OVER 10,000 youth and workers demanding ‘Kill the Bill’ marched from Speakers Corner Hyde Park and rallied in Parliament Square, central London, on Saturday.
Protests against the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill also took place in Newcastle, Birmingham, Liverpool, Brighton, Weymouth and Luton.
And more than 1,000 people gathered in Bristol for what was the fifth Kill the Bill demonstration in the city centre in the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, hundreds demonstrated in Manchester where people were seen sitting on tram tracks before police moved in.
On the London march, the Workers Revolutionary Party banner demanded ‘Disband the Police, Kick the Tories Out, For a Workers Government and Socialism.’
A lively delegation of Young Socialists and the WRP shouted: ‘Smash the capitalist state! Socialism now!’ ‘One solution, revolution!’ and ‘No police killings! Kill the Police Bill’ as well as ‘Defend the right to strike! Kick the Tories out!’
At Hyde Park Corner, Jonty Leff, News Line editor addressed the assembling crowds.
He said: ‘Cressida Dick, head of the Metropolitan Police, cut her teeth when she was in charge of the operation that killed Jean Charles de Menezes the young Brazilian electrician who was followed into Stockwell station by police, held down on the tube and shot seven times in the head.
‘No wonder she says she did nothing wrong when she ordered her police to storm the bandstand at Clapham Common during the peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard.
‘That has sparked an uprising against the police state.
‘And it is a global movement with the George Floyd case going on now in the US. In Greece they will not allow police on university campus and in France they have risen up against a ban on taking photographs of the police.
‘Here, this is a movement to defend the right to protest and to defend the right to strike. The best way to defend the right to strike is to strike!
‘Not one section, but every section, everyone in the working class to come out together in a general strike to bring down this government.
‘Hundreds of thousands of people are coming to the same conclusion.
‘The entire police force from top to bottom makes up the capitalist state. A force that is armed and dangerous existing solely to defend the rulers of this country and to defend capitalism.
‘The situation has become as clear as day … the police cannot be reformed they must be disbanded.
‘They must be replaced by a workers state and socialism.’
News Line spoke to several of the mainly young participants as they assembled in Hyde Park.
East London bookshop worker Josh Largent said: ‘I’m here to join the protest against the new policing Bill.
‘For me, the main reason for being here is that I’m anti-racist and an activist.
‘The Bill is going to restrict the right to protest. It also takes measures against Travellers.
‘If the Bill gets passed it will allow the police to decide what’s lawful in the way of protest.
‘And we know the police are racist and sexist.
‘They shouldn’t be given these powers.’
Amelia Provick, 23, a Croatian living in Willesden, told News Line: ‘The Police Bill is absolute nonsense.
‘They are trying to take away our freedom and bring in a dictatorship.
‘They want to control us workers so the rich remain rich.
‘The government has brought in this Bill because they are afraid people are fed up with inequality and may rise up in a revolution.
‘The trade unions need to bring everyone out on strike – we need something big to make a change.
‘My family did not come here from a dictatorship to be in another dictatorship.’
Maths student Chris Hughes said: ‘I’m here to defend the right to protest. Also, this Bill is really bad for Travellers.
‘A lot of important things have been achieved through protest and the Bill gives a huge amount of power to the government.
‘The trade unions should take action, everyone should take action.’
Young London cook Sam Jones added: ‘I’m here because criminalising protest is outrageous.
‘It’s hypocritical because we’re marching to Parliament Square where there are statues of Gandhi and Nelson Mandela – people who changed the world for millions – yet this government has the gall to try to pass a Bill like this through parliament.
‘It’s intimidation! I hope that people will rise up and be counted.
‘Everyone across the country should take action. Protesting is a human right.’
Samantha from Wales, a sports worker living in east London, said: ‘I’m protesting against giving the police more powers.
‘The government should be investing in helping people not oppressing them.
‘We should kick this government out. The trade unions should take action.
‘The system is corrupt. I’m for socialism, capitalism can never help people – it’s impossible.’
Alex, a young NHS worker from Hertfordshire, told News Line: ‘I’m here to protest against increased police powers.
‘We’ve been cooped up for the past year and it’s good to get out and be heard.
‘It’s good to see so many people coming together.
‘This Bill is very reactionary. They make out it’s going to be temporary but it won’t be.
‘The government are worried about more action by workers with lockdown ending.
‘People are angry about all sorts of things – the way this pandemic has been handled, social justice issues and pay cuts.
‘The trade unions should take action against this Bill.’
Martin Swain, an airline pilot from St Albans, said: ‘I’m here to give my support to the movement.
‘It’s important to protest against this Bill, to start with.
‘I feel the establishment is scared of the movement in the country because the economic situation is dire. And when the furlough system stops in September there will be unemployment and the movement will kick off.
‘This Bill gives the state more powers. It’s important we go against it and defend our right to protest.
‘It’s important for the labour movement to come behind this protest and the trade unions to also show their support and solidarity to lift the movement to the next level.’
Eighteen-year-old east London 6th Form student Victor Chikov said: ‘I don’t think the Police Bill is good, they are stopping protest.
‘It gives too much power to the police. They have too much power, anyway and this Bill gives them even more.
‘Young people get stopped and searched for no reason at all – they stop us for what we are wearing.
‘I don’t like this government, I’m more of a socialist.’
Scott from Southend told News Line: ‘I’m here because I’m concerned about the trajectory of society.
‘Fundamental rights are being chipped away and dissolved.
‘There’s been enough taken for granted. The myriad of problems we have, we have to stand together and be counted.’
At the rally in Parliament Square after the march, University and College Union (UCU) leader Jo Grady said: ‘If you don’t have freedom to protest you have no freedom at all.
‘There are many here who have not trusted the police for generations, we do not need more police on the streets.
‘In that place across the road (i.e. Westminster) and in Scotland Yard they are organising against us all the time.
‘If you are not in a union pledge to change that now.
‘We say Kill the Bill – not edit or tweak it.’
Unite union assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett also address the Rally: ‘I was at a court in London last week where the Shrewsbury Building workers had to wait 42 years to clear their names.
‘Under the Covid Act there have been 72 prosecutions, whereas in 140, 000 accusations of unsafe workplace practices there has not been a single prosecution. We are fighting for working class people standing up for trade unions.’
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: ‘This is one of 50 demonstrations in cities around the country.
‘Against not only this Bill but the Spycops Bill and the overseas operations Bill.
‘We must oppose this Bill because you can only demonstrate with the permission of the police – and then only silently!’