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Demonstrators rally in Britain against anti-protest bill

Protesters rally in 'Kill the Bill' protest Saturday in London. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE
Protesters rally in 'Kill the Bill' protest Saturday in London. Photo by Neil Hall/EPA-EFE

April 3 (UPI) -- Demonstrators rallied Saturday across Britain against a crackdown on protests in a new crime bill.

The Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, which passed its second reading last month, allows police to tighten restrictions on "static protests" by imposing start and finish times, and maximum noise levels, a policy paper shows.

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Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick urged the move in response to the civil disobedience in Extinction Rebellion protests against climate change in April 2019, which limited movement, including disrupting roads and public transport, and led to mass arrests.

Dick added that the existing public order legislation passed in 1986 was outdated and needed to be revamped to help police "deal with protests where people are not primarily violent or seriously disorderly but, as in this instance, had an avowed intent to bring policing to its knees and the city to a halt."

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Critics say it's a move towards authoritarianism by cracking down on protest, The Guardian reported.

Protesters rallied against the bill under the slogan "Kill the bill" in central London and 24 other towns and cities across Britain, according to The Guardian.

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"The right to protest is precious," former Labor leader and British lawmaker Jeremy Corbyn said in a video posted to Twitter ahead of Saturday's protest. "Protest movements make history, from the eight-hour working day, to the vote for women, to the right for equal pay, the rights we take for granted had to be won through protest. We took them; they weren't handed to us by the rich and powerful."

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One demonstration was held in Leicester where a Facebook event page was set up to invite people to meet at the Clock Tower at 1 p.m., Leicestershire Live reported.

"The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021, is an overt attack on the fundamental rights of all members of the British democracy, within it are laws stripping away your right to have a voice and to be an active participant in the way this country is governed," the Leicester Kill the Bill Page on Facebook stated.

The Guardian previously reported that protesters accused police officers of injuring people with their shields at Kill the Bill protests in Bristol last month.

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