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The Police Bill and the right to protest: online discussion

Placard saying 'silence is compliance'

The threats to the right to peaceful protest in the wake of the controversial Police Bill will be discussed at an online public meeting on Wednesday July 14 from 7.30pm-9pm.

Stroud District Green Party’s latest Cloud Café discussion forum will hear from speakers who are experienced in organising demonstrations and non-violent dissent.

They will talk about the practicalities of facilitating protest, will share the issues they’ve faced in planning events and their top tips for effective actions, and will discuss the potential implications of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Elizabeth Lee, coordinator of the Cloud Café events, said: “With the new Police Bill proposing new police powers and restrictions on protests, the right to peaceful protest has never been more under threat. The Bill’s vague wording could mean it is used to stamp out all dissent, and there has been a wave of ‘Kill the Bill’ protest around the country.”

The meeting is open to the public and there will be opportunities to ask questions and join the conversation. Register here to attend: https://actionnetwork.org/events/cloud-cafe-the-right-to-protest

The speakers

  • David Lambert is an Extinction Rebellion activist from Stroud who was one of a group charged with criminal damage after an action at the Shell HQ building. They were acquitted in April after successfully arguing that the damage they caused was negligible compared to the damage being caused by Shell and that they acted to save lives. Having been arrested several times, including for criminal damage and aggravated trespass, David believes that we have a right and a duty to disobey and rebel when our government is failing to protect humanity and the natural world.
  • Olympic sailor Laura Baldwin of Ocean Rebellion – Extinction Rebellion’s sea-focused campaign group – was among the hundreds of climate campaigners who protested in Cornwall on the first day of the G7 summit. They called for G7 world leaders to act immediately to honour the global climate commitments they made in Paris in 2015, and to address the climate and ecological emergency.
  • Human rights lawyer Jules Carey is head of the actions against police and state team at Bindmans. He represented a number of MPs in their challenge to the Metropolitan Police ban on Extinction Rebellion Autumn Uprising protests in London in 2019. More than 400 XR activists were arrested during the four-day ban, though charges were later dropped. Jules believes that protest is necessary to ensure that dissenting voices raising public concerns are heard by those in authority. There is a pressing need for government to react to the climate emergency and the suppression of non-violent civil disobedience must be resisted, he says. 
  • Nabeela Akhtar is an anti-racism campaigner who is involved in inclusion work with a focus on intersectionality in a number of organisations including Stroud Against Racism, which was formed last year in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Her work is about highlighting the injustices faced by racialised minorities and promoting understanding of different marginalised people, through learning, partnership and direct action.
    Nabeela has taken part in actions for multiple causes including Reclaim the Night, anti-war, Palestinian solidarity, pro-EU, and Black Lives Matter. She will give her insights into how, through the Police Bill in particular, protest is being demonised in an attempt to stop scrutiny of injustice. She will discuss the importance of effective messaging in countering the misrepresentation of people who exercise their right to protest.
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