Protesters take to Windmill Hill as objections to new policing bill continue
- Credit: Supplied
Protesters took to Hitchin's Windmill Hill over the weekend, as national objections to the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill continue.
A small group of demonstrators gathered on Windmill Hill on Saturday, March 20 in an attempt to push back against a new set of legislation that could restrict "highly disruptive" non-violent protests in the future.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 16 with 359 ayes and 263 noes.
Should the bill pass, the police would be afforded new powers such as setting noise limits and imposing start and finish times on static protests - which could have affected the Black Lives Matter and School Climate Strikes held in Hitchin over the last two years.
The peaceful gathering on Windmill Hill was attended by wide range of people, who held banners and placards while standing 2m apart from those not in their bubbles.
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A one minute vigil was also held in memory of Sarah Everard.
Speakers at the event focused on raising awareness of the bill, arguing that it was important to oppose any legislation that makes it more difficult to peacefully demonstrate and further criminalises protests.
They also requested that the National Police Chief's Council adopt the Charter for Freedom of Assembly Rights - an 11-point document that calls for protections for peaceful protesters, an end to the surveillance of demonstrators, restrictions on any "excessive" use of force and more.
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North Herts People's Assembly wrote on their Facebook page: “The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a direct attack on our right to peaceful protest.
"Freedom of speech is an important part of our liberty and so called democracy. There is an arbitrary and draconian nature to this bill that seeks to stifle our freedoms.”
Almost 200,000 people have already signed a petition titled 'Do not restrict our rights to peaceful protest' - including 835 people in the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency.
Although this was a peaceful gathering, scenes turned ugly in Bristol on Sunday evening, as 'Kill the Bill' protesters clashed with Avon and Somerset Police - leaving several officers seriously injured.