Kill the Bill Leeds: Hundreds gather on Woodhouse Moor to protest against new police powers
Hundreds of people gathered in Leeds in protest against proposed new police powers.
The 'Kill the Bill' protest took place by the Robert Peel statue on Woodhouse Moor at 3pm this afternoon (Saturday).
Part of a nationwide day of action, the protests have been sparked by the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which would give police in England and Wales more power to impose conditions on non-violent protests, including those deemed too noisy or a nuisance, with those convicted liable to fines or jail terms.
It is not yet law and its passage through parliament has already been delayed.
Hundreds of people marched through Leeds city centre at the start of April to oppose the bill.
Protests in cities such as Bristol have seen violence over the past few months, but the demonstration on Woodhouse Moor was peaceful.
Most protesters were wearing masks and keeping socially distant, while a handful of police of police officers looked on.
There were anti-police chants and attendees were asked not to film or take photos as they were told this information could be used by the police.
There were a variety of speakers, including a sex worker organisation, the University and College Union and the Racial Justice Network, which is based in West Yorkshire.
Sharon from Racial Justice Network told the crowd : "It feels like a great day to kill the bill, doesn't it?
"Let's take a moment to think about all those who bear the brunt of oppressive, draconian policing and state violence who could not join us today because of what it would mean for their lives.
"Those from black and brown communities, roma and travelling communities, those seeking refuge from violence, those who have had their bodies criminalised by the police and the state for daring to survive, but most importantly, thrive.
"We will thrive, we are thriving. The police have never protected us, they will never protect us and they cannot protect us as much as we can protect ourselves.
"We cannot rely on them to protect us or even to protect us from the biggest gang ever seen in the world - themselves.
"While marginalised communities and bodies bear the heavy brunt of the bill, the introduction of this bill affects us all .
"We must continue to divest in the police and seek to find solutions within our communities by listening to marginalised people and communities."
A Home Office spokesman said: “The right to protest is a cornerstone of our democracy, but over recent years we have seen an increase in the use of disruptive and dangerous tactics.
“It is totally unacceptable to smash up private property, block emergency vehicles and prevent the printing press from distributing newspapers.
“The Government will not stand by as the rights and freedoms of individuals, businesses and communities are trampled upon by a minority.
“These new measures will not stop people from carrying out their civic right to protest and be heard, but will prevent large scale disruption – enabling the silent majority to get on with their lives.”
In total, 46 kill the bill protests were expected across the UK today.
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