26 March 2021 — NetPol
Activists have occupied a former police station in South London, close to where Sarah Everard was last seen, to demand the withdrawal of Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill. The group have already been served eviction papers, and are calling for people to support them. You can find them on Instagram @not.a.cop.shop.
The group have issued a public statement on their action:
We the “serious annoyance” have occupied the former Cavendish Road Police Station located 200m away from where Sarah Everard was last seen. We demand the withdrawal of ‘The Police Crime – Sentencing and Courts Bill’; an end to male violence; defunding of police and a refunding of communities. We have shouted, we have marched and we now stand as a coalition to resist this authoritarian state.
The government has announced plans for a new crackdown on the freedom to protest. Buried in the 300-page Bill are sweeping new powers to ‘tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect.’ Born out of the Home Secretary’s fury at the Black Liberation movement, and the government’s frustration with trying to contain Extinction Rebellion and HS2 protests, these draconian new laws are a threat to any protest group taking to the streets.
PROTESTS ARE NECESSARILY DISTRUPTIVE, but proposed changes to the law make it an offence to cause ‘serious annoyance’ or ‘inconvenience,’ effectively allowing the police to criminalise any public protest. THIS IS A BREACH OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND A GREAT THREAT TO POSITIVE CHANGE.
Section 4 OF the Bill proposes new anti-trespass laws, particularly affecting the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities, squatters, protestors and those with no fixed abode. It criminalises individuals who the police believe are trespassing, where at least one vehicle is present. Previously a civil matter, trespass could now result in a 3 month cage sentence and/or a fine. It could also result in the confiscation of one’s vehicle and a ban from the area for 12 months. For the GRT community, this means the loss of one’s home. Whatever reassurances the government puts out to the more ‘palatable’ trespassers, like ramblers, the language in the Bill is open to interpretation and marks the beginning of an erosion of our rights to roam and reside.
We support Netpol’s Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights which demands:
- Protections, not restrictions, for the right to protest
- A stop to the surveillance of protestors
- An end to the excessive use of force and targeting of organisers for arrest, surveillance and punishment.
We also support abolitionist demands for:
- An immediate end to stop and search
- A defunding of police with eventual abolition
- A refunding of communities that have been marginalised by white supremacist, patriarchal ableist capitalism.
Over the last few days we have faced numerous attempts at intimidation. The police have not shied away from shamelessly harming those grieving and responding to Sarah Everard’s murder and we will continue to resist their force. We will persist in enforcing our rights as squatters to occupy this empty building in political protest.
We stand together as squatters, feminist groups, Anti-fascists and Black Liberationist groups united against repression. We intend to use this space for political education as well as a rejection of land and property ownership.
In love, rage and solidarity,