Noisy and disruptive - we have a right to be both

In the UK there is a proud tradition of protest. If not for the right to protest the right for women to vote just wouldn’t exist today.

 

The climate debate, a conversation that is far from over, would not be as advanced or as accepted as it now without our activists noisily and disruptively holding government and big business to account for environmental degradation on a massive scale. The BLM movement could not have entered into mainstream consciousness without being noisy and disruptive. Hopefully, you might note a theme emerging around two adjectives: Noisy and Disruptive.

Here’s why…

In the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, currently being accelerated through parliament by our democratically elected government, it is proposed that our right to protest should be severely curtailed through the introduction of punitive measures that are disproportionate to the actions.

You can be imprisoned for attending a protest deemed ‘noisy’ or ‘disruptive’ .

Come on!

Can a protest really be deemed a protest if it is not both of these things?

The trouble is this; the bill does not clearly define what is meant by noisy or disruptive. It is open to interpretation by those authorities on the ground at the time of the protest. The bill also proposes imprisonment for merely being found in possession of carrying protest equipment such as a banner or a placard. This bill could be read as an attempt to use the most extreme forms of protest to eradicate all forms of protest. It’s taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

That’s not right

We believe that protest is a vital part of democracy. We believe that restricting the rights of people to speak out does not create a healthy, diverse and prosperous society; nor does it create the conditions in which businesses can grow and innovate. Peaceful protest about the climate emergency and the loss of biodiversity such as the school strikes have been critical in raising public awareness and shifting government positions around the world.

We believe this bill will further marginalise the voices of people who are already marginalised, and who are merely advocating for a better future. We believe it is our moral obligation to stand against this bill in its present format.

The Body Shop thinks the same way

As do Business Declares

 

This Bill is now with the House of Lords after passing through the House of Commons. A further 18 pages of additional amendments have been added and it now needs proper scrutiny – as befitting a proper democracy. A third reading of the bill is due imminently – it could pass as early as January 2022. You can check its progress here.

 

If you feel the same way, here's how you can help

  • Make a public statement about why you oppose the bill and share it with your networks
  • Personally email other business leaders and tell them why you oppose this Bill and encourage them to oppose it too
  • Tweet the Lords who are reviewing the bill and encourage them to reject it in the current format:
  • @UKHouseofLords @LabourLordsUK @LibDemLords @LordsIntergen

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