Police Everywhere, Justice Nowhere: #KillTheBill Protest in London

This past Saturday LAFA participated in the #KillTheBill protest in central London after sharing a callout encouraging Londoners to fight back against the police state. We did this because we see the Policing Bill as another step to increase the powers of the British state to carry its authoritarian, white supremacist, capitalist, xenophobic and patriarchal violence.

The protest saw diverse groups and individuals come together, showing the potential of the struggle against this bill to unite many under a single banner. As anti-fascists we are delighted to be part of the effort to push back against police bullshit and is great to see so many people join the fight. Throughout these protests, since the Sarah Everard memorial at Clapham Common, we have been advocating for an antifascist, abolitionist, feminist stance for this movement. We’ve also been working alongside a range of organisations on the ground, including feminist groups and other antifascists. These protests are moving in a positive direction, and its our hope that they continue to be strident, demanding that the Bill be scrapped, and the Police abolished. Sisters Uncut are right: The cops are drunk on power, and it shows.

At the same time, we also saw the return of familiar and conservative patterns of protest that pose a challenge for the movement as a whole. The tolerance for known sex-pests & cop-collaborators, the SWP, who were allowed to hand out their banners to unsuspecting protesters unaware of their history and nature of their grift, is a major problem as always. A collective response to this hijacking should be strongly considered by any organisation truly opposed to sexual abuse. Also, despite XR as an organisation being in decline, their harmful and ineffective protest tactics remain alive and well. We heard of fellow protesters being “de-escalated” and encouraged to leave the more radical blocs of the protest in order to “get behind the banner”. Although it’s good to have a diverse movement composed of many different voices, we can’t abandon our beliefs and tactics for some big tent strategy that will compromise our effectiveness, objectives and safety. This is especially the case given that the nature of the protest puts the police in totally open political opposition to all protesters: the liberal myth of policing by consent is evaporating, which is making XR tactics worse than useless. XR’s flower power doesn’t stop police violence. We offer this critique not to attack XR personally, but to defend the movement against fatal errors.

As far as the police operation goes, the general strategy resembles what we have been seeing in recent protests. They started the day with a relatively hands-off approach, while making their presence known at all times. As the protest started to march, they formed a line on the side but otherwise not interacting too much. It was only after the protest had stopped in parliament square that  a large police squad, cut the protest in half on the road near parliament while speeches were in progress. We believe that the cops intended to cut off the more radical sections of the protest from the main bulk, as is normal for their ” divide & conquer” tactics. This trend continued into the evening, as they conducted street sweeping operations, snatch squads, and forced marches. By the end of the evening the cops were pushing the protest up Whitehall, across Trafalgar Square by force of TSG batons, and along the Strand. However, we are glad to say that the protesters gave as good as they got, and resisted this bullshit continuously throughout the day.

This protest had a wonderful, carnival-like atmosphere during the day, as do most London protests. The police, who should be seen as a political faction in their own right, cannot tolerate this kind of protest. The message is opposed to their interests: the interests of power, of authoritarian violence. They had to choke it, & by the end of the day, up to 107 people were arrested, on a range of spurious grounds, along with a large number of injuries amongst the protesters, inflicted by multiple riot-police charges, all unprovoked.

LAFA will continue to organise and agitate: Regardless of if this law stands or falls in committee, continuous resistance to  an increasingly fascist government is clearly now essential. We welcome anyone who wishes to join us in this struggle, and are committed to making this as accessible a movement as possible: only with militant solidarity and a diversity of tactics can we defeat this oncoming fascist wave.

London is Anti-Fascist.

London is Feminist.

London hates the police.

London will #KillTheBill.

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