The controversy around the newly formed anti-protest bill, has raised profound concern and alarm with various human rights groups. For the first time we’ve seen a host of different organisations with opposing views come together in protest of a bill, which has been described as a ‘draconian’ restriction on a right to protest.
Alongside the scenes at the Sarah Everard vigil in Clapham Common, the past year has been a turning point for collaborative protest the world over. Black Lives Matter in particular sparked national and international conversations about topics that needed discussing. A truly powerful movement, one which we reflected on in Race Equality Week, showcased the power of protest even when it has been most repressed.
Protests can be powerful in shining a light on issues that matter to the public. However, protest can be complex from the public safety point of view, because they also have the ability to become dangerous or violent. As the last year has shown us, mass gatherings can be tricky when public health is a concern, often leading to physical implications such as jumping on top of tubes or knocking down statues. That’s where the police come in. Their role within most democratic systems isn’t to stop the protests, but to ensure people are able to protest in the safest way possible. The present bill however, many fears, give the police and legal system too much power and that if the bill gets passed in its current state, it will become a threat to democracy.