Yesterday & today sees at least 50 protests around the nation against the #PoliceCrackDownBill or The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill as the politicians like to call it. In what has turned into a Weekend of Action to #KillTheBill, Bristol today will see one of the later protests, as in our typically chilled way protesters won’t gather on College Green BS1 until 4pm. With the school holidays underway, and the pubs closed, we anticipate a very large protest – so bring everyone and make it even bigger! Calls have gone out across campaigns, networks & social media for people to bring their creativity, homemade placards & banners; their mini sound systems, whistles & noise.
To find out about some of the many things wrong with The Bill & why we must defend our Rights To Protest read: What is the Police and Crime Bill, why does it matter, and why are people so angry? from The Bristol Cable; Government announces new restrictions to the right to protest by NetPol; Protesting for Our Right to Protest from PRSC; and Street protest is the best means ordinary people have to make real change. It must be protected by us at AlternativeBristol.
So what will happen today? Who knows? We certainly don’t (honest officer!). It’s another protest called by everybody, and nobody, and anything could happen on a protest that may go anywhere – Bridewell police station? The Courts? The BBC? The Bristol Post? Horfield prison? Filton, Bedminster, Clifton, Hotwells, Stokes Croft & St Pauls, or around & around the City Centre again..? All of them? If you like a noisy magical mystery tour…then today may well the day!
What about the police? Who knows! They could be caught on the hop again; out for revenge again; confined to barracks; or anywhere in between. Master plan? Don’t think so! So stay alert, on your feet, with friends, masked up (Covid Regs & your Health & Safety!), and bring water & snacks (but not alcohol & drugs if you are sensible!). Layers of clothing will be useful too as it gets colder tonight.
Do make sure you Know Your Rights – on the streets and in contact with the police, be that on the protest, in a police station, or at home – check out Bristol Defendant Solidarity on twitter and Green & Black Cross Guides and this article by The Canary (and see below)
What about potential violence? Diversity of Tactics! We don’t buy into the media & politicians strategy of divide & rule – the good protesters v bad protesters. If you are out to #KillTheBill you’re a good protester in our books. Everybody has a broad set of protest tactics available to them – use the ones you are comfortable with, and respect the choices of those around you…in a sense of mutual solidarity. After recent protests in Bristol we really do not recommend sitting on the ground when the Riot Police charge, or the police horses & dogs come running at you – stand up and move for your own defence & safety. We hope the police don’t use such violent tactics again, but sadly the history of our struggles over the last centuries tells us clearly that the British state will always resort to violence & brutality against it’s citizens as and when it wants to. We didn’t win the rights we have today by sitting at home and voting every 4 or 5 years – because even winning the rights to vote, to freedom of assembly, to equality, to unionise – required many decades of struggle, with many a protester murdered, brutalised or imprisoned. That is our reality. Never forget that!
Solidarity with everyone today!