'We'll Be in a Fascist State': Protesters on Why the Police Bill Must Die

VICE photographer Chris Bethell interviewed people out on the streets for the Kill the Bill march.

Protesters took to the streets around the UK on Saturday to protest the new police and crime bill, which is due to voted on in the House of Lords today. Demonstrations took place up and down the country, including London, Bristol, Manchester, Sheffield and Plymouth.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill would introduce severe restrictions on the right to protest in the UK, giving the police the power to ban “seriously disruptive” demonstrations, stop named individuals from attending the events and expand stop and search powers. It would also effectively criminalise Roma and traveller communities with new laws against residing on land without authorisation.

In London, hundreds of protesters gathered for the “Kill the Bill” demonstration that snaked from Holborn towards Parliament Square in Westminster. VICE photographer Chris Bethell was there to document the scenes.

Nina: "I'm here for the collective support."

Nina

I'm here to show up for civil rights. I'm here with friends and I'm here for the collective support, to remind ourselves that we aren't isolated despited times when we are individualised.

Katie and Amy: "They're spirit crushers, get rid of them."

Katie and Amy

Katie: This is the fourth one we've done – we've gone to all of them and this is the last attempt to stop it, particularly given the fact that it will give police even more powers; powers which they already misuse.
Amy: What she said! They're spirit crushers, get rid of them.
Katie: If the bill goes through, it's the start of an authoritarian state.

Louise and Jacint: "I think what the government is doing is complete bullshit."

Louise and Jacint

Louise: I'm really fucking angry. I think what the government is doing is complete bullshit. It's not what democracy is. I think it's destroying everything I believe in. We're here to make noise, it's the only power we have at this point – and that power is at stake. We're here in solidarity showing that we really give a fuck. We elected people into power and they're not listening to us, so this is what we need to do.
Jacint: These are the people they should serve, we want them to listen.

Zoe: "The idea of sending people to prison for up to ten years for damaging a statue… is insane."

Zoe

The idea of sending people to prison for up to ten years for damaging a statue or a war memorial is insane. I had a look at the impact assessment written by the Ministry of Justice which they based on sending ten people to prison for ten years – the first year construction cost was £2.5m, and then keeping the people in prison was a further £2.4m.

That's £4.9m agreed by the Commons as an acceptable cost to send ten people to prison for ten years for attacking a statue. I'm not in the NHS, but I'm guessing you'd probably get quite a few junior doctors and nurses trained for £4.9m of the taxpayers’ money. 

Lau: "I'd rather be banging a drum than just sitting at home."

Lau

I'm here because the new bill threatens us with a fascist state, so it seems like the most sensible thing to do is to at least voice some disagreement. I don't really know what will come of it, but it just feels like something should be done. I'd rather be banging a drum than just sitting at home.

John McDonnell speaking at the Kill the Bill protest.

Pandora Kreizman, Iola Kreizman and James Kinghorn.

Pandora Kreizman, Iola Kreizman and James Kinghorn

James Kinghorn: I wanted to come for a dance, but also there's this thing called the bill where they want to stop us from protesting and I'm not really cool with that. So it's a double whammy for me.
Iola Kreizman: Yeah we're here to protect our rights as humans to protest.
Pandora Kreizman: We've got to be here to oppose it in any way we can.
Kinghorn: We want to continue liberty and freedom.
Pandora: I'm hoping this will get on the news and alert people that we could lose the democratic rights we've had since the 19th century.
Kinghorn: If the bill goes through, I'll leave the country.

Hanisah Othman and Kemi Alemoru.

Hanisah Othman and Kemi Alemoru

Hanisah Othman: You have to defend your democratic right to protest! I think if we let this bill pass and let it slip into law we'll actually be in a fascist state. Everybody has the right to gather and protest. That's just a fundamental part of democracy. If we sleepwalk into that not being a thing, then what's next? 
Kemi Alemoru: It's difficult to say whether today's demo will change anything, but I think it's important to try.
Othman: We are trying to do something and it's just so good after two years of a pandemic to get out and connect with people, to fight for the cause!

Patsy Stevenson (right) speaking at the Kill the Bill demo.

Elsa and Emmerline: "Without protest we'd be stuck in the 1800s."

Elsa and Emmerline

Elsa: It sounds obscene, but without protest we'd be stuck in the 1800s. It would be a very small amount of men who could vote [and] none of their wives – people wouldn't have any sort of liberty. I hope that we won't need to keep protesting for the right to protest.
Emmerline: But we probably will.
Elsa: It's a fascist regime that's rising up – we've seen this patten already in so many countries around the world, we can see our future in these countries and this is what I fear.
Emmerline: I actually came from a country where protest was [once] legal, but is illegal right now… I came here specifically for those legal rights but now they're being taken away, so what did I migrate for?

Jeremy Corbyn speaking outside Parliament at the Kill the Bill protest.

A row of police officers marching past Downing Street.

A young person carrying a sign that says "Can't Believe We Have to Protest For Our Right to Protest! (That's So Meta!)".

People on the Kill the Bill protest blocking the road in London.

A Kill the Bill protester carrying a sign that says "Don't Worry, This is a Work Event".

A drummer on the Kill the Bill protest.

@cbethell_photo

Tagged:

activism, Photography, Photos, Kill the Bill, Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill

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