By Isabel Ringrose and Sam Ord
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2788

Thousands march to kill the police bill and other Tory attacks

If the police bill passes it will be crucial to defy its repressive measures
Issue 2788
Dense crowd with banner "We will not be silenced"

Opposition to the police bill on the streets of London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Some 5,000 protesters took to the streets of central London on Saturday for a Kill the Bill protest. 

The Tories’ brutal Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts bill is currently in the House of Lords. If it passes through the Lords, it only requires royal assent to become law. 

Activists were also marching against the racist Nationality and Borders Bill, which is also in the House of Lords. 

Marchers linked the Tories’ hypocrisy and Boris Johnson’s multiple parties with the fight against the bill—branding him a “liar”. 

Protester Ellie told Socialist Worker that she’s determined to fight to “kill the bill”. 

“We have to keep fighting until the end, and make it clear that we don’t accept this bill. It’s not just protesting that’s at risk, it’s people’s rights too,” she said.

Jack added that without protest movements opposition to the Tories’ divisive strategy will be weakened with the new laws. 

“Stopping people from having a voice means the Tories can get away with whatever they want,“ he said. “How can we put pressure on and demand change when they take our voices away?”

Jack also pointed to the importance of the Colston Four victory. “It’s great that those activists were found not guilty. Hopefully it’ll give people confidence to resist,” he said.

The march, organised by a coalition of Black Lives Matter groups and Extinction Rebellion, met in Lincoln’s Inn fields, and marched to Parliament Square. 

It had the biggest impact when it hit Strand—a central road in London—and disrupted traffic. 

Protesters made a determined effort to be noisy, annoying and to cause a disturbance—all acts that could be illegal if the bill passes. The march felt angriest when people took over the chanting and hit Whitehall. 

Chants included, “No justice, no peace”, “Kill, kill, kill the bill”, “Acab all cops are bastards,” and, “Tories out.”

Dense crowd of protesters with placards against Boris Johnson

Protesters linked the bill to Johnson’s crimes (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The presence of climate activists, anti-racists, trans rights activists, pro-Palestinian groups and many others show that the bill has brought together a wide range of groups. 

Placards read, “Protesting for the right to protest”, “Protect people not statues,” “It’s one rule for them,” and, “Put the pigs back in their pens.” 

There can be no reliance on the House of Lords to beat the bill. It needs to be defied if it passes. The movement gathered during the campaign has to support whoever becomes the bill’s target.

There were very few trade union branches on Saturday’s march in London.

Liz Wheatley, branch secretary of Camden Unison union branch, was on the march with a banner because as a trade unionists she opposes both the police bill and the borders bill. 

“The Tories are organising an attack on working class people,” she said. They target right to protest, the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community and the rights of refugees. 

“We have to organise resistances and get trade unions involved against both bills.”

Liz’s message to trade unionists who weren’t on the demo was “get involved”.

Other protests included several thousand on a Kill The Bill protest in Bristol, over 1,000 on a Kill The Bill protest in Manchester and 200 in Nottingham on a demonstration calling for Tories Out plus opposition to the police bill and the borders bill.

There were 250 on a Kill The Bill protest in Cardiff, and 150 in Plymouth and Colchester against the police bill. Other protests took place in Stoke, Brighton, Lowestoft and Newcastle.

In Exeter, Dave Clinch reports, “About 250 people gathered at Bedford Square for a Kill the Bill demonstration organised by a coalition of groups including Stop the War, Amnesty, the RMT union and the SWP. 

“There were eloquent and passionate speeches, including several from young people about the curbs on the right to protest and the general attack on our civil liberties planned by this government in the police bill and also the nationality and borders bill. 

“Another demonstration has been set for Saturday 19 February in Bedford Square from 11.30am.”

In Huddersfield, reports Roger Keely,  “a demonstration of about 80 took place against the police bill.  It was mostly organised by Huddersfield Friends of the Earth, Amnesty and Green Party supporters but supported by a fair number of socialists and trade unionists too.

“Speakers emphasised the threat to Gypsy. Roma and Traveller people, climate campaigns and the BLM campaign to bring down statues.”

30 people outside Downing Street with large banner "Johnson must go, he lied while thousands died"

Protesters called for Boris Johnson and the Tories to go (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Meanwhile a group of people descended on Downing Street in central London to demand the resignation of disgraced prime minister, Boris Johnson.

The emergency protest, called by People Before Profit, comes off the back of a multidimensional crisis facing Johnson.

Protester Carol, a member of the RMT union, told Socialist Worker, “On 20 May when Boris was partying, I was at home speaking to my friend on the phone.

“She lost her mother and brother and couldn’t go to her mum’s funeral as it was in Spain.”

Carol added that even if Johnson goes the fight must continue and “we need more unity” to kick all the Tories out.

Camden and Soas Unison members attended and supported the demonstration, along with Islington and Ealing NEU. 

Protest organisers demanded that all Covid-19 related fines were recalled and outlined the hypocrisy of the Metropolitan police who refuse to investigate the parties.

Sian, an activist from west London told Socialist Worker, “I’m so sick of Boris Johnson, prince Andrew and the whole state.

“With Keir Starmer there’s no opposition—I’m incredibly pissed off at Labour, but protesters aren’t hopeless, we represent millions of angry people,” she added.

The angriest resistance possible is what is needed to beat the Tories. 

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