As demonstrations, protests and strikes against austerity become more common, there are even more horrific policing tactics in the pipeline. The Independent recently revealed that, in London, the use of rubber bullets has been authorized 22 times in the last year. Scotland Yard is also considering making water cannon and Taser stun guns more easily accessible for the police.
This is on top of some of the most draconian laws already in place which are set to get even worse were a person will be banned from a particular area for 48 hours if deemed to be acting suspiciously. This would obviously consist of protesting politically and against the cuts most notably. With the treatment of protesters over the last few years this doesn’t bode at all well for the future of the right to protest.
I am not even sure we do have the right to protest or if we ever had it it is a debate in itself. But it is perceived that we do and people generally can but further tightening of these oppressive laws will only increase as demonstrations increase and people’s anger deepens.
We must remain vigilant to police violence and attempts to deter students, workers and anti cuts campaigners from protesting in a mass form. As this week the TUC has announced its second mass demonstration for the 20th of October it will be key that we defend this right and our right to distribute our own material and offer those on the demonstration the chance to take a leaflet and more information on how we can fight the cuts. But fundamentally protesting is something which will become increasingly more popular as this crisis in capitalism deepens. This was shown when one of the people of the year given out by one of the national newspapers gave the person of the year to the year of the protester in 2011. I can only see this trend continuing and as more and more layers of the class get drawn into the movement we need to defend their rights to organize and to protest peacefully.
We say as the socialist party:
• Build a mass campaign in defense of civil and democratic rights! Defend the right to protest
• Scrap the anti-trade union laws, defend the right to strike
• Stop victimization of protesters by the police and in the courts
• Repeal all the draconian 'anti-terror' legislation and stop new repressive powers
• For the election of judges and the right to trial by jury
• For the police to be under the control of, and accountable to, the communities they serve. For trade union rights for the police