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 Right to protest

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Number of posts : 62
Age : 47
Location : Solihull, England
Registration date : 2008-07-21

PostSubject: Right to protest   Tue Jul 22, 2008 5:15 am

With the implementation of various laws in the 80's and 90's, many people believe that the right to protest in the UK has been taken away from it's citizens. Do you think that you still have the right to protest if you don't agree with something? Have you run into problems when you have tried to exercise your right to protest? Should protesters be automatically arrested? Is it right or wrong to protest? If you believe it is wrong, what should people do instead?

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Number of posts : 102
Age : 47
Location : Birmingham, UK
Registration date : 2008-07-23

PostSubject: Re: Right to protest   Thu Jul 24, 2008 8:42 am

In the 1970's the government had problems with the unions striking, and in the 1980's Thatcher had problems with the Miners striking, people protesting about the Poll tax and people rioting in many cities in the UK.

In response to these demonstrations and protest, she passed legislation removing many of the rights of citizens to protest - something that had always been taken for granted as a basic right in this country. From that point on, anyone protesting without asking permission from the council and the police in advance, and paying for any police presence needed to patrol the protest, would be arrested for causing a "breach of the peace". Few people know about this, and it is still denied in official circles when questioned, but it remains the fact.

As a consequence of this loss of the ability of people to properly protest if they were unhappy with the government, the government began to feel more able to pass more unpopular legislation because no one would protest against it. As time went by, fewer and fewer people tried to protest and just gave up on trying to voice their opposition to whatever the government did.

When the government got involved in the Iraq war, this was so unpopular with the people that several million people all protested at once, but still the government ignored them. This seemed to destroy the last of the resistance of people to be bothered to do anything anymore.

Now, even if anyone can be bothered to protest about anything, it is more likely than not that all that will happen is that they will be arrested and get a criminal record with breach of the peace.

How do I know this? Simple... I tried to mount a one-man, sit-down, silent protest about the Iraq war when it first started. I was very careful not to be yelling slogans, but to sit quietly, out of the way of the main thoroughfare, so that I wasn't making any obstruction or bothering anyone unless they actually chose to walk over to me to take notice of my protest. As the hours went by, several police men came up to me at various intervals, each saying that they were just checking up on me and that I was ok to stay there if I wanted to. However, the next morning, two police officers approached me, apologised to me for having to do this but insisted that they were under direct instructions from their chief to remove me and my protest, arrest me for breach of the peace (despite the fact that several other police officers had said that I was ok with what I was doing) and take me to the police station. They explained that they didn't like having to do so, but they had been instructed to do so because their boss wasn't happy about the embarrassment I was causing to the council and they wanted all protests taken off the streets ASAP.

Nowadays any protest is frowned upon as a waste of time, as the government won't listen anyway and protesters are simply dismissed as trouble makers and not to be taken seriously. This is a real shame because this country used to take pride in the fact that we were free to protest if we didn't like something and that the government would listen to the people if they did. We have become a beaten down, apathetic, under-the-thumb people that deserve what we get - a government that doesn't listen to the people and couldn't care less if people don't like what they do.
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Number of posts : 34
Registration date : 2008-07-22

PostSubject: Re: Right to protest   Sat Aug 09, 2008 9:27 pm

Technically, I think we can still protest but whether they listen is another matter lol. Sometimes it is just a pure waste of time and energy.
What is quite annoying is that people talk and whinge about things but then never do anything about them. If EVERYONE stood up to them in unity, they would then have to listen but people are either too scared or too lazy to so it will never be solved that way.
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Number of posts : 56
Location : Birmingham
Registration date : 2008-08-19

PostSubject: Re: Right to protest   Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:50 pm

I went on the last major May Day protest in London, in 2002 (or 2003?). The main anarchist meeting point was at High Holborn, which is a funny-shaped junction with three or four roads coming off it. The plan was to march from there to Trafalgar Square, joining up with other protestors on the way. There were about 150 people waiting around, with the organisers dressed conspicuosly in black overalls with scarves over their faces. We were waiting for them to say when we'd move off, but it soon became apparent that the police were increasing in number and blocking off all the roads. Before we knew it, the police announced that none of us could leave the area. I remember one of them saying "you're on this demo whether you like it or not"! Some of the black-clad anarchists tried to 'surge', only to get blocked and pushed back by the lines of police. One of the protestors fell against some railings and must have hit his head because he seemed to have some kind of fit. Eventually, the police announced that we would all move off towards Trafalgar Square. This we did, still corralled in by police, and unable to get through the circle they had formed around us. Throughout, many of us (myself included) felt quite uneasy, although I'm sure plenty of others enjoyed the confrontation. When we reached Trafalgar Square we realised that the corall would probably get broken up when it met the rest of the demonstrators. So, in the confusion, myself and my comrades headed straight to the nearest pub! Since then, I don't think there's been a large scale May Day demo, presumably because the police tactics scared many people off.
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