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Kaiser Chiefs: ‘We predict a riot if government criminalises peaceful protest’ – Kaiser Chiefs


The Government’s new Policing Bill cracks down heavily on peaceful protesters at a time when we face a continuous onslaught on our freedoms, write the Kaiser Chiefs

“If the Government has its way, we could be threatened with arrest for doing what we’ve always been told to do: the right thing”

Lately, amid our brief interlude with the internet’s most ardent anti-vax trolls, we’ve been really thinking about what we say, how we use our voice and how our fans use theirs – as well as perhaps our detractors.

What do we do when we see something unjust or unfair? When we see something that makes us want to act?

Soon speaking up for ourselves and others might feel a lot riskier. The ordinary human impulse is – we’d hope – to call out when we see something wrong, to sound the alarm on behalf of or in ally-ship with others.

It’s laid down early in playground rules, and reinforced in the rights and wrongs of parenting, teaching and even music.

But if the Government has its way, we could be threatened with arrest for doing what we’ve always been told to do : the right thing.

We don’t usually write opinion pieces as a band. Over the years though we have been long-standing supporters of human rights campaigns, including in our role as Amnesty International Ambassadors, and we encourage our fans to join us.

Kaiser Chiefs are speaking out against draconian new laws that would slap lengthy prison sentences on protesters found to be ‘noisy’

People joining with others to make our voices heard collectively is part of how democracy works. It’s such an important part of who we are in this country and why we love living here.

The Government’s Policing Bill being discussed at the moment though, could make that a whole lot harder if it’s passed unamended. For a start it creates powers to restrict protests if whoever is in charge thinks it might be too ‘noisy’ or might cause ‘unease’ – both, you might think, are defining features of a protest.

There are times we should make a noise especially when we face such a continuous onslaught on our freedoms.

People speaking out on important issues could also be threatened with arrest if they are perceived to be having a ‘relevant impact’ which, again, is surely the point. Worse still, there are lengthy prison terms being threatened for breaching conditions, even if those conditions are unjust.

The Met Police came under fire for their heavy-handed attitude towards women at Sarah Everard’s vigil in March this year



People could even be faced with arrest if they didn’t realise the conditions existed in the first place.

Politicians talk a lot about Britain’s fine tradition of liberty. At the same time it’s worth remembering that the people who created that tradition by campaigning for the freedoms we enjoy today were the nuisance-makers of their time.

They faced being beaten, imprisoned, denounced or worse under contemporary laws.

So what will happen if the Bill passes as is? Probably fewer people engaging in the democratic process, possibly people imprisoned here in the UK just for acting on their conscience, and almost certainly unnecessary conflict where ordinary citizens do seek to demonstrate.

As policing experts have warned: the best way to start a riot is to stop a peaceful protest.

Join us and take action with Amnesty’s Week of Action.

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