Protesters gathered for a “Kill the Bill” demonstration outside Cambridge Police Station this afternoon (March 27) – and criticised violent scenes in Bristol.
The protest saw some demonstrators climb onto the roof of the police station’s entrance to hold up banners and signs.
Around 60 protesters gathered at the station to demonstrate against the controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The bill would give police more power to impose conditions on how long protests could last and how much noise they would be allowed to make, with those convicted of breaches liable to fines or jail terms.
Officials say the measures will simply allow police to oversee so-called static protests in the same way they already police marches – but critics are not convinced.
One protester, who asked to remain unnamed, said today: “I don’t want any of my rights to be taken away from me by this government. They seem to be chipping away people’s rights, whether it’s immigration, sexist attacks, racist attacks.
“The scenes we have been seeing in Clapham Common and in Bristol, it’s absolutely sickening the way police are attacking protesters. We can’t carry on like this. The harder they try to clamp down, the harder we are going to fight back.”
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Joe, another protester who didn’t want his last name published, said: “This bill in my lifetime is the biggest step that the government has made into an authoritarian state. It restricts protests that I have taken part in in the past. If we don’t protest, they have won.”
Joey Hill, another protester, added: “We are protesting the fact they are trying to take away our right to protest. It’s basically saying we are not allowed to have our civil liberties of freedom of speech.
“One of the key things to remember is things like gay rights and the suffragettes have all come about from protesting. That’s how we create change. We want to try to rally people together. We’re not trying to hurt anyone – we’re trying to protect people’s rights.”
The “Kill the Bill” protest in Cambridge took place alongside several similar demonstrations across the country.
Protesters have clashed with police in Bristol during such protests, three of which have taken place in the city over the last week.
Further violence erupted at the third Kill the Bill demonstration in Bristol on Friday (March 26), with 10 arrests made following what police called unacceptable “violent conduct”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson branded the violence towards police as “disgraceful” and said that police and the city had his full support.
There is support for the changes in the bill in government.
The steps have been taken after police chiefs such as Dame Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police commissioner voiced frustration that they could not do more to lessen the impact of Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in 2019.
The Government, in its document online outlining the powers in the bill, states: “The measures in the bill will allow the police to take a more proactive approach in managing highly disruptive protests causing serious disruption to the public.
“Provisions in the bill will: widen the range of conditions that the police can impose on static protests, to match existing police powers to impose conditions on marches.
“This measure will enable the police to impose conditions such as start and finish times and maximum noise levels on static protests. The police already have the power to impose such conditions on marches.”