The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC) due to be debated and voted on in the House of Commons this week presents perhaps the gravest threat to civil liberties in more than a generation. It must be opposed at all costs, in parliament and on the streets.
The Coronavirus Act 2020 gave police wide-ranging and ill-defined powers to crackdown on nonviolent protest. During the past year, police forces have shown that they cannot be trusted with such drastic powers. Using the Act security forces have already critically limited freedoms of assembly and association, with women, people of colour, the working class and other structurally oppressed groups being disproportionately harmed.
The police’s violent handling of social movement demonstrations, such as Black Lives Matter and recent feminist demonstrations, have shown that the police must not be vested with more power.
And yet that is exactly what this bill does: it criminalises an extraordinary range of actions, on the grounds that they put people “at risk” of suffering “severe annoyance”; it introduces shocking 10 year sentences for demonstrators; it oppresses marginalised people including Gypsy, Roma & Traveller communities; these are just a few examples.
Upholding freedoms of assembly and association is a duty of all progressives everywhere. Trade unionists know from experience that police violence is disproportionately inflicted on working class people, whether in their communities or on the picket line.
We stand in solidarity with all victims of state violence and call on all MPs to oppose this bill. We call on all Green Party members and trade unionists who are able to contact their MPs and demonstrate publicly against this bill.