|On Tuesday evening, thousands protested for a third day against the government’s plans to expand police powers against the protesters, reports Yonas Makoni
Protesters descended on Parliament Square for the third day in a row on Tuesday in a fight against the government’s new Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill. Over the past four days, these protests have morphed from expressing anger and solidarity with victims of male and police violence, in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard, to being an urgent push to protect the right to protest itself.
Arriving at 6pm, a sizable crowd had already positioned themselves on the square. Speeches were given and a minute’s silence was held for Sarah Everard and other victims of police violence.
These protests have demonstrated the close links between violence against women to the state’s crushing of dissent and overpolicing of ethnic minority and working class communities. Consequently, the crowd’s hostility towards the police had only grown.
The speeches emphasised the oppressive functions of policing and attendees were carrying “defund the police” placards and shouting “shame on you” and “fuck the police”. They also directed their anger at the government, particularly Priti Patel, for pushing through the Policing bill, which will hand over greater powers for these institutions to restrict protests and effectively criminalise dissent.Around 7.30pm, we moved on to New Scotland Yard, where the hostility intensified as the police began to make intimidating movements towards the crowd. “Quit your job”, “arrest your own” and “they can’t arrest us all” chants were added to the roster, as a group of police formed a line behind the protesters, helmets in hand.
Thankfully, it was all bluster and the crowd eventually continued the march down to Victoria. However, as the crowd was now smaller, the police began making arrests, with reports that they specifically targeted legal observers, and the protesters dispersed.
During the protest it was announced that the second reading of the bill had passed. This should not deter us, however. If anything, the need to protest is now much stronger. While the police have been significantly emboldened by this bill, we should not overestimate the power of the state. They can’t arrest us all. It is now crucial that we keep taking to the streets and defend our rights.