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Bill to Let Police Halt Protests Draws Thousands to Streets

Crowds hear speeches in dozens of cities in England, Wales
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2021 2:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Thousands of people demonstrated in dozens of English and Welsh cities Saturday against proposed legislation that would broaden the ability of police to shut down protests. In London, crowds marched from Hyde Park to Parliament, hearing speeches against the bill in both places, the Guardian reports. Protesters and officers clashed in Parliament Square. The legislation, which is moving through Parliament, would let police break up peaceful demonstrations if they think they're disruptive. The bill is "part of an authoritarian drive from this government," a Labor Party MP told the crowd in Hyde Park. "We can see it in everything they have been doing recently, from voter ID registration to anti-union laws and now anti-protest laws." The "Kill the bill" protests were also held in Birmingham, Liverpool, Oxford, Cardiff, and other cities.

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Women carried anti-sexism signs, including "Don't tell us how to dress, tell them not to rape," per the AP, and chanted, "Women scared everywhere, police and government do not care!" The messages are references to the aftermath of the killing of Sarah Everard in London last month as she walked home. Speakers on Saturday represented groups including UK Black Lives Matter, Global Majority, Extinction Rebellion, and the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn told the demonstrators outside Parliament that protest movements have changed history, a process that is now under threat from legislation that "effectively criminalizes peaceful protest.” (Read more protests stories.)

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