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Kill the Bill protest: Insults, music but no disorder

If those campaigning against the new Police and Crime Bill were hoping for a national movement akin to that of the Poll Tax era they must be sorely disappointed writes Chris Hobbs.

Kill the Bill protest: Insults, music but no disorder

Date - 4th May 2021
By - Chris Hobbs
1 Comment 1 Comment}

Saturday’s ‘Kill the Bill’ protest held in the capital began in Trafalgar Square while others took place at various locations, including Bristol, throughout the day. Stairs leading to Trafalgar Square in front of the National Gallery were sealed off, perhaps to prevent the setting up of a major sound system while officers patrolled to the base of Nelson’s Column, presumably to prevent a similar endeavour.

By the advertised start time of midday, the Square was less than half full but several discussions were taking place involving various groups.

There was however a dramatic intervention when an open-top red double decker bus appeared and paused just outside the Square. There was a powerful sound system on the upper deck which was accentuated by a female speaker who was banshee like when addressing the crowd that rapidly formed in front of the bus.

After a few minutes it moved off but was soon replaced by a flat-back truck complete with sound-system which drove on to the Square amongst the crowd which had gathered for the bus. The speakers were youthful and the agenda was very much that of Black Lives Matter.

The march proceeds

After those speakers had finished, it seemed as if the crowd had become impatient and decided to move. The original plan was to have three separate marches each marked with a distinctive colour. It didn’t quite work and everyone opted to follow those with purple flags out of the Square and down the Mall towards Buckingham Palace which, on arrival, was then totally ignored by protesters.

The protest, estimated at around five thousand, seemed to be taking a strange route away from Westminster but there was then a clearly planned reunion with the red bus. As the march approached the Home Office, police serials scrambled to form cordons. It was outside the Home Office that the group of around 60 anarchists and Antifa activists seemingly tried to take control of proceedings at the front of the march. As suspicious police officers moved closer, those dressed in all black could be heard shouting, ‘Don’t’ let them in!’ before huddling together.

A man and his megaphone.

The march moved off and amongst the youthful activists was a rather more mature individual who kept up a constant barrage of vitriol via his megaphone against the escorting officers. He is, in fact a familiar character, frequently to be seen haranguing police at leftist/environmental protests.

On one occasion, during a Friday environmental protest attended mainly by schoolchildren, police could be seen gently shepherding youngsters out of the road by Parliament Square as they were attempting to block traffic. The individual referred to above appeared and again, with his megaphone, began taunting police.

A group of schoolgirls passing by, paused, took stock of the situation and began chanting, ‘Let them do their job.’ The protesters were eased out of the road, the chanting schoolgirls walked off and this individual was left alone before he sloped off doubtless to find another incident to comment on.

The march, with the anarchists/ANTIFA, at the front continued for a few minutes then halted before the procession went into reverse leaving those dressed in black at the rear rather than at the front. The reason became clear in that the bus was outside the Home Office and speeches were being made. The tenor was again the Black Lives Matter agenda.

Eventually the marchers moved off again and as they reached the river, took a right turn into Millbank then along by the Thames where the march was directed across Vauxhall Bridge. On the bridge itself I was joined by a gentleman with some interesting tattoos on his face and neck, clutching an open can. He didn’t know where we were going either but it turned out he was also born in Hackney yet was a committed Millwall supporter!.

The Pleasure Gardens

We parted on good terms as we reached south London then it was under a bridge at around 4.15 and into a fairly bleak park that went under the slightly misleading title of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. It did however, have on its borders, two pubs and tea rooms which also served wine; all were busy with outside trade.

Police serials escorting the march regrouped on the outside of the park which, as it turned, was an ideal finishing venue in that there were no residents in the immediate vicinity. Mercifully there were no speeches on arrival but the flat-back lorry appeared again, using its sound system as a disco.

Another, lesser sound system was also evident as the protest had now turned into a picnic with copious amounts of alcohol.

At around 5pm, a serial of officers entered the park and split into pairs before going round engaging with groups of protesters. They were followed by legal observers who stuck to them like proverbial glue feverishly making notes as they did so. They also seem to have acquired a somewhat bizarre habit of noting the shoulder numbers of every police officer they encounter even if those are simply standing still.

The disco, amidst the grime music, somewhat incongruously played Kylie’s ‘Can’t get you out of my head’ before it wound up its proceedings at around 6pm to the disappointment of the gyrating protesters who were left with warnings from the female DJ not to talk to police, not to give names and addresses and so on.

A happy Deliveroo rider.

This left one smaller sound system while around the park, ten TSG and a number of Level 2 carriers were clearly visible. One TSG officer came to the assistance of a stranded, despairing Deliveroo rider whose pedal cycle had developed a fault.

The previous week at Speaker’s Corner, police had decided to close down the sound system at 7.45pm which led to the well- publicised disorder. On this occasion, before that ‘witching hour’ it was clear that such action wouldn’t be required. Just a handful of drunken groups remained with one such group enjoying a less than melodious sing song.

The Met later reported that nine arrests had been made throughout the protest but it was clear that there was no major disorder. The arrests appear to be mainly due to Extinction Rebellion activity which involved ‘obstruction’ type offences. The issue of the bill was largely lost amongst the anti-police diatribe to which is now added the narrative around Clapham Common. It would seem that the police forced their way on to the bandstand, ‘beat up’ women who were merely engaging in a sorrowful vigil and undertook mass arrests.

However, given the anti-police agenda that could be heard in the speeches and seen on the placards and literature, the Met must have been delighted that the event passed off without major incident despite the efforts of around 60 anarchists and ANTIFA activists.

Whilst the efforts of Met officers to engage were normally (but not always) rebuffed and plenty of abuse was hurled in their direction, those officers acted impeccably throughout.

But elsewhere

The situation was reportedly less peaceful in Bristol, the scene of serious disorder some weeks ago. Whilst the march itself was without incident, some protesters gathered outside a squat near Castle Park. 13 officers were assaulted as missiles were thrown and two arrests made.

Further anti-Lockdown and Kill the Bill protests are planned while the Far Right will be holding a protest in Dover concerning the arrival of migrants/asylum seekers arriving from France in small craft.

Given disorder at Arsenal (unreported was the fact that officers had to don NATO helmets due to missiles being thrown) and Manchester together with the disturbing levels of street violence plus ‘freedom’ as Lockdown restrictions are eased, a challenging summer for the UK’s police services appears inevitable.

And finally

And, whilst I didn’t listen to all speeches or read all the literature, the subject of violence against women was referred to. I was not aware however, of any mention in respect of Julia James. RIP

Chris Hobbs is a former Met Special Branch officer who has been following all the Londom lockdown protests as an observer for Police Oracle

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Ordered by:
Jensen2021 - Wed, 05 May 2021

These people are utterly pathetic and so ignorant that it’s beyond describable. They act as if this is 1964 in Alabama. That phrase ‘they don’t know that they’re born,’ seems very apt in these types of circumstances. They desperately act as if the UK police are Gestapo troopers, because a 10 second clip of a mouthy privileged student being handcuffed is going viral. They seem to forget that in many cases justice is indeed done about corrupt/criminal cops being prosecuted and jailed, which are a drop in the ocean compared to the decent police. Love that those schoolchildren backed the police over that overgrown sixth former, what an embarrassing waste of oxygen that man is, that a group of children are essentially telling him to grow up and get a life! Haha