Thousands attend Kill the Bill protest in Sheffield

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More than a thousand protesters gathered in Sheffield city centre in a second ‘Kill the Bill’ march today.

The gathering at Devonshire Green was one of many taking place around the country, against what is seen as a Government crackdown on the right to protest.

It opposed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will give police more powers to restrict and criminalise protests.

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The demonstration at 1pm was peaceful and people made every effort to observe social distancing rules as speakers gave several perspectives on why they objected to the Bill.

Protesters and the  Killl the Bill demo at Devonshire Green, Sheffield.Protesters and the  Killl the Bill demo at Devonshire Green, Sheffield.
Protesters and the Killl the Bill demo at Devonshire Green, Sheffield.

It was organised by a coalition of trade union, political and civil rights groups, campaigners against sexual harassment of women and environmental groups, who see it as part of a concerted effort to silence them.

Maxine Bowler vice president of Sheffield Trades Council, said the Bill was unnecessary. “The police have lots of legislation they can use, “ she said.

"From a trade union perspective they will be trying to stop us protesting as lots of people lose their jobs due to the pandemic. Hopefully people will fight back against them being made to pay the price for it.”

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An Extinction Rebellion protester said the Police Bill had been framed by Home Secretary Priti Patel specifically to characterise Black lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion as a threat.

Yasmin Plews of Take The Knee Sheffield .Yasmin Plews of Take The Knee Sheffield .
Yasmin Plews of Take The Knee Sheffield .

"She’s described both groups as terrorists in the past and the Bill is now an attempt to put in law restrictions to protest. But along with that comes criminalisation of trespass which is going to very literally make a way of life for Gypsy Roma and traveller communities illegal and could potentially lead o them having their homes seized. It’s one of the most alarming and authoritarian pieces of legislation I’ve seen in my lifetime.”

The demo was attended by a mixture of age groups, with families. one mother said: “Both of my children were brought up on the road an this will basically make their history illegal.”

Yasmin Plews of Take The Knee (TKK) Sheffield, said:

“This policing bill will give the police powers to be able to stop peaceful protest if they think that in their opinion it shouldn’t be going on. That is an infringement on our civil rights.

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“At TTK we kneel in protest every week. Actually in Sheffield the police have been very supportive but if they choose not to be, this bill will give them the right to not support us.

“And we get radical racists coming up to us an a lot of the time we do need protecting. We don’t want to sleepwalk into an authoritarian regime and the more and more people realise that the more important it becomes to be individually present.”

A member of the Sheffield Campaign against sexual harrasment added: “Since hearing of the murder of Sarah Everard social media sites have been flooded with the rage of women and girls against the other global pandemic – violence against women and girls thousands of stories of routine abuse on the street, at home and work.

“The law should change to reflect that but explanatory notes of Bill do not mention women once. They do mention statues several times. Women don’t matter as much as cars or fly tippers. The law should be changing that. They forgot women.”