I’m writing this open letter as a call to action. It’s been floating around my head as I recover from Covid and a year of protest like no other. Now, as the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill (the Kill the Bill Bill or PCSC Bill) moves through the Westminster Parliament, for activists, it feels like we’re living in a ticking time bomb.
After brutal policing of protests, and the deaths of two young black men following contact with the police in the south of Wales, it’s urgent that 2022 is the year we must unite. We must come together to resist the increased policing of our communities by violent, racist, sexist, homophobic, and classist police forces. Protests erupted in calls for justice for Mohamud Hassan and Mouayed Bashir, for Sara Everard, against the destruction of and selling off of our communities and homes, with massive actions on climate change, and Black Lives Matter (BLM).
There are so many huge, urgent, and unavoidable issues. It’s terrifying and we’re all just one person. So coming together in protest, in tens, or tens of thousands, gives us comfort, as well as the power and strength to create change by standing up for what’s right.
In 2022, the UK Government will take away our right to protest, remove citizenship rights, and ‘review’ the Human Rights Act. It’s not an understatement to say this is a full scale assault on our rights to protest, to assemble, our right to literal human rights, and for some, the right to even live in Wales at all.
There are key laws (amongst a programme) tailored to appease the racist, radical right who lead and drive the Tory party. Piggybacking on middle Englanders’ reactions to the manufactured culture wars and our Brexit hangover, the Conservative Party are centralising power in the cabinet and cracking down on dissent and barriers to their exploitative, violent governmental programme.
The PCSC Bill is here because of the incredible and emotive BLM protests in 2020 and the actions of XR, along with awesome and long running protests and direct actions across Britain. These actions have consistently shown that sustained or targeted direct actions, which disrupt the regular flow of capital and labour, can achieve real, radical change.
The Bill is a genuine threat to so many individuals and communities, and our right to object to unjust decisions or corrupt government actions. To me, it indicates the impact of the UK Government’s actions is about to get a lot worse for a lot of people. That means we have to push back against it together.
The Bill gives the police more power to restrict peaceful assembly, procession, and protest, creating a broad statutory offence of public nuisance with a max sentence of 10 years. It creates a new criminal offence of residing or intending to reside on land where it causes or likely to cause ‘significant disruption, damage, or distress’ indirectly impacting the Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (GRT) community severely and effectively ending traditional travelling life. Amongst other serious issues, the Bill will also increase the amount of time people spend in prison before being released on licence, disproportionately impacting Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic people and undermining rehabilitation of prisoners.
This Bill will have a serious impact on future protest actions and for the many people who come into contact with the police and the justice system. It will see perceived organisers and ‘troublemakers’ targeted by police, inevitably leading to increased violence against Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic and working class people. It will effectively end the traditional way of life of the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community. For Undod, it could have stopped the farming protest and rallies for independence, and could curtail local actions by members with their local community. It will certainly impact the future of actions and campaigns in the UK.
As Undod campaigns officer, I’m committed to working with members to continue to resist this bill and the others long after they become law. I hope you join me in engaging in even more protest action this year.
We have the power to create real change through protest, simply by disrupting the regular flow of capital and labour, handing out flyers, sharing resources, and raising our voices. So make 2022 the year you help grind business as usual to a halt. Get your mask on and join local kill the bill actions, and then keep turning up whenever and wherever you can.
Join the national day of action on the 15th of January 2022 by showing up or organising an action in your community.
Fuck the Government. #KillTheBill
With love and peace for the new year,