Watch as 'Kill the Bill' protesters take to streets of Northampton
"It's scary and I think the people need to take it seriously"
Police say around 70 people turned up to a protest in Northampton town centre today (Saturday, April 3) to demonstrate against extra powers for the police and in support of safer streets for women.
The protesters met up outside BBC Radio Northampton in Abington Street at 1pm where speakers touched on the importance of protesting against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and for safer streets following the death of Sarah Everard.
The demonstration made its way down St Giles Street, past the All Saints Church, up Abington Street, up Wellingborugh Road and then to Abington Park. It was followed by a small police escort to make sure protesters were able to walk down the roads safely.
Kevin Johnstone said: "Protest is a fundamental basic of democracy, you take that away you take away democracy. The government has given us countless things to protest against and now they want to take away our right to protest.
"This is happening all across the country. This isn't just a local issue, it's a national issue, and a global issue. Undemocratic regimes are clamping down on civil right all over the world, we can't let it happen here.
"We're supposed to be a bastion of civil rights in this country but right now we have an extremely right-wing government and they can't be allowed to get away with this nonsense."
Kevin added: "It's going peacefully, which is how we like it."
David Pearson, from Weston Favell, said: "I'm here because the government wants to take away our right to peaceful, disruptive protest. We are opposed to violent protest, that is illegal, and it should be.
"But peaceful protest that is not disruptive is ineffective, the government could just ignore it all day long. So what we need is our current right to peaceful, disruptive protest but the government is planning to take that away with this bill, so that's why we are protesting.
"Peaceful, disruptive protest has brought us a wide range of social benefits including things like votes for men, thanks to the chartists, votes for women, thanks to the suffragettes, labour rights, disability rights, animal rights, climate justice, there are all sorts of good things happening in our society because people have been able to have disruptive protests.
"We will lose our ability to improve our society through protest if it is banned."
Mr Pearson also responded to those who condemn the current protests and any disruption caused by demonstrations.
He said: "Their day to day lives are going to be disrupted by, for example, Climate Change, so you have to balance the small amount of disruption now with the huge amount of disruption that you will have in the future. Protesting against Climate Change is one of the ways in which we can save ourselves."
Another protester, Pat Markey, said: It's important that people are aware of what's going on and that they continue to make their voices heard against the potential suppression of our rights. It's important. Protesting is an important part of being in a democratic society.
"It's important to make the point and have the right to do so. Sometimes making points and protesting does involve inconveniences for others, but that is part of being in a democracy. If it involves small disruptions then it is a price worth paying."
Jocasta Davis said: "It's incredibly important [protesting], it's my future, it's my nieces future, if I want to have a family it's their future. It's everything. It's scary and I think the people need to take it seriously.
"Sarah Everard is just one of many violent actions against women that we have seen countless times. There are so many stories coming out at the moment against the police, and it's [police force] not working. They are inherently violent and we need to come up with a better solution."
Jocasta's mother, Donna Davis, said: "For me this [bill] would be the last nail in the coffin. We should be able to demonstrate peacefully. The 3.5% rule and peaceful protests is what has had more success than any violent conflict. I'm hopeful that it won't go through."
After the protest, Northamptonshire Police said: "We can confirm today’s protest has concluded without incident. After moving from the town centre, up Wellingborough Road, the event ended with a gathering at Abington Park. Participants observed social distancing while exercising their lawful right to protest."