The first major nationwide protests of 2022 erupted on Saturday 15 January. It saw people out in force up and down the UK as they continued to try and ‘Kill the Bill’.
2021: the year of the fightback
Home secretary Priti Patel’s authoritarian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (the police bill) has caused uproar. Many see it as racist against Black people and the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community. It will also clamp down on our rights to protest, to roam, and to take strike action. Amnesty International said the bill:
represents an enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers
2021 was filled with protests over the bill. Some of these were marred by police violence. Courts have sent some protesters from Bristol to prison – possibly the shape of things to come.
Since the Tories first unveiled the police bill, they’ve made several changes to it. It’s now even worse.
So, on 15 January, people hit the streets once more to show their anger over the bill. They were also raising awareness of it.
Kill the Bill once more
Protests took place in various places: from Leeds to Liverpool, to Bristol and Bath, to Cardiff and Nottingham. The protests also highlighted another nasty, racist piece of Tory legislation: the Nationality and Borders Bill.
Manchester saw a large turnout:
As did Sheffield:
People were out in force in Bristol and Bath:
And they were out in Cardiff too:
Cornwall also saw demos:
People speaking out
In Bath, film director Ken Loach spoke. He said of the police bill:
It is a truly damaging and dangerous piece of legislation. And it does attack our fundamental rights.
Meanwhile, in London, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn raised his voice. He said:
I want us to be strong, and confident, and thoughtful enough to recognise that all over the world, young people have all the hopes, the enthusiasm, the imagination… they have that sense of determination. And they do not want to live in a divided, racist society.
He also took a swipe at the corporate media in the process:
There was cross-party support for the Kill the Bill protests: from Labour and Greens politicians to newer parties like Breakthrough and the Northern Independence Party. Campaign groups also got involved, from Disabled People Against Cuts and Extinction Rebellion to War on Want, CND, Global Justice Now, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, and Stand Up to Racism.
The London demo ended up outside Downing Street:
But 15 January’s protests weren’t without the police causing problems. In Manchester, one cop was singled out for violent behaviour:
Other cops in Manchester were also filmed being heavy-handed:
In London, the Met were allegedly also using facial recognition technology:
They were “protecting” the Winston Churchill statue again. But the cops also got a taste of their own medicine:
2022: the year we must kill the bill
Overall, it seemed that most protests went through peacefully. While it also seemed the turnout was good, there is an argument for future protests to be more disruptive. The time for just A-B marches is quickly passing. The UK needs people to make it ungovernable for the Tories. 15 January’s protests were good to see, but walking with banners on a Saturday isn’t going to stop the authoritarian legislation that the government is pushing through. We need more direct action, before the UK’s descent into corporate fascism is complete. The challenge with this is, if the police bill passes any direct action could result in prison sentences for people. So, people need to decide if that’s a price worth paying for our most basic of rights.
Featured image via Urban Pictures – YouTube