Thou Shalt Not Demonstrate
I was interested to see the following announcement in today’s London Evening Standard:
It caught my eye, buried even though it was in the Jobs section. What byelaws, specific to Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square, could our dear Mayor be drafting in such a hurry? So, I had a look. You can find the full text of the byelaws here.
I found that, buried among various rules making it a criminal offence to feed birds or fly kites (yes, you read that right), it contained some astonishing and highly undemocratic rules effectively stifling peaceful protest. No doubt Boris Johnson is thinking of the upcoming Olympics and what an embarrassment it would be to have poor people protesting near tourists. The byelaws make it an offence, inter alia, to
- erect or keep erected any tent or similar structure
- display any sign
- make or give any speech or public address
and astonishingly even
- fail to comply with a reasonable direction given by an authorised person to leave the square.
It is my belief that this is an outrageous and unprecedented attack on our freedom as citizens. The notice explains that any objection to the confirmation of the Byelaws may be made by letter addressed to Carl Schnackenberg, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH, or by email to: Carl.Schnackenberg@Culture.gsi.gov.uk.
I have written. Will you spare five minutes to make your sentiments known?