As our space to protest becomes increasingly curtailed by new legislation from a government obsessed with order and terror, more than 200 people from a diverse range of groups and campaigns met in London on 23 October to assert our right to protest.
The Freedom to Protest conference kicked off with contributions from school students, the Smash EDO anti-arms campaign, parliament square protesters, police monitors, and sacked Gate Gourmet workers, all demonstrating their persistence and resistance against the efforts of government, corporations and police to prevent protest. As an activist from SHAC said - if they bring in a new law against us, we should take it as a compliment - it means we're being effective.
Workshop sessions focused on equipping activists to challenge new and mutating laws, empowering ourselves, continuing effective protest, and in resisting anti-terrorist measures which increasingly suppress protests and criminalise communities. Practical sessions shared experiences, ideas and tactics on defending cases in court, setting up defence support groups, suing the police, and dealing with the police.
The timeliness of this meeting was reflected in the number and diversity of groups both supporting and attending a conference which had, as one of the organisers summed up, “surpassed expectations”, and which concluded with proposals for continuing action, protest and resistance.