Mass protest against extra police powers and in support of safer streets set to take place in Northampton town centre

"This is a strictly peaceful protest to which anybody who values their human rights is invited"

Monday, 29th March 2021, 5:28 pm

A mass protest is set to take place in Northampton this Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday, April 3) involving two trending social issues that have made national news headlines this month (March).

The first social issue is the Kill The Bill movement, which opposes new laws currently making their way through parliament to give more powers to police to deal with protests, among a host of other laws.

The second cause is the Reclaim The Streets movement, which aims to make the UK's streets safer after Sarah Everard, from London, was murdered.

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The Black Lives Matter protest in Northampton last June

The event will be taking place at 1pm on Saturday outside of the BBC Northampton Radio station in Abington Street.

What is Kill The Bill protesting?

The Kill the Bill movement is against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which has proved extremely controversial, with protests against it taking place around the country.

Under current laws, police are only able to place restrictions on protests if there is a threat of “serious public disorder, serious damage to property or serious disruption to life in the community”.

However, under the new policing bill, police chiefs would be able to set noise limits and impose a start and finish time on protests - these rules would also be applicable to a protest of a single person.

Those who fail to act in accordance with police rules could be issued a £2,500 fine, and police will be able to issue punishments to those who “ought” to have known about restrictions, rather than needing to prove that protesters knew.

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What is the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill? And what do Northampton's...

What is the Reclaim the Streets movement?

Following the death of Sarah Everard earlier this month, national demonstrations against violence towards women took place across the country.

The demonstrations led to Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing tougher safety measures, including extra CCTV funding, as well as plans to introduce plain clothes police officers in bars.

Extinction Rebellion Northampton (XRN) said the new bill criminalises peaceful individuals for "simply standing against injustice".

An XRN spokesman said: “Extinction Rebellion Northampton stands in peaceful solidarity with local community groups and their right to peaceful assembly under the Human Rights Act 1998.

"We recognise that the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a deliberate attempt to remove the rights of all U.K. citizens to oppose corruption and oppression wherever it rears its head.

"This bill does not just affect those who are demanding action on climate or social justice issues, it has far wider reaching consequences that would affect union strikers, the homeless, people of colour, victims of sexual violence and everyday working people.

"This is not an Extinction Rebellion protest, nor is it organised by any one community group. This is a whole range of Northamptonshire community groups unified against the extension of police powers and the criminalisation of peaceful individuals for simply standing against injustice.

"To think that you could receive a 10-year prison sentence for “causing a nuisance”, while perpetrators of some serious violent crimes can’t even be given such long sentences is a clear attempt by the government to silence any opposition."

The spokesman went on to explain why the two causes have been combined.

They said: "The decision was made by local groups to combine the Reclaim The Streets and Kill The Bill protests to highlight that this bill gives no mention of tackling the epidemic of violence against women - an issue recently brought to the media forefront after disgraceful scenes from the Metropolitan Police at the Sarah Everard vigil in London.

"Northamptonshire Police’s own history of lacking swift justice for women who are victims of abuse is a much discussed talking point among local rights groups and we believe that these failings need to be investigated and dealt with immediately.

"This is a strictly peaceful protest to which anybody who values their human rights is invited, anyone looking to engage in violent acts is not welcome to attend."

Northamptonshire Police have been contacted for comment.