Protestors: ‘This is about our freedom’
Protestors took to the streets on Saturday (May 1) to challenge a proposed policing bill which would restrict the public’s right to protest.
The protestors met up in Priory Park at midday and set off down North Street with signs, masks and megaphones.
The group gathered at the Market Cross where they made speeches, played music and led chants until they dispersed at 1.30pm.
The wet and windy weather wasn’t enough to deter protestors to oppose the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is still being discussed in Parliament.
If passed, critics say the bill would severely restrict the public’s right to protest by imposing noise and time limits on all public demonstrations.
Those who refuse to listen to police instruction could face fines of up to £2,500.
The broad scope of the bill means it has attracted criticism from a wide range of communities, cultures
and social groups.
“I’m trans and we’re seeing a lot of kickback on trans rights at the moment,” said 28-year-old protestor Sam.
“I’m quite scared about losing the right to protest because of that.”
The protestors might have come from a variety of organisations and for a variety of reasons but they were united by their belief in freedom of speech.
“This is about our freedom to call out the world,” said Connor, aged 19. “If we’re going to have any chance to create a future worth living in, we need to be able to change stuff and this bill is designed to stop us from doing that.”
Fellow protestor Tamsin, 19, added: “It’s just a basic human right. This isn’t just for radical elements, it’s about your right to speech.”
Their ideas were echoed by Phil Wilson, one of the event’s organisers and chair of the Chichester District Trades Council.
He said: “People’s concern about the bill and what it contains is obviously substantial enough for them to be doing this.
“Chichester isn’t any different to any other city. We still have concerns and doubts and issues about what the government is doing.”