The Post Bag: Letters To Squall
Squall 08, Autumn 1994, pg. 53.
I went to Cambridge to do my shopping and ended up on an anti-Criminal Justice Bill demonstration. It was like pantomime, wandering round the Guildhall trying to rally discreetly (all three of us) and not attract the attention of the copper with the photocopied piece of paper. However, within ten minutes of official ‘kick-off a surprisingly large crowd had gathered (as if by magic) and (equally magical) contained a broad cross section of society. I had hoped the Morris Dancers were there to be our vanguard but, alas, they were only there for the tourists.
And so, in a sense, were we as we marched around town. (American tourist: "Gee it’s just like being in Washington!") Some of the final speeches showed a shade too much pity for the police being forced into enforcing repressive laws (the poor darlings). For some reason "KILL THE BILL" was the most popular chant on the march. I'm not sure if “kill the Act” will be quite so effective.
The rally ended with a final piece of political theatre - the burning of a copy of the Bill.... Just how far will those flames spread? Our rights are not lost through a piece of legislation. Our rights are lost when we give up fighting for them. The campaign against the Poll Tax showed that the law is nothing but an expensive pantomime when it is unenforced. This Act should be made unenforcable by mass trespassing, squatting, a determination to keep silent in custody, whatever. We should also be prepared to move from protesting to resiting ALL of the shit in this society, however ‘established' or justified in law.
For more articles about the Criminal Justice Act and Public Order Act 1994 - covering the build-up, the resistance, the consequences, plus commentary of discussions in the House of Commons about it click here.