How not to police the tarpaulinrevolution#

How can a pizza box be deemed a piece of sleeping equipment?  This is the increasingly surreal manner in which the Metropolitan Police has interpreted the new laws introduced since the rise of the Occupy movement in 2011. It seems the more successful a protest becomes, the more restrictive they interpreted the law to police it. On Saturday tarpaulins were apparently OK, but twenty four hours later, they had become, as the police officers kept droning on like automatons, “items which can be used for sleeping”, never mind if they were ever intended for that purpose. Some activists are now calling this protest the 
How did the government respond to one of the most and successful protest movements of the last decade? By introducing legislation which bans the erecting of a tent in central London (though of course, exceptions are made for the spectators of royal events or those consumers with an addiction to the latest gadget from Cupertino). The new law, called the PCSR (Police, Community & Socialist Responsibility Act) was designed to replace the supposedly more restrictive SOCPA, which banned all unauthorised protests in the vicinity of Parliament and Whitehall.
It is precisely these anti-democratic laws that the occupation in Parliament Square is designed to challenge. The government thinks it can simply legislate out of existence those who inconveniently question the legitimacy of policies and priorities it has imposed on us. But they are wrong. For no law can deny our right to demand real democracy and to communicate our point to the British public in the most effective manner: that there are alternatives to the current corrupt and self-serving rule from Westminster.

Protest in a democratic society is the means by which those who are governed exercise the democratic right of free assembly in order to interrupt normality. Its purpose is precisely to inconvenience those who rule over us. The large set-piece demonstration is the traditional, but not the only way this right has been practiced in this country.

The right to protest is meaningless if that right is so constrained by laws as to make the exercise of that right  ineffective. Protests which can be safely ignored by those with power is not protest. What has changed in the past two decades is that the Westminster elite, now more than ever, feel they can get away with ignoring demonstrations that oppose their misrule. The largest demonstration in British history took place in London in February 2003 in order to stop Blair from invading Iraq.  One needs to ask how effective are all the demonstrations against austerity of the last five years been if those with power, the government and the media, simply ignore them?

Any movement campaigning to significantly extend democratic rights will find itself in a collision course with the state (if not the law also). Would women have the right to vote if they limited their actions by considerations of legality?

Democracy cannot simply be reduced to putting a cross on a ballot paper every four (or now five) years. Real democracy comes from the people –  it is what we do. It is not what government does to us.

We must, therefore, reject any attempt by the police or the local authority to dictate to us, by imposing unreasonable conditions, in the manner and form of our occupation,


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