Sunday 16 November: Defend the Right to Protest Conference

WE DO NOT CONSENT: Defend the Right to Protest is a major conference taking place on Sunday 16 November  at SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG, from 11am-late. Speakers include Helen Steel, Rob Evans, Merrick Badger, Alfie Meadows and Jenny Jones. Amongst the workshops will be “Undercover cops and the secret state”, “Protest, surveillance, stop and search – know your rights/get organized” and “*Fracking: the future face of protest policing?” Book tickets in advance via the website as places are limited. Wish I could be there.

About the conference

The police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August sparked worldwide outrage and a protest movement that is still on the streets. Ferguson has become a symbol of the racism and violence that is the hallmark of policing across the world.

In Britain years of campaigning have exposed the extent of injustices past and present: the fitting-up of striking miners who took on Thatcher, the appalling response to the Hillsborough disaster, police spying on Stephen Lawrence’s family and the treatment of women activists by undercover cops. Those seeking accountability face a long, hard struggle with many powerful institutions ranged against them.

Now we see fresh attacks on our civil liberties. Despite the death of Ian Tomlinson in 2009, demonstrators continue to be kettled and physically abused by police. Trade unionists are hemmed in by anti-union laws and face further threats to their rights to strike and demonstrate. Legal aid cuts are stripping away people’s ability to challenge state policies and abuses. On top of this the Conservatives have pledged to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights.

Austerity, escalating inequality and the “war on terror” form a wider context to this assault. Protests, occupations, organising and solidarity are the only tools we have to fight back and raise alternatives – whether it is in Ferguson, Hong Kong, Cairo or here in Britain.

We hope this conference will provide a space where we can come together to discuss what’s going on, share experiences, equip ourselves to defend our basic rights and think about how to build a stronger movement against injustice for the battles ahead.


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