At a public meeting on the 2nd December, we collectively decided it was time for a campaign for the freedom to assemble in the UK. This was in response to continued police repression and the Government's consultation 'Managing Protest around Parliament', which proposes giving the police powers to censor the content of banners and placards, and that the laws about restrictions and notifications which currently apply to marches should be extended to static demonstrations. This is what has already happened in the 'SOCPA zone' around Parliament.
The proposed powers and those already given to the police create a climate of criminalisation, a plethora of laws are applied arbitrarily, so people are arrested simply for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, for having the wrong face, and combined with a police culture that evades accountability even when innocent people are killed, as in the Menezes case and others, there should be no complacency that the court system can be relied on to prevent abuse. Whatever the campaign you are involved in, whether it's for a safer school crossing or to end a war this proposal will affect you.
The government consultation, which ends on 17th January, needs a response not on paper but on the streets, our message is simple - we claim the freedom to assemble without prior notification or permission - and this is not open to negotiation. We therefore call for a nationwide day of action on Saturday 12th January proclaiming this freedom, as the first step in establishing a new era where it is unquestionable that our liberties cannot be consulted away.
The next public meeting of the campaign will be on 5th January, venue TBC.