Corona Contract: Defeat the police crackdown bill, UCU Branch Motion

This branch notes:

  1. A vigil was organised on Saturday 13 March 2021 on Clapham Common in memory of Sarah Everard who was allegedly murdered by an off-duty police officer.  Other vigils were also organised across London and across Britain.
  2. Despite the court ruling that the police could give permission for the vigil to go ahead the Metropolitan police banned the vigil citing Covid-19 regulations. 
  3. The vigil in Clapham Common went ahead with the aid of feminist group Sisters Uncut before being dispersed by the police. 
  4. On the 16 March 2021, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 passed its second reading in parliament. The bill contains new limits on the right to protest, sweeping new powers for the police, the criminalisation of Gypsy Roma Traveller communities and increased stop and search powers. Damage to memorials, such as the statue of slave trader Edward Colston that was toppled during last year’s Black Lives Matter protest, could carry a 10 year prison sentence. 

This branch believes: 

  1. The police response to the vigil in Clapham Common was a violent and outrageous abuse of power. Women standing up against gendered and state violence should be respected, not be arrested and physically manhandled. 
  2. The use of Covid-19 restrictions to limit free assembly is a prelude to a more general clampdown. Research indicates little or no risk of transmission in open air spaces when participants are socially distanced and masked. 
  3. Trade unions will be adversely affected by the criminalisation of basic forms of protest. These limitations only add to the existing punitive restrictions placed on trade unions by decades of anti-union legislation. These measures may diminish our ability to legally assemble, to protest against our employers and to picket our place of work. This would destroy the most basic forms of resistance available to trade unions. 
  4. Moreover, we have a responsibility to stand with oppressed groups who will face renewed gendered and racialised attacks on the basis of the new legislation. 

This branch resolves:

  1. Support Sisters Uncut, BLMUK, People‚Äôs Assembly, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller organisations and other forces mobilising and demonstrating against the bill by publishing a statement of support and encouraging members to attend protests where possible. 
  2. Commit funds or practical support to an arrest fund
  3. Call on the national union to commit to campaign against the Police Bill long term