Protests against anti-freedom of speech laws and in solidarity with Palestinians combine
Kill the Bill Official has called for a fourth national day of action this Saturday 29 May and expects to see increased national action as the movement grows. In London, the protest will be attended by former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn who will be speaking at the event.
This date was chosen by the organisation to coincide closely with the 1-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. The Black Lives Matter movement sparked in the US, UK and elsewhere by his death is, as the government has stated, part of the reason why the Tories are attempting to take such draconian steps towards restricting peaceful protest and muzzling the UK’s democracy.
The anti-Black racism in the UK is still rife: UN independent human rights experts accused the recently-released Sewell report of trying to “normalize white supremacy” and the experts also condemned the reports attempts to explain away racial disparities in the report as results of individual circumstance whilst ignoring the wider role society plays in perpetuating these disparities.
The UK government was also one of only twelve to vote against a UN resolution to fight racial discrimination.
This racial inequality is a huge part of what brought huge crowds of protesters onto the streets last summer to protest the murder of George Floyd. This was not only an act of international solidarity: there are very real reasons why those of African descent living in the UK are rightly outraged.
Marvina Eseoghene Newton of Kill the Bill Official has said:
Protest is a way for people to make themselves heard in a society that refuses to listen. Marginalised communities do not protest out of choice but out of necessity. If the government took steps to build a just and equitable society for everyone there would be no need for us to take to the streets and demand it. The passing of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill will criminalise and further disenfranchise the most vulnerable in our society including Black people, GRT communities and others who dare to speak out.
However, the Queen’s speech earlier this month showed that the government’s plans with only worsen this injustice and inequity. Many of the areas highlighted in the speech are deeply troubling, including new migration laws seeking to block refugees, culture war issues like freedom of speech and, of course, the authoritarian PCSC Bill. As always, the rights of ordinary people are not granted by the powerful but have to be won through action, solidarity, and resistance.
Another act which has sparked an outpouring of international solidarity and resistance in the UK is the recent war in Gaza and the violence suffered by the people of Palestine. More Palestinian families are being evicted from their homes in Jerusalem and the Israeli military has bombed civilian homes in Gaza, often giving families mere minutes notice before they decided to strike. Hundreds of civilians, including many children, have been killed. Even after a nominal ceasefire, the Al Aqsa mosque was again raided.
Last Saturday huge numbers of people took to the streets in London and elsewhere to protest these ongoing human rights abuses. According to news sources more than 150,000 people gathered in London to protest in a landmark act of solidarity. Kill the Bill Official and United for Black Lives supported the protest; Delia Mattis, and organiser from both groups, spoke at the event saying:
The scenes we have seen from Palestine are truly horrific and show a complete disregard for human life and an othering of an entire people. This is the logical conclusion of colonialization which we have seen across the globe many times before, often perpetrated by the UK. The support which has poured out of this country has been truly amazing to see. We stand united with the people of Palestine in their
struggle and commend all of the protesters that took to the streets. If the government has their way speaking out against such events will soon be punishable by a hefty fine or prison sentence. We cannot let the PCSC Bill come between us and solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also sent a message to those who support the protesters’ aims:
Increasing authoritarianism verging on fascism in the UK makes it clear that here as well as across the globe, citizens need to come together to fight for our human rights and in some cases their right to exist. Protesters rightly say that the fact that these rights are not and never have been freely given should be at the forefront of our minds as these events unfold and that taking action is essential.
If you are unable to attend a physical event or would like to further educate yourselves on the Black Struggle Kill the Bill Official please follow our social media pages and post the hashtag #KilltheBill.
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