Sustainable Hackney probably doesn’t have any members who support Priti Patel’s Police Crime Sentencing and Courts bill but, for the record, here’s some reasons for opposing it.

Our first tweet about the bill was from Drill not Drop. They recognized that anti-fracking protests like those at Horse Hill, Surrey will be hit if this becomes law. Fracking of course, is not only restricted to the ‘desolate north-east’, but on our backyard, only thirty miles south of Hackney

Other blogs show our distaste for plastic lawns, the plastic waste discarded on the marshes or floating down the Lea. We should remember that if demonstrating against fracking is stopped this will facilitate the plastics boom which shale gas is used for.

Defenders of the environment justifiably feel under attack from this law. Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner made this explicit by making  Extinction Rebellion (XR) an example of those it targets. The Daily Mail reportedly was told by a Home Office source about the need to tackle protests by “crusty eco-crusaders”, saying “Disruption caused by some lefty protests has exposed an emerging threat to our way of life, our economy and the livelihoods of the hard working majority.”

So it is not surprising that the thousands of kill the bill rallies around Britain have been in large part made up of activists, young and old, who don’t fit into this crude stereotype,  but who are concerned about the bill stifling and muzzling  legitimate climate protest 

The Public Order Act 1986, passed after the miners' strike, has already given the police powers to restrict demonstrations thought to risk “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to the life of the community”. The new bill, however, goes a step further and lets the home secretary “make provision about the meaning” of the phrase “serious disruption”, this allows our home secretary to dispense with the niceties of parliamentary debate and use “statutory instruments” with virtually no scrutiny.

But of course this bill is not just an attack on environmental protest. It’s an attack on all and every form of protest and narrows our freedoms in an increasingly authoritarian democracy. The bill’s singling out of ‘noise making’ and ‘inconvenience’ as actions that will incur punishment is effectively gagging all protest.  It includes, too , a new trespass offence that turns it from a civil law to a criminal offence. This will impact again on environmental direct action and will be used to jail Gypsy, Roma and Traveller groups.  Police powers of stop and search are also to be extended while in Hackney a steep rise has only led to less offenders being caught and generated probably more antipathy to the police.

The ‘Geffrye must fall’ campaign has yet to achieve the result, a poll shows the community wants, namely to rid the Museum of the Home of its visible association with slavery, But in the bill we find it specifically includes raising the maximum penalty for criminal damage to a memorial from three months to 10 years.

Injustice on all fronts isn’t going away but this bill intends to stifle and outlaw our response to these. The number of demonstrations across the country has been huge and shows no sign of going away either until the government kill the bill.     

Sign the petition:

Support the demonstrations: They will increase towards September when the bill goes to the House of Lords

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