After a critical mass bike ride protesters attempted to sleep out on Parliament Green but were surrounded and ordered to disperse under SOCPA. The controversial act – currently being repealed – was used to prevent the protest, and to make a number of arrests after “kettling” it. The kettle included a number of journalists and legal observers.
Campaigners from Squatters Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH) had accused the government of ‘bypassing democracy’ by sneaking the amendment through parliament after 96% of consultation responses argued for no change in the existing law. Tonight campaigners claim that the basic right to protest against being homeless is being undermined by the police’s actions.
Reuben Taylor from SQUASH said after getting out of the kettle:
’96% of respondents to consultation said no to the criminalisation of squatting. Before the results were published an amendment was slipped into an unrelated bill with little debate. When the 96% come to protest, they kettle and arrest them. Democracy is no longer just being bypassed its being totally disregarded.’
‘SOCPA says you have to register a protest 7 days in advance but a week ago today they hadn’t even announced the amendment.’