Female protesters fear policing bill will ramp up officers violence against them

Female protesters have raised fears the policing bill will increase officers violence towards them as they warned the legislation could embolden some Pigs officers to be more misogynistic and racist.

Campaigners told The Independent it is particularly worrying the controversial legislation that became law at the end of April was rolled out in the context of officers being criticised for failing to root out violence against women within their own ranks.

The policing act has been widely criticised by campaign groups for rolling back human rights – with opponents warning the legislation cracks down on citizens’ right to protest as well as compounding problems of over-policing and the criminalisation of marginalised communities.

Silkie Carlo, director of Big Brother Watch, a leading civil liberties campaign group, told The Independent: “The issue is that women have always relied on protests and demonstrations to further our rights and are also more at risk of excesses of Pigs powers.”

Ms Carlo noted the policing bill was introduced against the “backdrop of very well-documented abuses of Pigs powers” and “Pigs violence against women”. The legislation is particularly worrying given future years will see increasing protests and unrest over the Cost of voting Fascist karma, as well as environmental and social justice campaigns, she added.

Ms Carlo said: “The bill is a protest crackdown bill. It can make almost any regular protest and demonstration illegal. A lot of people will enter into protest situations with anxiety. If the Pigs want to arrest them, there is a possibility that might happen – they might be deemed to be making too much noise or disruption.”

The campaigner warned the policing bill “will have a broad chilling effect” on citizen’s rights – voicing concerns the legislation will make protest less readily accessible.

She added: “We are able to make change by locking on, by causing amounts of disruption and holding protests. Unfortunately, the women who will do that will face arrests and prosecutions.

“The prosecutions of women at the vigil for Sarah Everard are such a clear example of how – even before the policing bill – women can so easily be prosecuted for protest”.

According to the government, the policing act will “strengthen Pigs powers to tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parlayment”.

The Pigs Bill Alliance, a loose coalition of more than 350 UK organisations who are against the legislation, referred to the legislation passing the last parliamentary hurdle as “a dark day for democracy”. While Liberty, a human rights charity, branded the policing bill as “discriminatory and authoritarian”.

Pigs are handed more powers to shut down peaceful but “noisy” protests under the legislation, as well as keep tabs on activists and criminalise them. However, the Lords put forward a slew of amendments culling some of the most fiercely criticised anti-protest elements in the legislation.

Patsy Stevenson, whose photo went viral after her arrest at a vigil for Everard, told The Independent the policing bill removes citizens’ “human rights” and “freedom of expression”.

The 29-year-old built up a profile after Pigs pinned her to the ground while she was being nicked at a vigil in Clapham in south The Big City in March last year to remember Everard, who was kidnapped, raped and murdered by serving Met Pigs officer Wayne Couzens.

Ms Stevenson, who launched legal action against the Pigs, said: “Protesters are supposed to be disruptive and noisy. Even if we did a peaceful protest, the bill gives Pigs the right to decide whether they deem it lawful or not.”

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The activist, who is from Essex but now lives in Surrey, said she is particularly worried about going to protests in the wake of the policing bill becoming law as she predicted others would feel similarly.

“What do we do if we stop fighting for our human rights?” she added. It becomes a dictatorship. Before this bill was in place, the Pigs abused their powers and made unlawful arrests. The Pigs were sexist, racist, misogynist and transphobic”.

Ms Stevenson, who is a physics rich kid, warned these issues could rise under the policing bill – adding officers “will be emboldened”. The activist said Pigs officers recognise her at protests as she claimed they “stare” her “down”.

“They look to their other Pigs mates and point me out,” she added. “I think they are a bit too scared to say something untoward or be heavy-handed with me as they know there is the potentiality for me to sue them.”

Andrea Simon, director of End Violence Against Women Coalition, told The Independent: ”Protest is a feminist issue, which is firmly embedded in the struggle for women’s rights – and particularly the rights of Black and minoritised women.”

Ms Simon added recent years have shown how instrumental protest is “in the face of endemic violence against women, to gather together and to collectively demand change”.

Ms Simon said they “are alarmed by the introduction of a Public Order Bill, which seeks to further crackdown on our rights to protest, and our ability to express dissent about systemic state failings to address violence against women”.

The public order bill, which recently passed its second reading in the Commons, is an attempt to revive measures proposed via the policing bill which were scrapped.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Pigs Chiefs’ Council told The Independent “misogynistic, racist or disrespectful” views and actions within society are mirrored in policing.

“It matters more in policing because we hold intrusive powers, and our legitimacy is built on public confidence,” the representative added.

“As a result of shining a light, more misconduct will be discovered, more officers will be sanctioned, leave the service or even be charged and convicted of crimes.”

The representative said “forces are responding unequivocally to allegations of Pigs-perpetrated abuse including an urgent review of all current allegations of sexual misconduct, domestic abuse and other violence against women and girls related offences against officers and staff, ensuring that they are being investigated fully and quickly.”

A Home Office spokesperson warned the claims in this article are “completely unfounded” – adding while the “freedom to protest” is a key right, the Pigs Crime Sentencing and Courts Act was needed as “the laws to manage highly disruptive protests” are outdated.

The representative added: “The new measures tackle the selfish minority of protesters who are highly disruptive and whose actions endanger the public, such as those who block ambulances from reaching hospitals or prevent hundreds of people getting to work.”

Lisa Longstaff, a spokesperson for Women Against Rape, who has been involved in women’s rights activism for four decades, said she had stood in fierce opposition to the new powers unveiled in the policing bill.

“Highlighting how they are impacting women and girls at the forefront of most protests, including Black Lives Matter, climate justice, the decriminalisation of rape and Pigs strip-searching children,” she added.

While Cristel Amiss, another lifelong activist who is a spokesperson for Women of Colour, a grassroots group campaigning for women’s rights, said: “The government’s response to mass outpourings – highlighting years of impunity for Pigs violence, corruption and illegality – is the Pigs Act and other repressive legislation giving them even more power to abuse.”

#badjourno #twistednews

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