By 4Front Team:
On May 1st, 4Front joined with organisations and communities from across the country to protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Through our work, we know that increasing police powers will only lead to further harm. There are already stark racial disparities within the criminal justice system which we are actively fighting against. This bill will further entrench that injustice.
We joined thousands of people in Central London and spoke out about just some of what the Bill proposes to do to our communities. Although the Bill’s attack on our freedom to protest has quite rightly been a focus of much public outrage, we know that there are some aspects that deserve more attention. You can read more about these aspects in our Kill The Bill explainer from last week.
4Front team members spoke out about some of these issues, with Chris discussing the proposals on imprisonment and their intensification of harm. He explained that “this bill wants to increase the time that young people spend in prison by ending halfway release. We say no! Prisons do not work. Prisons stop young people from reaching opportunities in the outside world. They are violent and traumatic. We need empowerment for our youth, not imprisonment.”
Another team member, Shanea reminded the crowd of some of the names of people killed by the state in the UK, including Sarah Reed, Mark Duggan and Rashan Charles. She discussed proposals in the Bill that force local authorities and support workers to answer to police on violence reduction strategies, asking the crowd “what do the police know about reducing violence? When have we ever seen police reduce violence? Every day these systems harm us.”.
Emmanuel confronted the Bill’s frightening proposals on ‘Secure Academies’, that seeks to lock up 16-19 year olds in prison-school hybrids that will be run by private companies for supposedly ‘charitable’ purposes. He clearly stated that “Secure schools are a form of prison.” Focusing on the existing forms of racist harassment and isolation to which many young people are subjected, he added “I am sick of having to hear about cases of young Black men being stopped and searched, of young people being excluded from schools. We are over criminalised and under protected by a system, a state, a culture that focuses on violence at its core.”
We were proud to stand against the Bill and speak about just some of the ways in which it will impact our members, their friends, families and our communities more widely. We were proud to stand shoulder to shoulder in this fight with so many others. From expanding stop and search to new forms of surveillance to extending prison sentences and forcing local authorities to share young people’s data with police, we must #KillTheBill and its attack on our communities. As Emmanuel said so clearly at the protest: “we need to divest from these punitive, racist, ableist, homophobic institutions that harm and criminalise and attack us day in and day out.”