It's time we had freedom to publicly assemble in the UK. The Campaign
for Freedom of Assembly is calling for a second national day of action
against the existing legislation restricting our freedom to protest
around Parliament and its possible extension to the rest of the country.
consultation paper 'Managing Protest around Parliament'. This
consultation, which ended on the 17th of January, began as a review of
the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) 2005, sections
132-138, which restrict demonstrations in a 1km zone around Parliament.
While the review was originally with an eye to possibly repealing these
controversial sections of the legislation, it turned into a consultation
on ‘managing protest’. The consultation paper’s questions on the
possible harmonisation of the existing legislation shows the
Government's intention to extend current restrictions on protest around
Parliament to the whole country. This means giving the police powers to
censor the content of banners and placards, and the existing laws
asserting restrictions and prior notifications to marches - currently
covered by the Public Order Act 1986 - being extended to all demonstrations.
The proposed powers and those already given to the police create a
climate of criminalisation: a vast confusion of laws are applied
arbitrarily so people are arrested simply for standing in the wrong
place at the wrong time or having the wrong face. This combines with a
police culture that evades accountability even when people are killed,
as shown by the Menezes case and others. There should be no complacency
that the court system can be relied on to prevent injustice. The ability
to exercise effective protest is crucial in order to defend ourselves
and others from the abuses of those in power.
Whatever the issues that matter most to you, whether you are concerned
about a safer school crossing, a new runway or ending a war, this
proposal will affect you.
The government consultation needs a response not on paper but on our
streets. The message is simple: we claim the freedom to assemble without
prior notification or permission and this freedom is not open to
We plan to hold a second national day of action on Saturday 1st of March
proclaiming this freedom as the next step in establishing a new era when
it will be impossible for our liberties to be consulted away.
We are meeting at 1pm at the top of Trafalgar Square. Come with your
mates and discuss with them what you want to do with the day. Bring
placards, banners, whistles or anything else you can think of. Let them
know you won’t be easily silenced.
Campaign for Freedom of Assembly