I wrote this letter to my MP today after the arrest of republican protesters at King Charles III’s coronation. If you’d find it useful, feel free to copy any bits of it.
Dear Lucy Powell MP,
I am deeply concerned about recent legislation and police actions that are undermining the right to peaceful protest in our country.
As you are most likely aware, on the morning of the coronation, the chief executive of Republic, Graham Smith, and five other organisers of an anti-monarchist protest were arrested by police in London.
The group had been walking behind a van containing hundreds of placards when they were searched by police. The police alleged that the protesters had lock-on devices, which they denied.
Additionally, the police seized the group’s placards.
The arrest came days after the Republic group received intimidatory letters from the Home Office warning them about new laws relating to protest.
The Public Order Act 2023 has been condemned by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, who has appealed for the UK Government to reverse the ‘deeply troubling legislation’.
The law means that protesters who block roads, or lock on to others, objects or buildings could face prison.
The definition of ‘locking on’ could include linking arms during a protest, which would be punishable by prison. Many famous protests across the world have included this act of non-aggressive solidarity, such as the March 1965 civil rights movement march from Selma to Montgomery, led by Martin Luther King Jr.
Additionally, the Act provides provision for suspicion-less stop and search powers in relation to protests.
The law comes as part of a broader and deeply concerning trend which has seen the erosion of human rights and civil liberties in the UK over the past decade, with the Government repeatedly promising to scrap the Human Rights Act, prosecuting protesters, and imposing draconian mass surveillance laws.
As part of a new Government, will you please pledge to reverse these unjust laws and restore the UK’s reputation as a shining beacon of democracy around the world?
The right to protest and peaceful assembly is what makes Britain great, and those seeking to deprive us of these rights should be unequivocally condemned.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.
Photo credit: UK Parliament, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) https://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/7166016394