Protests at Chichester's Market Cross for Extinction Rebellion's 'Kill the Bill'

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Dozens of protesters gathered in Chichester's city centre to show their objection to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is being voted on in Parliament next week.

The Kill the Bill protests took place today (Monday, January 10) between 11am and 3pm where protesters invited passers-by to discuss the issue and to receive information on the bill.

The controversial bill allows the police to enforce 'conditions' on protests if they cause 'serious annoyance' to local communities, organisations or the environment. It is the belief of the protesters that these 'conditions' actually facilitate a banning of a protest.

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In attendance was Sarah Sharp, Green Party councillor for West Sussex County Council, Chichester District Council and Chichester City Council, who explained why she was standing with Extinction Rebellion in opposing the bill.

Kill the Bill protests in Chichester's Market CrossKill the Bill protests in Chichester's Market Cross
Kill the Bill protests in Chichester's Market Cross

She said: "I've been involved in protests in the past [and I am here as] I need to safeguard for me and for other people, the ability to take part in protest in the future. This bill is not a good thing, I think we are sleepwalking into a very dangerous situation, so that is my motivation [for being here]."

Cllr Sharp explained she had been a part of many protests in the past, including the protests to keep Chichester court open and to save Rumboldswhyke CE Infants’ School. She was joined at the protest by Councillor Deborah Carter, who echoed Cllr Sharp's views on the importance of protest.

Cllr Carter said: "It is quite frightening that we are losing the ability to protest. As women, we [Cllr Sharp and she] would not be here without protest, we wouldn't have been elected, we wouldn't have the vote".

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Cllr Sharp and Cllr Carter then highlighted all of the great significant social developments that would have never happened if there was a law like the police crime and sentencing and courts bill banning protest, such as apartheid and the suffragettes.

Kill the Bill protests at Chichester's Market CrossKill the Bill protests at Chichester's Market Cross
Kill the Bill protests at Chichester's Market Cross
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George Hibberd lives in Croydon, London but travelled back to his native Chichester to protest the bill, he is a member of Extinction Rebellion and felt strongly that the bill, being voted on Monday January 17, was a huge threat to basic human rights.

Mr Hibberd said: "We have a proud, long tradition of protest in this country, [like] fighting for working class rights, or something as basic as having a weekend, workers' rights, gay marriage, civil rights, you name it, have all been won by peaceful protest, which is just about to be taken away from us during a pandemic, when no one is noticing."

He continued: "With the greatest respect, the media haven't reported on it very much, which is a real shame because when you speak to most people, they agree that protest is a basic human right"

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In recent years both Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain have received strong criticism from certain sectors of the community, with people questioning the need to disrupt people's daily lives in such a manner and the impact the protests can have upon emergency services.

To those that chastise Extinction Rebellion for the manner of its demonstrations Mr Hibberd said: "Have you ever heard of a basic right that has been won by protest that didn't cause disruption of any kind to anyone? The suffragettes smashed windows for example, they were vilified at the time but we now look at them as heroes of the past."