any form of dissent and the normalisation of abuse of power.
But sure, let's by all means deploy the police to protect the statue of one of history's worst racists and colonialist and let's unleash dozens of agents at a vigil in remembrance of a murder victim so they restrain, handcuff and forcibly remove women holding candles.
When the government prioritises the security of statues of dead people over that of women at a vigil, you know it is no longer time for silence - this is the time to speak up, turn up and be heard.
Photo credit Jack Hill