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Hundreds turn out in Sheffield for the ‘Kill the Bill’ protest

Like many across the UK, people took to the streets of Sheffield this weekend to protest the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Mike Jones

Hundreds of people gathered on Devonshire Green on Saturday for the ‘Kill the Bill’ protest, which calls for the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to be axed in Parliament.

It’s a bill that would give the police significantly greater powers, including the ability to restrict the right to protest. The police would be able to tackle protests that aren’t deemed violent, but are causing a ‘serious annoyance’ or where ‘noise is causing a significant impact on those in the vicinity’.

The bill passed its second reading in Parliament on 16 March, but has now been delayed by the government, likely due to the work of Sisters Uncut, who organised huge numbers of people to come out and protest the bill over the past few weeks - protests which have since continued.

After initially gathering on Devonshire Green, the crowds started to move towards West Street, where people marched whilst chanting, ‘Kill the bill,’ and ‘This is what a democracy looks like’.

There doesn’t seem to be one group who organised the protest, but the message was widely circulated and supported by a newly-formed coalition of Sheffield groups, Sheffield Against the Policing Bill.

Mike Jones

As the crowds moved through the city centre, it became clear that the police station on Snig Hill was the destination. Once people had reached the station, a sit-down protest was organised and the road effectively blocked.

Whilst people were singing and chanting, a police officer came out to speak to a section of the crowd, but was met with loud booing. He left quickly and the crowd continued its march through the city centre.

The protest eventually ended up at Peace Gardens, where a sit-down was once again staged. A microphone was brought down and people started organising impromptu speeches.

A range of people - from university student union reps and climate activists to those who just had something to say - had a chance to voice their concerns to the crowd. Several talked about the impact the wide-ranging bill would have on people of colour, women, migrants, Gypsy, Romani and Traveller communities, and many more.

Mike Jones

There was a relatively minimal police presence throughout the day, with scattered police vans throughout the city centre and officers on horses. A few stood on the edge of the protest once it had taken up residence outside the Peace Gardens, but kept their distance throughout.

It’s likely that these protests will continue, both in Sheffield and across the country. As one speaker said during their speech, “We must fight for our freedom - and we must fight for each other.”

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