We must remember why the protests are happening.
Peaceful protest is a fundamental right. It’s a pillar of our democracy – a way for the voiceless to be heard. Eroding these rights puts will change our democracy for the worse.
This authoritarian Conservative Government is trying to silence any opposition to their plans. This is deeply unconservative and the actions of a radical right. If their policing bill was proposed in another country, say China – our Government would rightly decry it as a threat to democracy.
The protests have brought national attention to this issue, that previously had little media focus. But none of that justifies or excuses the violence we have seen.
Greens are always for peace, and we will always stand with the voiceless.
We know that the vast majority of individuals present have conducted themselves beyond reproach: protestors, police officers and media.
We condemn those few rioters who couldn’t control themselves and undermined the cause they claim to support – defending peaceful protest. We have seen upsetting attacks including shooting fireworks at police horses, hurling bricks and bottles at officers and setting police vans on fire. This is disgraceful and those criminal acts must be investigated fully and perpetrators brought to justice.
We also know that most police officers have had to tread a very difficult path – most have managed it, and we are grateful to them and support them fully. But sadly, some officers appear to have failed the test. The police need to investigate quickly and ensure justice is served. We have been appalled by the use of defensive riot shields to batter people sat peacefully on the ground. Reporters too have been targeted – a free and Independent press is another pillar of our democracy and must not be silenced.
We know many members of the public are unhappy about protests taking place during a pandemic. This is a valid concern and we would ask the police to facilitate any further protests to allow protestors to follow the rules on social distancing. The laws on protest relax on Monday – it is sensible for further protests to wait until then.
Peaceful protests must be permitted, but we call on all sides – police and protestors alike – to pledge their deep commitment to peace and the principle of the right to protest. After all, our democracy is at stake.