Police response to anti-monarchy protests shows the need for Netpol’s Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights

Friday, 16 September 2022 — NetPol

There has been outrage at the arrests. But protest is not illegal!

#NotMyKing and police

There has been outrage this week at the arrests and threat of arrest of anti-monarchy protesters. However the arrests have also led to a lot of misinformation and alarmist statements about the law and our right to protest.

It’s important to remember that protest is still legal and that the recent arrests of anti-monarchists doesn’t amount to the death of protest.

Netpol has published a guide to your rights and anti-monarchy protests. However it’s worth noting that this response from the police is not new. This isn’t the first time that spurious arrests have been made during royal events. In 2011, people dressed as zombies were arrested during the royal wedding while sitting having coffee. In 2002, during the Golden Jubilee, 41 people sitting in a pub were arrested. Anytime there is a royal event, the police act disproportionately to ensure that opposing voices are not heard on our streets.

However, these incidents have highlighted, once again, that public order policing relies heavily on creating uncertainty, with the intention that this stops people from exercising their rights to protest in any way because of a fear of arrest.

But this is unlawful.

Police officers are not supposed to deny people rights protected by international human rights obligations because they feel like it – or because they do not understand the laws they are enforcing.

Advice has now been given to frontline officers on how to handle protests – but as this advice has not been published, we have no way to test whether pledges to protect and facilitate the right to freedom of protest and “balance these rights against those who wish to grieve and reflect” are genuine or completely meaningless.

This is why Netpol argues that the police should adopt the Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights: eleven guiding principles for protecting and facilitating the right to protest that emphasise minimum and proportionate interventions recommended by international human rights guidance.

As we said in our open letter to the Metropolitan Police in advance of planned environmental protests this autumn:

“All too often, protests are treated as an inconvenience to crack down on. It is time they were seen as a necessary and important element of a free, democratic society.”

This has to change.

Read: Netpol’s guide to your rights and protesting the monarchy

Read Netpol’s post – police ‘not knowing’ whether protest is permitted is deliberate – and it has to end

Justice for Chris Kaba!

There are protests happening across the UK tomorrow (Saturday 17th September) demanding #JusticeForChrisKaba.

On Monday 5th September 2022 Chris Kaba was tragically murdered at the hands of police, following a pursuit by firearm officers.

Chris was taken to hospital where he died later that night. Chris Kaba was unarmed, and no other firearms were found at the scene.

Join a local protest. If there’s not one near you, organise one in your area!Lost in the Matrix – how police surveillance is labelling anarchist ideas.

Netpol is hosting a workshop and discussion at the Anarchist Bookfair in London on Saturday 17th September (tomorrow!).

Anarchists share a belief in the abolition of the state but in practical everyday terms, that means a rejection of state institutions in favour of encouraging working-class communities to take the initiative and organise things for themselves. Anarchism as an idea is expressed through mutual aid projects, renters unions, workplace solidarity and anti-raids or police monitoring groups.

However, under the Matrix, a new classification system designed to label different ideological beliefs, Britain’s police have specifically picked out anarchist anti-state ideals as representing a high-level threat of “aggravated activism” (the new label for ‘domestic extremist’) akin to the violent racism of the far right.

It’s all extraordinarily subjective – but the latest in a long history of government propaganda seeking to demonise and criminalise anarchism and justify intrusive police surveillance.

So how do we resist it? How do we build solidarity against harassment and disruption by the police? How do we keep each other safe and – just as importantly – how do we actively celebrate anarchist principles as a genuine alternative to state violence?

Join Netpol  for a wide-ranging discussion that may not offer all the answers, but may help us start to break free of the police using their political beliefs to label ours.

Saturday 17th September, 1:30pm, Toynbee Hall, 28 Commercial Street.

Read more about the aggravated activist matrix

Support our work and donate to Netpol!

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