It sounds like a movie name, but it’s the slogan of a British movement against increasing police powers that ended in conflict this weekend in Bristol (West England). In Portuguese, “kill the bill” means “kill the bill”.
A protest that brought together around 3,000 people in central London turned into an uproar when around 500 stoned a police station, ravaged and burned police cars and attacked police officers. At least 20 police officers were injured, including 2 hospitalized. Seven assailants were arrested.
It was the second recent clash between protesters and police to end the violence this month.
The previous Saturday the signal had been changed – police cracked down harshly on a South London tribute to Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman kidnapped and killed on her way home at night. Protesters were run over and handcuffed, in scenes Prime Minister Boris Johnson called “disturbing”.
The south London event had a different motivation than Bristol – it called for more safety for women – and the conflicts also had a different cause – meetings are prohibited by restrictions against Covid-19 – but the Police attitude in cracking down on demonstrators raised the temperature of the “Kill Bill” movement.
More gunpowder was added by the fact that a policeman is considered the prime suspect in Everard’s death. “It is obvious that we must not give more power to the police,” say the activists who want to overturn the law on the police, the crime, the conviction and the court.
Presented by Boris Johnson’s government in Parliament last Tuesday (16), the proposal increases the powers of the police to limit protests. It allows him, for example, to define the duration of vigils or acts that do not involve marches (marches may already have schedules determined by the government) or to interrupt those which make noise deemed unacceptable.
The criteria for defining when the protests cause “serious disturbance” would be established by the Interior Ministry (responsible for security), without going through the legislature, which is seen as an excessive concentration of power by those who do not. oppose the project – more than 150 entities have signed manifestos against the text.
Human rights organizations say, however, that the Conservative Party is taking advantage of the health emergency caused by the pandemic to curtail civil liberties in the country. One of the examples mentioned is that the draft sets a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for anyone damaging a statue, which is double the amount foreseen for sexual assaults against women.
Boris Johnson’s government says the law in force in 1986 does not have enough tools to prevent damage from demonstrations the Home Office deems abusive, such as those by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion and the anti-racist movement Black Lives Matter.
Following the growth of the ‘Kill the Bill’ movement, the British Labor Party, opposed to the Boris government, criticized the proposal, saying the measures were ill-thought out, endangered freedom of expression and should not be rushed. by.
The Bristol clashes, however, have scratched the image of the campaign against the bill. In a statement after the unrest, Bristol Mayor O Marvin Rees said that instead of hampering government plans to concentrate police powers, “demonstration of illegality” would be used as an argument. in favor of the need to tighten up the legislation.
Home Secretary Priti Patel took the opportunity to declare on a social network that “banditry and disorder” would not be tolerated, and her counterpart in the Labor parallel government, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said on a social network that “There is no excuse for this violence” and offered his solidarity to the injured police officers.
Boris’ security plans will be the subject of a hearing by Patel on Monday afternoon in the British Parliament. At the same time, the government is studying to ease restrictions on protests imposed by the rules to contain the coronavirus pandemic, to reduce tensions and opposition to its bill.
Under current restrictions, open meetings are prohibited and can result in fines ranging from £ 200 (R $ 1,600) to £ 2,400 (R $ 50,000) – for repeat offenses.
The protests in the UK come three months after a similar movement took to the streets in France, against police violence and a security bill that protesters said threatened civil liberties.