Ahead of todays national day of action, Stroud Green Party organised a protest against the government’s draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill outside the office of Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie.
This Friday, 14th January, campaigners gathered outside Siobhan Baillie’s office in Kings St Stroud to deliver a letter to her outlining their opposition to the PCSC Bill. The Bill comes as part of a raft of authoritarian and anti-democratic legislation being pushed through Parliament by the government.
Finding the office unexpectedly closed, the letter was taped to Baillie’s office door instead. The action was organised by Stroud District Green Party and was joined by dozens of protesters from the Labour Party and from organisations including Amnesty International and Extinction Rebellion, and supported by Stroud Red Band.
The campaigners say the Bill criminalises peaceful protest and the letter calls on Baillie to stand up for this fundamental democratic right. This is not the first time that Stroud residents have protested against this Bill, with campaigners raising Banners in Stroud town centre last March to highlight the impact that the Bill would have.
The Bill reached the House of Lords this week, and crucial votes on amendments will culminate next Monday (17 January).
Speaking at the demo, Stroud District Green Party co-coordinator Martin Whiteside said the “outrageous” Bill would outlaw any protest that causes ‘serious annoyance’, which could mean placards, banners and loudhailers banned. “The bill clearly contravenes the Human Rights Act, which protects our right to protest.”
Moreover, it would make the Roma and gypsy way of life illegal by turning trespass from a civil offence to a crime. “Police will be able to confiscate the homes of gypsies, Roma and travellers and imprison them for up to three months if they stop in the wrong places,” he said. “This is a deliberate attack on a vulnerable minority.”
Cllr Catherine Braun, leader of the Green Group on Stroud District Council, then spoke, saying: “We want to say loudly and clearly that we do not want our historic right to protest to become a crime. This Bill would remove some of our most basic rights and freedoms and enable the government to turn the UK into a police state. It represents an enormous extension of policing powers that would give the police and government the power to ban peaceful protest.”
For information on the governments full legislative program and how to fight it, read this gal-dem guide here and find more information on the national Kill The Bill protests today, Saturday 15th, here.