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‘Kill the Bill’, 100 Guildford Protesters March – MP Says Bill Will Stop Threats to Public Order

Published on: 5 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 7 Apr, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Around 100 people of all ages and across a wide political spectrum gathered in Guildford town centre on a Kill the Bill protest on Easter Sunday.

Around 100 protestors marched against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The good-tempered but passionate crowd marched from Holy Trinity church on the High Street to the Surrey Police building on Woodbridge Road. The police were present throughout.

The protests were against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and were focused on the powers the police would be given to impose conditions on non-violent protests including those which were deemed to be noisy or a nuisance.

Emma Clyde said the bill threatened the right to worship.

The government has defended the bill saying it allowed them to tackle demonstrations such as the ones by Extinction Rebellion (XR) in 2019 where roads and bridges in London were blocked for days and police resources were said to have been “stretched to the limit”.

Angel Richardson, Guildford’s Conservative MP, said: “I have been concerned by the extensive disruption that some protests have caused. These powers will allow the police to safely manage protests where they threaten public order and stop people from getting on with their daily lives.”

Peter from GGG said the bill brought to mind similarities with police powers in Hong Kong and China.

An XR spokesperson said: “Of course protest is annoying. But unless you’re a rich white person your rights were won through protest. This bill is an effort to support the status quo so that a greedy few can keep profiting from planetary destruction and oppression.”

Peter, a Guildford Greenbelt Group member, attended with his young family. He said he had never been on a march before: “We think we are better than Hong Kong or China but there are similarities with this bill. Some bits are good but stopping protests is wrong. They don’t hurt anyone and they are effective.”

Protestors gathered outside the Surrey Police building on Woodbridge Road.

Emma Clyde, who attended with her young son and parents, said: “I am a Catholic. This is an attack on people’s right to protest. Under this bill, they could stop the Wintershall Passion play in Guildford High Street if shopkeepers said it was a nuisance.”

She criticised the police approach at the march saying: “The police are stopping the traffic unnecessarily. Drivers will blame the protesters for delays but it is the police.”

Natasha Barnett said: “We are all entitled to protest in a democratic society and voice our opinions without which there will never be change.”

Student Vinnie Conquest, one of the organisers of the march, said the bill gave too much power to the police and the Home Office. “The disruption last year by XR had a purpose to bring attention to the inaction of the government on climate change and it worked. This is a revenge bill against XR and Black Lives Matters movements and on people’s right to protest.”

Students protested and said: “One of the UN tenets is the ability to have a peaceful protest and this law will stop that.”

Protests were also held in other towns around the UK including London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Newcastle, Weymouth and Bournemouth. A hundred were reported to have been arrested in London and seven in Bristol.

There was a police presence throughout the march and outside the Surrey Police building.

Hugh Coakley is a member of Extinction Rebellion

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Responses to ‘Kill the Bill’, 100 Guildford Protesters March – MP Says Bill Will Stop Threats to Public Order

  1. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    April 5, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    The Bill does not stop peaceful protests, and so far most of the so-called peaceful protests have not been peaceful.

    • B Smith Reply

      April 5, 2021 at 4:21 pm

      You’re correct in as much as yes there’s been extensive violence perpetrated by the police toward peaceful protestors. I suggest Mr Jenkinson watches Bristol Police smashing the edge of their riot shields into people sat peacefully on the floor.

      This bill would give the police powers to shut down protest that is too noisy or a “serious annoyance”. That could be any peaceful protest depending on who decides whether it’s annoying.

      So yes, the bill can stop peaceful protest.

  2. Valerie Charles (Mrs) Reply

    April 5, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    May I say I thought the protest on Easter Sunday was quite well organised and no litter left behind.

  3. Nick Holloway Reply

    April 5, 2021 at 5:07 pm

    Most of the recent protests around the country have not been peaceful, far from it: burnt-out cars, injured policemen, petrol bombs have been included.

    The law is being broken everywhere. It is amazing that as we have survived the greatest health threat in living memory while protestors have done their best to ignore the social distancing and no gathering rules and have likely caused the deaths, through Covid transmission, of countless people.

    Selfishness in the extreme.

  4. Julia Shaw Reply

    April 5, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    This bill does affect peaceful protest. The whole point of a right to protest is its there if you need it. Risking 10 years in prison because you’re too loud or annoying takes away that right.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 5, 2021 at 10:39 pm

      Destroying property and stopping ambulances with blue lights, outweighs the right to protest. Some, by vile offensive abuse and aggression against our history, our flag and our police, wish to deny the right of free speech of those opposed to the “woke” point of view.

      It is not the right to protest they are demanding it is the right to insurrection.

    • Sean Jenkinson Reply

      April 6, 2021 at 4:51 pm

      So would Ms Shaw be content if she owned a business, and it got smashed up or her car was set on fire because a so-called peaceful protest got out of control?

  5. John Lomas Reply

    April 5, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    Do those carrying the placards not know that those words were used during certain earlier demonstrations some years ago and had a quite different meaning?

  6. George Potter Reply

    April 6, 2021 at 11:30 am

    A couple of weeks ago a hit and run driver was spared jail after killing someone.

    This bill, however, promises a prison sentence of up to 10 years for writing or drawing graffiti on a statue.

    What better illustration could there be of this government’s warped, and dangerous, priorities than this?

    Actual crime, acts that actually harm people, go undealt with, but the government has the time to make it a crime to draw a moustache on the statue of George Abbot.

    This bill is nothing to do with public safety, and everything to do with a brittle, amoral Conservative party seeking to protect themselves from ever having to hear criticism.

    We should all be thoroughly ashamed that this blatant attack on the most basic principles of English liberty, rights and freedoms is going barely noticed and scarcely challenged.

    This bill is an act of unpatriotic, bullying cowardice. This Conservative government is taking an axe to centuries of English tradition with nary a qualm and we will all come to rue it with time.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham and a candidate for Guildford East in the forthcoming SCC election

    • Sean Jenkinson Reply

      April 6, 2021 at 5:08 pm

      You say the bill is unpatriotic, but it seems you are ok with statues of people that saved this country being defaced like the Women of World War II memorial in 2015, I think you and your party are the unpatriotic ones here, and yet again show why you will never be in No 10.

      • George Potter Reply

        April 9, 2021 at 1:57 pm

        I think it’s incredibly unpatriotic to make out that our country is so fragile that it cannot withstand a little graffiti on statues.

        I absolutely condemn anything that desecrates war memorials, but it is absolutely ridiculous overreaction to suggest that any graffiti on any statue should face a 10-year prison sentence when murderers and rapists routinely face far softer sentences.

        The statue of William Gladstone, a Liberal Prime Minister, had its hands painted red shortly after it was erected as an act of protest against him having docked the wages of the match stick girls. The statue’s hands are red to this very day.

        That exemplifies Britain at its strongest: A country able to laud remarkable people and also able to tolerate non-violent protest against them.

        Is Sean Jenkinson really saying that Britain has become so pathetically fragile that such things would now bring about the end of our civilisation?

        George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham and a candidate for Guildford East in the forthcoming SCC election

  7. Stephen Collins Reply

    April 6, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    Look at the last placard being held, police drawn as pigs, “kill tory scum” and a gun against someone’s head.

  8. John Lomas Reply

    April 6, 2021 at 5:55 pm

    Surely George Potter is aware that sentences available are in many cases not used by magistrates or judges. He mentions a hit and run driver killing someone and escaping prison.

    The maximum current sentence for “Causing death by careless/dangerous driving is between 5-14 yrs” so was that the fault of the Judge or possibly the CPS for making a lesser charge?

    It was certainly not the fault of the police, they don’t decide what the charge should be, yet they are being targeted by these demonstrations.

    Quoting stupidly low sentences which have been issued, against possible future maximum sentences does no favours to the debate on the Bill.

  9. Peter Shaw Reply

    April 6, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    For those that think this is just to curtail some of the recent protests, please do your homework and read the actual wording of the bill. It can be read and interpreted that an act of ‘serious annoyance’ can lead to a 10 year prison sentence.

    Even if you are a hardened climate sceptic or staunch government supporter you must realise this is a step to far. We like to think our democracy is a model to the world. What sort of message does this project? George Potter makes a good example of how a badly worded bill can cause a lot of issues in the future!

    Like it or not, protest is a valid way of getting your voice heard, these powers, diminish the hard won rights of our previous generations!

  10. Brian Matthews Reply

    April 7, 2021 at 12:43 am

    I think it is very irresponsible to take young children to such a protest, and Mr Potter should really know how to spell George Abbot correctly by now.

    Editor’s response: We should have picked up the misspelling in our edit. Apologies. Now corrected. Thank you for pointing it out.

  11. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 7, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Unfortunately, there appears to be a minority who interpret ‘kill the bill’ (as in the old Bill sobriquet for police) to be an incitement to harm and kill police officers, such as fire-bombing police vans with officers inside. If the bill prevents that, then I’m all for it.

  12. K White Reply

    April 8, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    What’s the reference to the Wintershall Passion Play about? That’s not a protest.

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