Hundreds of citizens assembled on Lemon Quay to protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which was voted through at the second reading stage on Tuesday, March 16. The protesters marched on the streets of Truro despite the COVID-19 lockdown rules and other COVID-19 restriction measures.
They claimed that the new policy bill was going to deny people the right to protest.
The bill will now move to the committee stage after it was passed with a majority of 359 votes against 263 who opposed it. The bill clause and any other amendment on the bill will be debated at this stage. It suggests a variety of drastic changes to sentencing and enforcement in England as well as in Wales.
The bill gives the Home Secretary powers to come up with laws that can define serious disruption to organisations and communities. The police forces can then use this law to impose certain conditions on protests. This has been described by many citizens as a clampdown on peaceful protests.
Many protesters carried placards that said ”It is Our Right to Protest” and ”Kill the Bill”. They said the bill will enshrine and add the emergency powers that have been granted to the police during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also said that they believe the bill was specifically introduced to clamp down on Black Lives Matter and the Extinction Rebellion.
The protest against the Bill came after the Metropolitan Police arrested women who were protesting against violence against women. A Metropolitan Police Office was prosecuted and charged with the murder of Sarah Everard, a woman based in London.
One of the members of the Extinction Rebellion Falmouth, Zoe Young, said ”It’s slipping into authoritarianism ever faster, the idea that you could receive ten years in jail for peaceful protest takes the UK out of the realms of liberal democracy and into the realms of autocracy and dictatorship”.