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Right To Protest - Liverpool Demo

pinkolady | 12.01.2008 18:27 | SOCPA | Repression | Liverpool

On Saturday 12th January, Liverpool activists from a variety of groups, campaigns and political persuasions held an unauthorised march through the city centre to assert their freedom to protest, in the face of increasing harrassment from the police and city wardens. It was also a protest against plans by central government to severely restrict the right to demonstrate nationwide, by amending the Serious Organised Crime and Policing Act (SOCPA).

The police and city wardens have been stifling protest by verbally bullying and threatening to arrest compaigners who are LEGALLY giving out leaflets or holding stalls in the city. One example is the animal rights activist who was roughed up by the police for handing out leaflets on Mathew Street (see previous posting.) Two weekends ago, the Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! group had their stall surrounded by five city wardens who threatened to arrest them if they didn't move.
The marchers - who had not applied for "police permission" - went from Mathew Street through the city centre to Municipal Buildings, where they delivered a letter of protest to Warren Bradley, the leader of the city council. Then the march continued to Merseyside Police Headquarters in Canning Place, where another letter of protest was handed to the Chief Inspector, Martin Smith. The demonstration wound back through the city centre and ended in what has become a regular Saturday afternoon protest outside Cricket, the fur-selling shop in Mathew Street.
In spite of lacking authorisation, we were not stopped, followed, or held up by inquisitive police officers at any point. We suspect they had got wind of the protest beforehand - coppers read websites too! The two coppers who met the demonstration outside Cricket could not have been pleasanter. They asked us to "assist them" in keeping the street clear for pedestrians to pass through. This is quite a contrast to their previous attitude to the anti-fur protest.
We are not fooled. Maintaining our right to campaign will take more than a single protest march. It will take constant assertion of that right.
Liverpool City Council employs the city wardens and controls the police locally, and deals with complaints about them. Anybody who has anything to say on the subject can email the city council leader Warren Bradley at:
If you want to reply to the Home Office consultation on managing protest, you have until 17th January. You can read the consultation document at, and get more information from