10,000 march against police bill

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Young people at the front of Saturday’s Kill the Bill demo against the Tory-Johnson government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

MORE than 10,000 workers, students and youth marched against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill from Lincoln Inn Fields to Parliament on Saturday afternoon, chanting ‘Kill the Bill!’

There is another mass demonstration on College Green opposite Parliament from 5pm-7pm this evening as the police bill, and other reactionary Tory bills, including the immigration and borders bill and the Voters ID bill, are debated in the House of Lords.

As Saturday’s march was assembling, demonstrators spoke to News Line.

Poet and market trader Daniel Cliff said: ‘The police bill is turning the country into a police state.

‘It more or less tells you when you can turn up for a protest, what you can have on your banner, how much noise you can make.

‘Anyone who has any concern over our future freedom has to fight this.’

Children’s entertainer Megan Smith said: ‘The police bill contains the Serious Disruption Prevention Order, which is like an Asbo.

‘They can not only stop you from attending a protest, but they can censor what you say online or even in the street talking to your friends.

‘The bill also targets Gypsies and Travellers, authorising the police to commit actions targeting them, allowing them to seize and destroy their homes.’

Enfield Housing Unite member Nick Long said: ‘The bill will put in jeopardy lots of people with dual heritage.

‘There’s a clause which says that people without British citizenship are vulnerable to deportation if they are found to have committed an offence, or even to have gone on demonstrations, marches or protests. They are deemed not to be conducive to the public good.

‘There has to be trade union action to defeat it.’

Kathy McCubbing, from Reading Socialist Club, carrying a Palestinian flag, speaking about the recent Tory law banning support for Hamas in the UK, told News Line: ‘The police bill is designed to stifle protest.

‘Hamas is the democratically elected government of Gaza and has a lot of support.

‘People under occupation have a right under international law to resist by any means, including violent. I am not a proponent of violence, but they have got that right.

‘They are a democratically elected government, Britain has got nothing to do with it.’

There were some speeches before the march set off.

Comedian Mark Thomas told an enthusiastic audience: ‘Under this bill you can get 10 years for destroying a statue!

‘The great thing is, the Tories stand there as the party of law and order. Really?

‘Our job is to be annoying. The police bill bans making a noise. Our role is to make sure that Johnson and that lot go.

‘Monday night, College Green, when the Lords are debating it, let’s make some noise. Without noise change does not happen.’

Liberty Director Martha Spurrier said: ‘Liberty was founded in the 1940s after hunger marchers were brutally arrested.

‘Today we are supported by many organisations, including the TUC.

‘This bill stops you protesting where, when and how you want. People up and down the country know this bill is wrong.

‘This government is also trying to bring in voter ID. We stand with you. This bill doesn’t want you to be noisy, so my advice to you is, make some noise!’

There were scores of drummers keeping up a constant beat and lots of placards.

The Workers Revolutionary Party and Young Socialists banner read: ‘Disband the Police. Free Julian Assange.’

And the lively delegation marching behind it kept up a constant chant of ‘Kill the Bill – Kick the Tories out!’ and ‘One Solution – Revolution!’

Marchers spoke to News Line on the way to Parliament.

Carrying a ‘Tories Out!’ placard, Alison Munro, a graphic designer from Edinburgh said: ‘The Tories are making rules that they’re not following themselves. It’s not just a question of getting rid of Johnson. The Tory government has to go!’

Daryl Page, an architect from East London, was carrying a placard saying: ‘Migrants Welcome – No-one is Illegal!’

He said: ‘It’s up to all of us to stand up this government and speak up for those who don’t have a voice.

‘The police bill and the immigration bill are interlinked and take mankind backwards not forwards.

‘The trade unions must stand up for workers’ rights and bring the Tories down.’

Theo Peck, a youth from South London, who was carrying placard saying: ‘If you can party, we can protest,’ said: ‘It’s to highlight the irony of what this government is doing right now. It’s not enough to get rid of Johnson, the Tories have to go.’

First speaker when the march arrived at Parliament, was former Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, who said: ‘This is a proto-fascist government. It’s our right and responsibility to fight these bills. It’s not just the police bill on Monday, it’s also the elections bill which will require ID for voting.

‘There’s also the bill to restrict the right to judicial review. There’s the disgraceful asylum bill from Priti Patel, then finally the police bill to prevent demonstrations and occupations. Yes, we’ll seek to defeat them in Parliament, but if we fail then we’ll have to do it on the streets.’

Zeta Holborn from Barac UK said: ‘These attacks on our rights have been happening for a long time. Now there are mass deportations by charter flights, mainly of black and Jamaican people. We’ve been campaigning against them way before they became known as the Windrush Scandal.

‘Clause 9 of the bill strips people of their citizenship, even if they are born here. It’s done to hide the lies of the austerity programme which has been going on for 10 years or more. We have to fight these bills.

‘When they finish coming for me and my community they will come for you and yours. This country is becoming an apartheid-like state, a racist state. If you are silent when you witness injustice and discrimination then you are part of the problem, not the solution.’

Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: ‘I’m the son of a father born in Palestine who saw his parents driven out of their homes in the Nakba. The anti-BDS bill makes it illegal to boycott Israel. No to the anti-BDS bill, no to the police bill, no to the borders bill. Yes to Free Palestine.’

The audience then chanted very loud and long: ‘Free, Free Palestine!’

The final speaker was former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, who said: ‘There is a whole agenda to disempower people and to empower the state. Over the past two years billionaires have become trillionaires and Amazon and other corporations have had their wealth doubled and trebled. Meanwhile, the poor have got poorer.

‘The borders and nationalities bill criminalises saving the lives of people drowning at sea.

‘We defend the NHS and have to do so. We also want an end to the dumping of raw sewage into our rivers, which the private water companies have done 400,000 times. We want renationalisation. Bring them back into public ownership.

‘Young people must be recruited into the trade unions and the trade unions have to act now to defeat these reactionary measures.’

• See photo gallery