On Monday night the House of Lords inflicted a series of bruising defeats on the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, irreversibly sinking some of its worst aspects. In defiance of the anti-protest nature of the bill, demonstrators outside made so much noise it resonated inside the chamber while the Lords voted against the government on 14 separate counts. But this is not the end of the road. Kill the Bill protesters celebrating this victory must keep piling on the pressure - this attack on civil liberties and our fundamental democratic rights needs to be defeated in its entirety. The bill, described by Amnesty International as an “enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers” and seen by others as an attack on democracy reminiscent of “Cold War era Eastern European dictatorships” enables the authorities to effectively ban peaceful protest and criminalize freedom of speech and assembly.
Freedom of Assembly
Tallahassee, Fla. - This morning, just days after the Republican-led Florida Senate voted to pass an unprecedented, costly and racially charged bill (House Bill 1) to censor protest, preempt local policing budgets and preserve symbols of white supremacy, Governor DeSantis is signing it into law. The bill passed despite widespread opposition by Floridians of all political ideologies and diverse sectors, after Governor DeSantis made it his number one legislative priority and lobbied behind doors to make sure it passed both Chambers as early as possible. The new law, which does nothing more than silence dissent and criminalize peaceful protestors, will disproportionately censor, incarcerate, and kill Black Floridians simply exercising their constitutional rights, setting a dangerous precedent of criminalization and repression.
United Kingdom - Over the last few weeks, the brutal policing of protests in Bristol has been profoundly disturbing. The right to peaceful assembly and protest are fundamental principles of any democracy, and the rich history of dissent in this country show us that they literally can change the course of history. Nobody knows this better than the people of Bristol, a city whose radicalism has seen it on the frontlines of change. The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 drew national attention to racism in public life, playing a key role in securing the enactment of subsequent race relations legislation that outlawed racial discrimination in public places, housing and employment. This radicalism has been with us in recent years, with last summer’s wave of Black Lives Matter protests seeing the removal of Bristol’s statue honouring the slave owner Edward Colston.
A teen who organized a Black Lives Matter rally in her northern New Jersey town said she has been sent a $2500 bill from officials for police overtime. NJ Advance Media reported Friday Emily Gil, 18, of Englewood Cliffs received a letter earlier this month from Mayor Mario M. Kranjac looking for payment of $2,499.26 “for the police overtime caused by your protest.” A civil liberties advocate called the move “shocking.” Gil, a recent high school graduate, had organized a protest on July 25 in the town, just across the river from the uppermost parts of Manhattan. She said she called for action like increasing affordable housing in the town, and chastised Engelwood Cliffs for not implementing it over the years.
The Trump Administration sent federal law enforcement, including the paramilitary squad of Customs and Border Patrol, BORTAC, which has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, to the streets of Portland, OR to stop the ongoing demonstrations against racist police violence. Federal law enforcement, working with local police, is also being sent to other cities where anti-racist protests are going on. We speak with constitutional lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard about the legality of this and how activists can fight back to protect the rights of everyone and end police violence and lawless impunity.
Thousands of protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, into the early hours of Saturday shooting fireworks at the building as plumes of tear gas, dispensed by U.S. agents, lingered above. The demonstration went on for hours until federal agents entered the crowd around 2:30 a.m. and marched in a line down the street, clearing remaining protesters with tear gas at close range. They also extinguished a large fire in the street outside the courthouse. The Federal Protective Service had declared the gathering as “an unlawful assembly” and cited that officers had been injured.
By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy - As capitalism and its racist, sexist, ecocidal, homicidal and bigoted tenets push forwards, protests have been on the rise. And it is in fact our right to protest - it says so in the First amendment. Lawmakers, however, seem less interested in considering human or civil rights than they are in considering their peace, quiet and pocket books. Recently, 12 bills, filings, laws and proposals have been brought forward to directly curtail our exercise of Freedom of Speech, Press and the Right to Petition our Government - aka the First Amendment. In this special segment, we lay out the vehemently anti-dissident ideas popping up in state legislatures all over the country - from hit and run laws to getting put in jail for laughing; asset seizure for attending a protest to a $1 million fine for organizing a direct action. These creeping authoritarian style moves are directly made to intimidate, silence and destroy those fighting for justice. Interestingly enough, much in the same way that bombing innocent people only creates more terrorists, throwing down a gavel against protesters will only create more.
By Staff for Common Dreams - At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attack the right to protest since Donald Trump's election as president, an "alarming and undemocratic" trend, U.N. human rights investigators said this week. Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression respectively, are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the “alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. "The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech," they said in a statement, calling for action to reverse such legislation.
By Dan Aymar-Blair for Truth Dig - The rerouting of the Dakota Access pipeline was a much-needed victory for the rights of indigenous peoples and the sanctity of the environment. The stand at Standing Rock also proved to be a victory for a human right we don’t hear much about: the freedom of peaceful assembly. Peaceful assembly is the presence of individuals in a public forum as an expression of opinion. Often confused with free speech or other expressive human rights, assembly is expressed through presence, what I call the “body as voice.” Thus, when, where and how we make our presence known to others is fundamental to the expression of assembly.
May 23, Oakland, CA - So tonight the Black women who organized the #SayHerName march in Oakland to bring attention to the scores of Black women being brutalized and terrorized by police were informed by OPD about a new PROTEST CURFEW.. Yes you read that right.. Oakland Police said there is a new protest curfew via Mayor Libby Shaaf According to Cat Brooks who heads up theAnti Police-Terror Project Oakland police stopped them and informed them there is new ordinance that mayor Libby Shaaf had put in place and that there will be no night time protests.. Marches were warned to get on the sidewalk or risk arrest if they continued their protests.. According to Cat, the marches were followed and warned via loud speaker…Brooks also noted that she was told by an insider off the record, this was the first stage of a crack down..
Congress has been critical of the Capitol Police this year when it comes to the department’s handling of protesters. Now, one member is demanding to see the department’s policies on removing demonstrators from House and Senate hearings. It started in January, when Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain called one of the protesters who disrupted a panel hearing “low-life scum,” and later vowed he would be “raising hell” over their behavior toward 91-year-old former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. “I don’t know if they are being more aggressive,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the latest to scrutinize Capitol Police. “I do know that I have been in hearings where people got up, had a sign, sat down [and] weren’t even asked to leave as long as they didn’t repeat the infraction.” Concerned Capitol Police might have tossed one of her constituents from a House hearing without just cause, Norton wants clarification on the department’s policy on protesters. In a Monday letter to Chief Kim C. Dine, Norton asks Capitol Police to specify the regulations or laws “that indicate whether officers must personally observe the conduct to remove a demonstrator or may rely solely on witness reports.” Local activist Adam Eidinger is fighting “unlawful entry” charges stemming from his arrest during an April 21 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee markup, which he says he was carried out of despite not causing a disturbance. Eidinger heads back to court on May 27. He has said he intends to sue if he is successful in fighting the charges.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray were being charged brought cheers and celebratory honking of horns. On closer inspection, however, there are important questions as to whether the arresting officers who began the process that led to Gray’s death were charged with an adequately serious offense. Indeed, if it had not been for the illegal arrest and the damage they did to Gray before the van ride, Gray would not have died. Further, comparing how the police were treated with how protesters were treated shows further injustice and prompts questions about amnesty for all those arrested during the protests. If a country truly believed in freedom of speech and the right to assembly, there would be amnesty for all the protesters who were arrested. They should have their records cleansed, the arrests should never have occurred and there should be no record of them. There is a human right to resist injustice that should be respected. As for the case of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Mosby still has a chance to amend the charges against the officers involved in his arrest or bring the case before a grand jury and seek an additional charge of second degree murder against the three arresting officers.
With the holograms campaign for freedom we want to highlight the situation of repression of our rights as free people, as citizens living in a supposed democracy. The rules penalizing freedoms and human rights recently approved in the Congress of Deputies make us a ghostly, hologrammatic citizenship, which only counts in politics to abide by the wishes of those who have climbed up there, of which dictate above all laws, including the judiciary ... Laws that violate our human rights and prevent us from participating in public affairs. A series of totalitarian laws are being used to subject the will of the people, the people who, lest we forget, have delegated their power of representation in political leaders. #HologramasLibres (FreeHolograms) describe a surreal future in which we have to shed our flesh and become three-dimensional light forms (holograms) in order to protest. The aim of esta dystopia is to denounce the situation we are currently facing. The manifestation of holograms reveals that people cannot express in the street contrary to the political class messages, we can not think freely -for free thought depends on the possibility of meeting to speak freely, to express themselves in the streets, in the markets, in the streets.
Spanish citizens held the first hologram protest in history in order to protest without violating the new draconian guidelines of the National Security Act, the new amendments to the Penal Code and the Anti-terror law. According to the recently approved “triad gag“, the citizens of Spain cannot protest against the Congress or hold meetings in public spaces, plus they have to ask permission from the authorities whenever they wish to protest publicly “If you are a person you can not express yourself freely, you can only do that here if you become a hologram,” says a woman in the video released by the movement “Hologramas para la Libertad.”
Yesterday three laws widely criticized by the opposition and human rights groups were approved in Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety. The three new texts challenge freedom of expression in the streets and on the Internet. All three laws are scheduled to go into effect July 1, 2015. Under the new Citizen Safety Law or Ley Mordaza (Gag Law) as human rights defenders have renamed it, public protests, freedoms of speech and the press and documenting police abuses will become crimes punishable by heavy fines and/or jail. Some key points on the Ley Mordaza: Photographing or recording police – 600 to 30.000€ fine. . .