Policing / Protest rights

Liberty condemns policing of Reclaim These Streets vigil

Posted on 13 Mar 2021

Liberty has criticised the policing of the #ReclaimTheseStreets vigil at Clapham Common today (13 March).

The human rights organisation condemned the Metropolitan Police for choosing not to work with organisers – and instead resorting to aggressive interventions.

Gracie Bradley, Liberty interim director who was at the vigil, criticised the Home Secretary as the “true architect of this disaster” for demonising protestors and refusing to support a protest exemption to lockdown rules.

Bradley warned that the Government is also seeking to make restrictions on protest permanent through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is due in Parliament next week.

Gracie Bradley, Liberty interim director, said:

“Police were given the choice on how to approach this protest. They could have worked with organisers to ensure people could collectively grieve and protest a lack of protection. But instead they chose aggressive interventions that put people’s health at risk and led to chaos and distress.

“The true architect of this disaster is the Home Secretary, who has relentlessly demonised protestors and refused to support a protest exemption to the lockdown rules. She has undermined a vital pillar of democracy in the process, and pitched police against the public by encouraging aggressive enforcement against those who take to the streets to dissent.

“Protest isn’t a gift from the State – it’s our fundamental right. Not content with all but banning protest during the pandemic, the Government is now using this public health crisis as cover to make emergency measures permanent. Its new policing Bill is an all-out assault on our right to protest. It’s those of us who are most at risk of having our rights abused who will find we’re even less able to hold the powerful to account.

“We all have a right to speak out against abuse of power. But this right is under attack – and we must come together to show we will not stand for this.”

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