The massive reaction against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (which gives the police more powers to curb any kind protests and rallies) in fact merges in solidarity many and diverse movements as it puts into question the definition itself of right to protest: Black Lives Matter, Sisters Uncut, Extinction rebellion, Stand up to Racism, plus Socialists and Corbynites (former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the rally in London).
It is not by chance that all those who silently watch us from behind screens and cameras push to limit civil rights after such a dangerous pandemic which impoverished people, exposed not only the poorest, but also the middle class to unemployment, eviction, debt, uncertainty of the future, undermined families with many not able to afford food, hit the hardest those who cannot afford to live alone and catch the virus in crowded houses: the virus exposed the roots and the wide extent of social injustice.
In the wake of all this it is clear that the establishment expected more and more rallies against racism, marginalisation, violence against women, unemployment, right to education, work and affordable housing.
The idea of the shameful Bill started during the Covid crisis with the intent to ‘tackle’ the merger of movements for social justice and prevent riots. It is in fact a preventive criminalisation of protests disguised as protection of those the Home Office defined as “silent majority”.
“These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard, but will prevent large scale disruption enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives.” Home Office spokesman said to the Guardian today while rallies were being held in London, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Cambridge, Sheffield and Edinburgh.
Tactical wording from the Home Office is aimed at diminishing the representativeness and the influence of rallies and social movements in order to pass the false perception that those who have the strength, will and courage to take to the street to challenge the government and defend the rights of us all are just a tiny minority which have to keep the voice down.
They did not succeed in doing that so far, but the Bill is a serious intimidation which could silence the majority.