1 June 2024Feature

The government is trying to intimidate anti-militarists into ending their campaigns

The sudden appearance of a ‘National Security Act 2023’ warning sign outside the Bristol offices of Israeli-owned arms manufacturer Elbit was a reminder to campaigners that as well as expanding public order laws, the government has also introduced sweeping changes to espionage laws that cover places where protests regularly take place.

Although this legislation was presented as necessary to counter hostile threats from foreign intelligence services, Netpol warned in 2022 that new…

1 April 2024News in Brief

Long-time legal observer Lesley Wertheimer, 71, has complained to the Metropolitan police after officers pushed her to the ground from behind, leaving her unconscious, with cuts to her cheek and a sprained knee, the Observer reported on 3 March.

Amateur video shows the police knocking Lesley, who was wearing a hi-vis ‘legal observer’ vest, onto the road, face-first, during a Gaza march on 6 January.

1 February 2024News

Organisers accuse police of 'politicised' approach to ceasefire protests

The policing of the major Gaza ceasefire marches in London has been aggressive, hostile and ‘politicised’.

That was the charge put to the Metropolitan police in a letter on 22 January from the organisers of the national marches for Palestine in London.

The organisers are: Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, Palestinian Forum in Britain and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

The organising…

1 December 2023News

Annual march demands justice for unexplained deaths in custody 

On 28 October, the United Families & Friends Campaign held its annual march from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street in Central London, delivering a list of unexplained deaths in the custody of the state. The march took place just before a massive Gaza solidarity march, where BLM (Black Lives Matter) UK formed part of a bloc remembering those who have died in state custody.

1 December 2023News in Brief

Green and Black Cross and Activist Court Aid Brigade have produced a very useful guide to restrictions on protest in the Public Order Act 2023.

They say they will update the guide as more sections actually come into force (when they have been ‘commenced’ in parliament):

27 September 2023News in Brief

In September, London’s Metropolitan police apologised and paid out ‘substantial’ damages to Dania Al-Obeid and Patsy Stevenson, who were arrested at the 13 March 2021 vigil on Clapham Common in memory of Sarah Everard.

Also in September, the Met finally apologised and agreed to pay a six-figure sum to Alfie Meadows, who was left with severe brain damage after being hit by an officer’s baton during a student protest in 2010, when he was 20. Police had charged him with violent disorder…

1 June 2023News

How to resist the new Public Order Act that is stripping away our right to dissent

The Metropolitan police took ‘swift’ action on 6 May to shut down protests at the coronation of king Charles, in a series of arrests that showed how little the idea of ‘policing by consent’ now means in practice.

In a classic example of why negotiating with police is fraught with risk, weeks of ‘dialogue’ in advance of the coronation by the campaign group Republic failed to prevent the immediate arrests of several of its members who were accused of having equipment used to lock-on. [‘…

1 June 2023Feature

A photographic exhibition about deaths in police contact, prisons, mental health and care units

SoulsINQUEST is a photographic exhibition created by photographer Sarah Booker with 17 families bereaved by deaths in police contact, prisons, mental health and care units, in collaboration with the charity INQUEST, curated by Languid Hands. SoulsINQUEST uses photography and writing as a lens onto state violence, death, grief and resistance. The exhibition took place on Brixton’s Railton Road, a historic centre of resistance to state violence and racism, at the gallery of 198 Contemporary…

1 June 2023News

Labour leader refuses to condemn police crackdown 

Three days ahead of the coronation of Charles III, the new Public Order Bill, with many restrictions on the right to protest, became law. The anti-monarchist campaign, Republic, and other groups, including Extinction Rebellion, were sent a letter by the home office warning that these new powers had been brought forward to prevent ‘disruption at major sporting and cultural events’.

Describing the letter as intimidatory, Republic announced that it would not be deterred from protesting…

2 April 2023News

‘Staggering escalation of the government’s clampdown on protest’ looks set to become law

As PN went to press, the Public Order bill was on its way to becoming law.

While the House of Lords did make some changes to this repressive legislation, the bill as a whole remains a ‘staggering escalation of the government’s clampdown on protest’.

That was the description given at the end of January in a joint parliamentary briefing from Amnesty International UK, Liberty, Big Brother Watch, Greenpeace, the Black Equity Organisation, Netpol (the Network for Police…

1 February 2023News in Brief

On 23 November, a review found that the arrest of four journalists covering climate protests on the M25 was ‘potentially unlawful’.

Documentary filmmaker Rich Felgate and photographer Tom Bowles were arrested on 7 November. LBC reporter Charlotte Lynch was arrested the following day. All three had offered their press cards. (One other, unnamed journalist was also arrested)

The review by Cambridgeshire police found that the arrests (by Hertfordshire police) were not…

1 February 2023News

Three more jailed over Bristol clashes

On 16 December, three more people were jailed in connection with the ‘Kill the Bill’ clashes in Bristol in early 2021, bringing the total in prison to 26.

Earlier, on 18 November, it was reported that Avon & Somerset police had paid undisclosed damages to five people who say they were assaulted by the police during the ‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration in Bristol on 23 March 2021.

The incidents took place on College Green after a day of peaceful protest against the Police,…

1 February 2023News in Brief

On 9 January, charges were dropped against Symon Hill, campaigns manager of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), in connection with his anti-royal protest on 11 September.

Coming across the proclamation of king Charles III in Central Oxford by chance, Symon shouted out: ‘Who elected him?’

He was arrested, taken to a police van, then de-arrested. In December, he was charged with ‘disorderly behaviour’, before having the charge dropped in January.

Symon is considering legal…

1 December 2022News

Zombies visit Home Office over Public Order Bill

Zombies visited the Home Office on 29 November with a gravestone saying: ‘Public Order Bill – Stay Dead’. They were there to hand in a petition (organised by Greenpeace and Liberty) signed by over 300,000 people, calling on the home secretary to stop attacking the basic human right to peaceful protest.

That day, the Public Order bill was having its second reading in the House of Lords. It contains restrictions on protest that had been removed from the Police, Crime, Sentencing and…

1 October 2022News in Brief

In early August, the crown prosecution service (CPS) notified lawyers that it had dropped charges of breaching COVID lockdown rules against six people arrested during the Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common, London, on 13 March 2021.

The CPS said it was not in the public interest to proceed.

One of the six women, Dania Al-Obeid, is launching a legal action against the Metropolitan police over its policing of the vigil (she was handcuffed after arrest).

Dania signed a…