By Dawn M. Sanders
“Absolutely we need the right to protest more than ever. It’s good to see so many different activist groups out together sharing something in common and that is the freedom to express our voices in evermore challenging times.”
Yes, I was there – we were all there in our thousands…
The KILL THE BILL demonstration on 1st May was about challenging the policing bill which the Tory party has tried to rush through parliament, but so much more.
It was right on and amazing to see people have awakened to the encroaching control we are living under, often under the catalyst of covid for a tightening noose.
Of all the dozens of demos I’ve been to, I was simply compelled to get to this one, as my family’s human rights has been violated for several years now, as the judicial system and other powers-that-prevail, have grossly misused their powers, but I won’t go there for now.
With the onslaught of Brexit and our NHS over-stretched, yet under-funded and under-valued – whichever side of the fence you are on, there’s no denying the unprecedented, precarious atmosphere we are faced with.
At the demo all the usual groups and unions were out in force, as May day coincided as one rally to the call for worker’s rights, human rights, and the right to protest as we have done in the last couple of millennia, from the first suffragettes to the uprisings of the 1890s.
There were new unions that have cropped up in answer to the watering down of worker’s rights, such as the Independent Worker’s Union – I also met a woman with the Yoga Teachers Union.
This Tribune article treats us to an historical tapestry of the struggle for worker’s rights, celebratory religious and pagan commemorations of the changing season, but the added fight for our right to protest embodied in the worker’s movement was intrinsic to the day.
As my guide and marching partner and I along with his daughter, made our way toward Downing Street the air was permeated with the usual passions of mass demonstration, incense and unmistakable anger, as someone from behind us shouted into a megaphone: “Priti Patel, go to hell, Priti Patel, go to hell!” undoubtedly in response to the Home Secretary’s draconian approach to immigration and asylum seekers.
When those from non-western countries, such as Syria in the Arab spring of 2011protest for the basic right to democracy, what has resulted is a ten-year-war, further ravaging the already volatile Middle East. However, for us, it seems the war on our freedoms, freedoms we have fought for, is underway in earnest. In discussing our right to protest, Rammy, a youngish man in the crowd said: “Without the freedom to protest, there is no other freedom to fight for.” He said of the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: “I think it’s a response to a couple of things – the Extinction Rebellion stuff, Black Lives Matter, were on such a massive scale and didn’t really cooperate with the police in the way they would have liked, so they’re trying to criminalise the activity where people don’t pander to them and say, can we please do this.”
Stuart said:” It is really important to be down here at the moment specifically to stop Patel’s bill. Absolutely we need the right to protest more than ever. It’s good to see so many different activist groups out together sharing something in common and that is the freedom to express our voices in evermore challenging times.”
With May local, mayoral, and Scottish parliament and Welsh Senedd elections upon the UK; facing economic uncertainty and an environmental tipping point, the craziness of the political arena is a definitive test to the human spirit and societal resilience, as life on earth changes as we know it.