Monday, February 09, 2015

UK police ban protests by poor people

The right to protest is one of the fundamentals of democracy. But in the UK, police have just effectively outlawed it by demanding groups pay for traffic control:

The right to stage demonstrations in Britain could be threatened following a demand that climate change protesters planning a march next month hire a private firm to oversee it – a role previously carried out by the police.

The Campaign Against Climate Change (CACC) says it is effectively being made to “pay to protest”, after learning that its demonstration in London, which could attract up to 20,000 people, will carry a bill of thousands of pounds.

Following negotiations with the Metropolitan police, the Greater London Authority and Westminster city council, the organisers of the Time to Act march – which is supported by the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the Stop the War Coalition, Global Justice Now, Avaaz and Friends of the Earth – have been told the police will no longer facilitate the temporary closure of roads along the agreed route.


The Met spokeswoman said the police’s core responsibilities were “preventing and detecting crime, maintenance of the Queen’s Peace and protecting life and property”. She said that because the proposed demonstration, on 7 March, was expected to be crime-free there was little requirement for it to provide a policing operation.

In other words, they will only police protests to suppress them. Its a very British approach, one that harks back to Peterloo - but its not what we expect in a supposedly democratic country. But then, with a stacked political system and an increasingly totalitarian surveillance state, you have to wonder how long the UK will be able to continue to claim that status.