Southsea protest: Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion and Reclaim These Streets unite in Portsmouth to #KillTheBill
PROTEST groups fighting for equality, the environment and legislative change have all banded together under a single banner for the first time – and are hoping to become the ‘government’s worst nightmare’.
They are fighting the government’s proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that would see additional powers granted to the police to enforce conditions on protests.
The new laws were proposed after the violent clashes between police and protesters in Bristol last month, following the death of Sarah Everard in London.
But those who are fighting on the front lines for change say this bill is a direct attack on both democracy and the equality they are striving to bring about.
In response a #KillTheBill protest was organised at The Bandstand in Southsea on Saturday, April 17, uniting protest groups from across Portsmouth.
Black Lives Matter, Extinction Rebellion, Stand Up To Racism, Reclaim These Streets, Unite and more have all joined forces in a bid to get the proposed legislation reversed.
Selma Heimedinger from Extinction Rebellion said: ‘This bill would make a huge difference, so it’s really important that we are united in our cause.
‘It is a direct assault on us and Black Lives Matter, because it allows the police to end any protest that they deem to be loud or disruptive.
‘The whole point of a protest is to be loud and disruptive – without that we might as well just have a picnic instead.’
Selma added that she was ‘pleased’ to see Portsmouth’s various protest groups working collectively, and is optimistic that this coalition will continue.
Roughly 100 people could be seen at the socially-distanced protest, which saw various speakers take to the stage, while others stood or sat on the grass verges holding placards.
Mariam Black, co-leader of the Black Lives Matter movement in Portsmouth, says the government must rethink its strategy.
She said: ‘This bill impacts every protest group out there, it’s an attack on democracy and everything we stand for.
‘We bring about change through protesting – as a country we always have.
‘What’s more, the fact that I could be imprisoned for more time than a convicted rapist, simply for protesting, is absolutely disgusting.’
The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has since been pushed back for parliamentary debate, would also double the maximum sentence for low-level assault on emergency workers and allow judges to impose life sentences on child murderers.