“If they’re upping the stakes, we need to up our game..”
The Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill is being read in the House of Lords today, and I’m getting some pushback from that last rant! I was sarky and angry. I’m officially Victor Meldrew…
So, to clarify. There will of course be protests after this bill is passed. In fact, I would be very surprised if the police would use their new powers immediately.
But if anything significant kicks off, like a major XR or BLM mobilisation, or major counter protests against the legislation, then we will see individual activists targeted, harassed and their movements even more restricted than now. They could even be banned from social media. Protests could get stopped before they start.
If the treatment meted out to a random BLM protester in Cardiff is anything to go by, when a young mother and her kids were harassed by police just for attending a demo against the post-custody death of Mahmoud Mohammed, then we are right to be worried. (Google Claire James voice.wales).
We should also be very concerned that protesting becomes even more of a privilege than it is already, weighted in favour of those who have the time and money to deal with the possible consequences.
People will stop standing up for themselves in this way. Which, I imagine, is the point.
This bill also targets travellers, Roma and those living a nomadic lifestyle, as well as increasing stop-and-search powers, disproportionately affecting people of colour. It contains provisions that will help women’s safety, although the fact that this is apparently being used to “sweeten” this piece of authoritarianism is just …. beyond belief.
Campaigns of civil disobedience against bad legislation can be empowering and forge diverse alliances but they do not usually end up immediately removing it from the statute books. Neither does electing a Labour government.
But protesting will continue, because it must. It is necessary. And if they’re upping the stakes, we need to up our game.