Coalition Leads Mass “Kill the Bill” Demonstrations Across the UK for Mayday
Friday, April 30, 2021
Email: [email protected]
Tens of thousands are set to attend 40 different ‘Kill the Bill’ rallies in cities across the UK on Saturday 1 May. The demonstrations are in protest against the government’s police powers Bill.
Events will kick off at 12:30 in Trafalgar Square, London, with simultaneous demonstrations planned across 40 different locations in the UK, including Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Sheffield and Edinburgh. This map displays the full list of protests this weekend. Online protests are also being conducted by Disabled People Against Cuts and IWGB.
This is the latest progression in the ‘Kill the Bill’ movement – a coalition of over 40 activist groups who have joined forces and taken to the streets since March to reject the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is due to resume its path through parliament in May. The groups are committed to disrupting the Bill’s progress through parliament at every stage and have lifted up the Bill’s attack on racialised communities, the right to protest, and on civil liberties.
Groups in the Kill the Bill coalition include Sisters Uncut, Black Lives Matter UK, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Socialists, Disabled People Against Cuts and Women’s Strike Assembly.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a 300-page piece of proposed law that seeks to increase police powers in terrifying ways. It will drastically impact the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, give police expanded Stop and Search powers and criminalise the right to protest. Lawyers argue that this proposed legislation violates international law.
Dani Cane, a youth worker who plans to attend the protest on Saturday said:
“The police have repeatedly proven that they are drunk on power, and will always use violence against us, not just against the most vulnerable people they routinely target, but anyone who they deem to be not behaving in a way they approve of. It is vital that we prevent this bill from being passed in order to keep ourselves safe and resist the authoritarian abuse of state power. We must be able to hold the police accountable for the violence they relentlessly cause.”
An anonymous member of Sisters Uncut said:
“The police powers bill should be scrapped entirely. It is authoritarian in tone and in nature, and will lead to more abuse of police powers. It will take a mass movement to force it to be thrown out of parliament.
If this police powers bill becomes law, we will see even more police violence – against people who speak up against injustice, and specifically against Black, Muslim and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.”
Jess Sharp, a domestic violence worker who plans to attend the protest on Saturday said:
“It has felt like every single day since Sarah Everard was murdered, more stories of horrific police violence have come out. The police are bullies and perpetuate endless violence, giving them more power puts us at more risk and so we cannot allow this bill to pass”.
Why we’re marching on Mayday
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
On Saturday 1 May, tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in 40 different locations across the UK. Why? To stop the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a huge, 300-page piece of proposed law that seeks to increase police powers in terrifying ways.
If this police powers bill becomes law, we will see even more police violence – against people who speak up against injustice, and specifically against Black, Muslim and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
What is in the bill that’s sparked all of these protests?
This proposed laws will give police unprecedented powers to use against the public. Police are already drunk on the powers that they have – if they are given more, it will only lead to more violence.
Here are the specific parts of the bill we are most concerned by:
Protest (the right to assemble) is a human right
You never know when you might need to take to the streets to speak up against injustice, but you have a right to do it. The police powers bill will try to shut down our ability to do that, police will have the power to seriously restrict and criminalise protest by:
- Imposing a start and finish time
- Setting noise limits
- Applying rules of a demonstration by just one person
- If someone fails to follow police directions, they could be fined up to £2,500.
- Police will be able to arrest people at protests without warning. Right now, police need to prove to protesters that they knew they had been told to move on before they can make arrests. The bill gives the police the right to arrest someone where they “ought to have known” a condition existed.
- The proposed law includes an offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing public nuisance” – and language in the bill suggests that if someone ‘annoys’ a police officer, they could be charged. The language and the scope of powers given to senior officers and to the Home Secretary through this Bill are open for abuse.
- The bill will seek to lock up protest organisers for longer sentences – increasing the maximum sentence from 3 months to 11 months imprisonment. These changes risk plunging people further into the criminal justice system, simply for exercising their democratic right.
- Trespass is currently a civil law offence and police have no powers to arrest offenders. The police powers bill makes it a criminal law and would empower police to arrest any person and seize any vehicles or property. This impacts the right to protest overnight or set up protest camps. This also has a huge impact on Gypsa, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities – even the police don’t want this.
The police already abuse the powers they have – and shouldn’t be given more. The violent policing of the Sarah Everard vigil, the reckless brutality of police against protestors in Bristol and London (including police pretending to be postmen to gain entry to a protestor’s house, handcuffing her while half-naked), the use of mobile fingerprinting technology at protests to harvest public biometric data, and the £10,000 fine given to a nurse protesting the 1% NHS pay rise are very recent examples of this.
If the police are handed more powers, we’re about to see more terrifying violence against people who are courageous enough to speak out against injustice.
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) rights
Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities are among the most persecuted and marginalised in the UK. The police powers bill wants to criminalise their existence. This will be done by criminalising ‘unauthorised encampments’ and established trespass – effectively criminalising GRT communities’ way of life. The proposals in the Bill are extremely discriminatory:
- The Bill will create a new offence of “residing on land without consent in or with a vehicle”. It is undoubtable that these powers will be used to target GRT communities – whose vehicles include homes, and who may end up homeless. It’s vital to recognise this in the context of a country that has a huge shortage of sites for GRT communities to reside on.
- If a person or family is removed from an area, they are banned from returning for 12 months. A person who returns will face harsh criminal punishments, including up to 3 months in jail or a fine of up to £2,500.
GRT communities anticipate even more violent evictions than they already face if this police powers bill goes through. As GRT socialists have said: “this bill has rubber stamped the treatment we receive, such as being racially stereotyped, segregated from public spaces and businesses and economically excluded”.
Stop and Search
The proposal to create a new civil order, the Serious Violence Reduction Order (SVRO), will hand police an extraordinary power to stop and search a person who has previously been convicted of a weapons offence at any time, in any place, completely free of suspicion. This will hand the police a highly oppressive tool, unlike anything seen before, which will disproportionately impact Black men. Already, Black people are 8.9 times more likely to be subject to a stop and search than white people, and non-Black people of colour 4.1 times more likely.
- Stop and search is already a discriminatory and invasive police practice, but right now, a stop and search can only be lawfully exercised during a set timed period and over a defined geographic location. Previous convictions have never been used as a grounds to stop and search someone. The current time period for suspicionless stop and search is 24 hours. SVROs will be implemented for up to 24 months at a time – and can be renewed indefinitely.
- SVROs can be handed to someone who has never handled a weapon, but “ought to have known” another person they were with at the time, did.
- This means police will be given extraordinary powers to stop and search someone anywhere, at any time, despite no evidence of a person ever handling a weapon before.
- If someone resists an SVRO – for example, by failing to do anything required, or obstructing a police officer in the exercise of it – they could be put in prison for up to two years, or receive a fine. Human Rights organisation Liberty is concerned that “this could be interpreted broadly, to criminalise people requesting that police provide the legal authority for subjecting them to a stop and search or failing to provide an answer to a question put by a police officer”. Liberty also say that “making a refusal to co-operate a criminal offence may lead to people being fined or criminalised in circumstances where they do not understand the instructions given by a police officer and therefore fail to comply. This may also detrimentally impact disabled people or people with mental health needs, some of whom may find it difficult to follow directions.”
Other provisions in the Bill will see invasive surveillance of young people and children, similar to the widely-condemned PREVENT strategy, and a mandate for controversial children’s prisons (known euphemistically as ‘secure schools’) to be run for charitable benefit.
The Bill has also opened the gateway for retrogressive policies like Diane Johnson MP’s tabled amendments on sex work, which will push sex workers into dangerous working conditions by.
What does Kill The Bill mean?
We believe that the police powers bill should be scrapped entirely. It is authoritarian in tone and in nature, and will lead to more abuse of police powers. All of the above affects all of us, and it will take a mass movement to force it to be thrown out of parliament.
Kill The Bill weekend of action
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Over the past two weeks we have seen the explosion of a national movement against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. People across the UK have taken to the streets to say: no more police powers – the Police Crackdown Bill must be stopped. In this short space of time, we have gained some big wins, including forcing the government to delay the Bill through Parliament, instead of quietly rushing it through like they had originally planned to do.
Amazingly, and unsurprisingly, this movement has rapidly grown way beyond us.
This weekend, people across the UK are once again taking to the streets to demand that the government #KillTheBill. There have been demos called across the country throughout the weekend including one in London on Saturday, April 3rd.
We are calling for a National Day of Action on Sunday, April 4th: this is not a demonstration, but rather a series of small events and actions you can take from home. There is more information on this below.
We know that not everyone can, or wants to, go to demonstrations. The actions below contribute to the movement and can be done from home. Our strength is in our numbers, and it is only through a national mass mobilisation that we will defeat the police powers bill. We already know the police are drunk on power, and they cannot be given more.
Although we are not leading on any demonstrations this weekend, we encourage those that do go out to do so safely: please follow COVID-safe protocols and check out Green and Black Cross’ website for advice on your rights when protesting. Remember to not go to or leave a demonstration alone, and if asked to do anything by a police officer, always ask: under what power?
This is a national movement and one that we are proud to be a part of. We have spent the past week reaching out to and organising with groups affected by the police powers bill – you can read our collective statement of solidarity here. This Bill affects communities differently, but is bad for all of us: it threatens our right to work, assemble, protest, and travel. This also means that we will need all of us to defeat it, this movement leaves no one behind.
Many of you have sent us posters, designs and more support over the last few weeks. We’re now putting these to use as part of our National Day of Action on 4th April 2021.
What can you do on 4th April?
- Use the resources available here to let your community know that you are part of the #KillTheBIll movement.
- Put a poster up in your window
- Flyer outside a busy spot (wearing masks and observing social distancing)
- Post flyers through all your neighbour’s letterboxes
- Put up posters in your community
- Share your posters online using the hashtag #KillTheBill
- Set aside some time to read more about the Policing, Crime Sentencing and Courts bill.
Part of the government’s strategy is to let time pass in the hopes that we forget about the bill. We will not let this happen. We are asking that everyone, in their cities, towns, and villages call their local radio stations to say: do not give more powers to the police.
- You can find your local digital radio station here.
- Here are some talking points:
- The police are drunk on power and should not be given more
- You are concerned about the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that is moving through parliament, and want it to be scrapped entirely.
- The events at the Clapham vigil and at demonstrations over the last few weeks are a dangerous indication of what the future of protest will look like if the police powers bill moves through parliament.
- The police powers bill will give police increased power to threaten, intimidate and use violence against Gypsy and Traveller communities – including give them permission to seize their property (which includes homes)
- The police powers bill will increase stop and search powers, which already discriminate against marginalised communities
We are letting the government know: we will make this bill unenforceable in the streets. This is just the beginning. We will #KillTheBill.
Sisters Uncut Statement on Bristol – We Will Not Be Divided
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
It feels like every day a new story about police violence comes to light. Over the past week, we’ve seen a police officer walk free after being caught on camera assaulting a woman, using tactics that he had learned on the job to force her to the ground, screaming that she was a ‘fucking slag’ when she managed to escape. In the 6 years between 2012 and 2018 there were 594 complaints of sexual violence against Met police employees, of which only 119 were upheld. We know that only a fraction of incidents of sexual violence are ever reported to the police, so it’s safe to assume that the true number is far, far higher. With the passing of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act earlier this month, the state authorised police officers to deceive women into sexual relationships, and even into pregnancy. The police are the perpetrators.
The police already have a monopoly on violence and the Police Crackdown Bill will only entrench this further. Protests in Bristol over the weekend were described in national newspapers as having ‘turned violent’, yet we know that it was protesters, not police, who bore the brunt of that violence. Police tactics, including kettling, the use of batons, and dispersal techniques such as horse charges, are violent in both intent and effect. Whether they are manhandling protesters at Saturday’s vigil in memory of Sarah Everard, aggressively pursuing young Black women for their details, or forcefully arresting protestors for shaking their heads at officers, as we saw last weekend at Bristol, it is clear that it is the police who turn protest into violence.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will enable the police to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to travel, congregate, protest, and work. Sentences of up to 10 years are laid down for anything from a protest to a house party or even just a lone individual causing ‘serious annoyance’. This bill attacks all communities, and it is all of us that must resist.
31 years ago, a mass movement formed in opposition to Thatcher’s poll tax, a flat tax that would have punished the poorest in society, and took to the streets to defeat a bill that could not be defeated in parliament. During the protests, mounted police and police vans charged through crowds of people, who were beaten with batons, but politicians and the media drew a contrast between a moral majority and a small number of violent protesters. The stigmatisation of protesters is a tactic of division that we won’t stand for. It is a fearful response by a state that thrives on division and scarcity. While the police can use violence against people with impunity, protesters are condemned for ‘violent’ damage to property.
We applaud all those who went out this weekend, and took to the streets to defend the right to a life free of state violence. The police use violence to divide us, but we will not be divided. The conservative media attempts to paint a moral hierarchy, but we will not be forced apart. We know that this bill can be defeated, and we are coming together in a coalition of solidarity to do just that. We will not be silenced. We will kill the bill!
8M Feminista Latinx
Anarchist Communist Group
Black Lives Matter UK
Community Action on Prison Expansion (CAPE)
Disabled People Against Cuts
Docs Not Cops
Jewish Solidarity Action
Kurdistan Solidarity Network
Minority Protection Initiative
No More Exclusions
Prisoner Solidarity Network
Remember & Resist
Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century
Sisters of Frida
SOAS Detainee Support
United Families and Friends Campaign
Women Defend Rojava
BREAKING: Sisters Uncut declare victory at halting police powers bill in Parliament
Thursday, March 18, 2021
- Feminist direct action group Sisters Uncut declare victory as controversial police powers bill is delayed in Parliament.
- Sisters Uncut have organised five consecutive days of action since Saturday 13 March, where women were brutalised by police at a Sarah Everard vigil.
- Sisters Uncut say the police are drunk on power and should not be granted more.
- Since Saturday 13 March, thousands have joined Sisters Uncut outside Parliament Square and New Scotland Yard. A coalition of grassroots groups have mobilised together to speak out against the Bill.
- In response to the breaking news that the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill has been delayed until April, the group are defiant: “This is the power of protest, and this is just the beginning. We are ready to fight the police powers bill at every stage of parliament”
Email: [email protected]
At 21:30 on Thursday 18 March, feminist direct action group celebrated victory against the government’s police powers bill.
Sisters Uncut have held five consecutive days of organised protest against the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill, which was sparked by the police violence against women at a Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common on Saturday 13 March.
The week so far:
At 18:00 on Saturday 13 March, Sisters Uncut joined thousands of people on Clapham Common at a Sarah Everard vigil. After flowers were laid and the sun went down, Metropolitan police stormed the bandstand where women were standing and told members of the public to “go home”. By 7.30pm, police were trampling flowers and grabbing, manhandling and arresting women in the crowd.
At 16:00 on Sunday 14 March, Sisters Uncut declared a second vigil outside Scotland Yard in direct response to the police violence. A minute’s silence was held for Sarah Everard, before the crowd moved to Parliament Square, where thousands of people lay down on the ground in protest at the state’s violence against women and gender non-conforming people. Speeches were made, featuring MP for East Nottingham Nadia Whittome who emphasized that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will expand police powers and diminish the right to protest. She said, “This bill will see the biggest assault on protest rights in recent history. If this bill passes, we won’t be able to gather outside Parliament Square anymore in mourning like we are today.”
At 17:00 on Monday 15 March, after two consecutive days of vigils honouring Sarah Everard and rejecting gendered violence and police violence, thousands gathered for a third day of protest at Parliament Square. Protesters were joined by multiple Members of Parliament and trade unionists. Between speeches, the crowd took a minute of silence to remember Sarah Everard and all victims of police, state, and gendered violence.
At 09:00am on Tuesday 16 March 2021, on the second day of the government’s reading of the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, feminist group Sisters Uncut laid flowers outside parliament spelling out the words “kill the bill” in a bid for the government to scrap the legislation.
At 18:00 on Tuesday 16 March, thousands gathered at Parliament Square for the fourth consecutive day of protests for Sarah Everard and against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill moving through Parliament. Speakers at the protest called the Bill an “assault on freedom” and implored Members of Parliament inside to “kill the bill.”
This demonstration happened at the same time as the bill had its second reading in Parliament. The vote was called during the demonstration, and whilst it passed this reading 359–263, protesters pledged to continue fighting, chanting a popular refrain from Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom – it is our duty to win.”
Speakers referenced police at Clapham Commons on Saturday who ignored sexual harassment of women protesters, spoke about the dehumanising photos taken by police of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry after their deaths, and invoked the names of Black people who died at the hands of police. Members of Sistah Space, a Black-led domestic violence support centre, said, “This is for Sarah, for Sandra Bland, for Breonna Taylor, for Nicole and Bibaa. If you see a Black woman arrested, get involved.”
A speaker from Sisters Uncut announced the reading vote, saying, “This is just the beginning. We will fight in our thousands at every stage, and we’re just getting started. Join us. We will not be silenced.”
At 19:00 on Thursday 18 March, Sisters Uncut held an online meeting with over 4,000 attendees. Speakers included the Public Interest Law Centre, Black Lives Matter, Traveller Pride, No More Exclusions, Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) and Disability Justice.
Evidence shows that giving the police more power, as is proposed in the Police, Crime, Senencing and Courts Bill, will lead to an increase in the number of survivors being arrested, especially black and minority ethnic and poorer survivors. It will give police more power to digitally stripsearch survivors of gendered violence who report to the police. It will give police more powers to enact sweeping new stop and search powers, to increase surveillance and to criminalise Gypsy and Traveller communities. And most importantly it will give police more power to to decide where, when and how citizens are allowed to protest institutional systemic violence.
An anonymous member from Sisters Uncut said, “The last week has shown that protest works. That’s why they want to ban it, and that’s why we’re fighting back. The coalition that is coming together shows just how many people are angry about the brutal reality of policing in this country, and who are determined to roll back this dangerous extension of state power. Saturday night has shown us that the police are drunk on power, and should not be rewarded with more.”
“Policing by consent is a story this country likes to tell about itself. The reality is that policing is unaccountable, aggressive and violent. Targets of police repression – working class people, racial minorities, sex workers and many others – have had enough.”
Notes for Editors:
- Sisters Uncut are a direct action group protesting cuts to domestic violence services. The group was formed by domestic violence survivors and sector workers in 2014 to defend domestic violence services from austerity cuts, and has blossomed into a mass movement across the UK, with groups in Doncaster, London, Newcastle, Bristol, Portsmouth and Birmingham.
- Sisters Uncut is formed of non-binary people and women renowned for bold protest tactics, including jumping on the red carpet at the ‘Suffragette’ premiere and dying the Trafalgar Square fountains red.