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Hands off the crusties!

Extinction Rebellion must be allowed to protest peacefully.

spiked

Topics Free Speech Politics UK

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The police have banned Extinction Rebellion (XR) from protesting in London.

Last night the Metropolitan Police began clearing the XR camp in Trafalgar Square and issued a stark warning to protesters: ‘Any assembly linked to the Extinction Rebellion “Autumn Uprising”… must now cease their protests within London.’

Police are using powers under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 – a draconian piece of legislation that effectively gives police carte blanche to arrest protesters.

Britain’s public-order laws are a menace to free expression and to free assembly, severely curbing the right to protest.

Unlike our right to free speech, the right to protest is not absolute. Police should move people on if they are blocking roads and disrupting everyday life. And they should arrest people who cause damage. Even so, banning XR ‘affiliates’ from the whole of London is a totally disproportionate response. Most of the XR protesters are harmless, if a little odd:

The great irony is that many Extinction Rebellion protesters want to be arrested.

— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) October 15, 2019

Getting arrested adds a veneer of radical respectability to XR’s programme of eco-austerity. XR co-founder Roger Hallam often (rather arrogantly) compares his eco-cult to the civil-rights movement.

Let’s not give them the satisfaction. The police should back away from the crusties.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Free Speech Politics UK

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