Priti Patel’s anti-protest bill was postponed following an outcry over the heavy handed response of the police in breaking up a vigil in memory of Sarah Everard, murdered by one of their colleagues. But are the government planning on rethinking their approach and watering down – or removing – the sections relating to protest, or are they simply hoping that after a while we will all forget?
I was a teenager when a gang of men broke into my home, kicked down my bedroom door and screamed at me to drop the bed sheet I was holding up to cover my naked chest. They screamed and screamed at me to put my hands on my head until I was so frightened that one of them might shoot me if I didn’t obey, that after what felt like an eternity, I dropped the bed sheet and raised my hands above my head.
I could write about my experiences inside HMP Holloway but I don’t feel like I ought to write about me. Instead, I want to write about a woman I met there during my sentence, someone who could not tell her own story because she could not read or write. Her name is Bridget* I have no idea where she is today and no idea if she is even still alive. We knew each other for only a few brief weeks but I will forever remember her.
Britain prides itself on being a bastion of democracy with the intrinsic right to protest. What few realise is just how fluid the definition of ‘lawful protest’ can be. When peaceful protests threaten big business or those in power, successive British governments have brought in sweeping changes which infringe upon our rights, turning effective nonviolent protest into serious criminal offences.