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‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration planned for this weekend in Sheffield

With the Policing Bill back in Parliament this week, Sheffield Against the Policing Bill have organised a demonstration protesting the bill this Saturday.

Protest2
Mike Jones

After being delayed for several months, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill returned to Parliament this week in its journey to become law. People have been organising and protesting as part of the Kill the Bill movement since March, and there are now more nationwide demonstrations planned for this weekend to protest the bill, in an attempt to lobby politicians to stand against it.

Now Then has spoken to Sheffield Against the Policing Bill (SAPB), a local campaigning organisation, ahead of the planned demonstration on Saturday.

Could you tell us what's been happening with this bill since it was delayed in Parliament in March? And what's about to happen with it now?

The progress of the PCSC bill through Parliament was delayed in March after widespread protests in towns and cities across the country, many of them met with significant police violence. On Monday, the bill finally returned to the House of Commons and was voted through by MPs. Despite the bill running to almost 300 pages, less than 5 hours were allowed for debate. All opposition amendments were voted down by MPs. The bill will now go to the House of Lords.

What kind of work have you been doing as an organisation locally?

Since March, Sheffield Against the Policing Bill has been organising and coordinating opposition to the bill, bringing together activists and organisations from across Sheffield and South Yorkshire to stand up for our rights to protest, to oppose the further extension of authoritarian state powers, and to defend those communities who will be hit hardest by this new legislation. We have been building links with local communities, campaign groups and trade unions, and raising awareness of what this bill will mean for our democratic rights and freedoms.

The public response in opposition to the bill has been overwhelming. Protests in Sheffield city centre have seen thousands come out onto the streets to show that this bill will not be allowed to pass quietly, and that the people of this city and this country will not accept their rights being trampled on, their communities being criminalised, or new powers being given to police forces who already abuse the ones they have.

On Saturday 10th July, we are asking people to come out once again to show that Sheffield stands against this authoritarian bill. We are meeting at Barker’s Pool at 1pm, for what we hope will be the biggest and loudest protest yet.

Why is it still important that people come out and protest this bill?

This bill represents an attack on all of our freedoms. If made into law, it will introduce sweeping new powers for the police to target already marginalised and harassed communities, and to clamp down on any and all forms of dissent or civil disobedience, on the grounds of being too ‘noisy’ or ‘annoying’.

While this legislation’s attacks on protest have been relatively well publicised, they are just one part of a whole range of authoritarian measures proposed in this bill. Stop and search powers – already routinely used to harass and terrorise young Black men in particular – will be significantly expanded, empowering police to stop a person without needing reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed.

New powers to issue cautions to ‘foreign offenders’ – potentially requiring them to leave the UK ‘for a period of time’ – will lead to further discriminatory policing against anyone subjectively judged to be a foreign national, and will further undermine the security of people with irregular migration status.

New trespass offences, and new powers to respond to ‘unauthorised encampments’, target Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, effectively criminalising a way of life and a community which is already marginalised and over-policed. New powers will enable officers to seize vehicles and trailers, making people homeless, or to threaten them with fines or imprisonment.

Until this bill becomes legislation, it is vital that it is opposed by all means possible. If it’s not going to be defeated in Westminster or in the courts, then we need to defeat it on the streets. If this legislation does get passed, then we need to make it unworkable.

We shouldn’t forget that this legislation was introduced in direct response to the mass mobilisations we have seen in recent months, for environmental justice and in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. When this government sees people out on the streets in numbers, standing together and making our voices heard, they are scared – because they know that when we act together with courage and solidarity we can win.

Whether or not this bill becomes law, we need to show that we will not allow our rights to be taken away, nor will we abandon those communities most targeted to fight alone.

The demonstration will be held this Saturday (10th) at 1pm, at Barker’s Pool.

Kill the bill
Sheffield Against the Policing Bill
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