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April 13, 2014
April 13, 2014

UK: The criminalisation of anti-fascist protest

Author: The Guardian
Source: The Guardian  Category: Antifascism
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UK: The criminalisation of anti-fascist protest

Tomorrow, 14 April, the Metropolitan police and CPS will prosecute five anti-fascists arrested on 1 June 2013 while trying to stop the British National party from marching on the Cenotaph. Police decided the anti-fascist protest was a “threat to public safety” and imposed a dispersal order under section 12 of the Public Order Act 1986; 59 people were arrested. A few months later 286 protesters against the English Defence League, which had declared its intention to march on a park named after Altab Ali, who was murdered in a racist attack, were arrested in Tower Hamlets.

In both cases those arrested were put on bail conditions banning them from attending future anti-fascist protests. Yet of the 345 arrested overall, only seven have been charged. In both cases these tactics appear designed not to safeguard the public, but to gather information on protesters and deter people from joining protest movements. UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai, for example, recently reported that the threshold for using section 12 and 14 was “too low” and presented a threat to the right to protest.

The electoral gains of fascist parties in France and Hungary are a warning of the continuing threat of the far right across Europe. In Britain, protest has played a vital role isolating groups like the BNP and EDL. We are therefore deeply concerned at how the Public Order Act is being used to criminalise protest in general and anti-fascist protest in particular. We support the five anti-fascist protesters and call for a proper accounting of the police tactics, including mass arrests, that have been utilised on these two protests.

Daniel Trilling Author, Bloody Nasty People – The Rise of Britain’s Far RightDr Jim Wolfreys Co-author, The Politics of Racism in France, Hannah Dee Defend the Right to ProtestDarcus Howe Broadcaster, Glenroy Watson Black Solidarity Committee, RMT, Zita Holbourne PCS NEC and Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Brian Richardson Assistant secretary, Unite Against Fascism, Mark Serwotka General secretary, PCS, Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU, Caroline Lucas MP, John McDonnell MP, Nina Power Author, Laurie Penny Journalist, Nadine El-Enany Law lecturer, Birkbeck, University of LondonTrenton Oldfield Boat race protester, Susan Matthews Mother of Alfie Meadows

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1 Comment

  1. John Anstie 2014/04/28 at 16:32

    I am less interested in an account of police tactics than I am in an account by those whose instructions they follow i.e. their political masters.

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