What the recent arrests of anti-monarchy protesters by the Met police reveal about our core liberties – Screen Shot
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What the recent arrests of anti-monarchy protesters by the Met police reveal about our core liberties

On Saturday 6 May 2023, while King Charles was being handed the most decadent sword in all of history, a group of six anti-monarchy protesters were arrested in London as they tried to exercise their democratic right. Placards in hand and inside of a car the group were hauled out of the centre of the city and arrested by guess who? None other than the Metropolitan police. Is anyone surprised?

Why are protesters in the UK under threat right now?

In 2022, a new bill was announced by the British government which laid out plans to massively restrict the freedom and rights of protesters in the UK. The Public Order Act received royal assent and therefore became an act of Parliament on 2 May 2023. And from what we can see, it’s already become a very useful tool for the ever-aggressive Met police.

The bill is quite extensive, but overall its primary powers revolve around the fact that the police now have far greater powers when it comes to stopping, halting, or completely stamping out any and all protests they deem “disruptive.” Of course, as far as the British government is concerned, every protest is “disruptive.

In most countries, a constitutional right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly feels as though it should be an assured facet of everyday life. The problem is, UK institutions have decided to redefine what’s considered peaceful, and what’s not—this undemocratic shift massively impacts the rights of not only activists but also average citizens.

Current UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made it abundantly clear that he supports the police when it comes to cracking down harder on activists. In a statement in January of this year, Sunak announced: “The right to protest is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but this is not absolute. A balance must be struck between the rights of individuals and the rights of the hard-working majority to go about their day-to-day business.”

The political leader carried on: “We cannot have protests conducted by a small minority disrupting the lives of the ordinary public. It’s not acceptable and we’re going to bring it to an end. The police asked us for more clarity to crack down on these guerrilla tactics, and we have listened.

Since when did holding up placards and chanting constitute guerrilla tactics? One of the primary kinds of activism the government is trying to quash is the disruption of public transport and railways, as well as the method of locking oneself to buildings or objects.

The sad truth of the matter is, Sunak and the rest of the Conservative party would rather give the authorities greater power to keep activists locked in prison, then address the legitimate problems this country is currently facing.

The Met police expresses “regret” for arresting the six anti-monarchy protesters

In a highly embarrassing and somewhat satisfying result, The Met police later apologised for arresting the six protestors on Coronation day. According to the BBC, Republic chief executive Graham Smith, who was among the group, said he has now received a personal apology from police officers. Smith stated: “They seemed rather embarrassed to be honest.” The activist also stated that the group would be taking action against the authorities.

A statement, publicised by the Met police following the release read: “We regret the arrests that were made at today’s protest. We respect the right to peaceful protest and we understand the importance of raising awareness of important issues such as climate change. However, we had no choice but to take action when protesters began to obstruct the highway and disrupt the coronation ceremony.

Members of Westminster City Council’s women’s safety campaign Night Stars, which distributes rape alarms and other goods, were also among the 64 persons detained on Saturday. Police had claimed that intelligence alleged the group were planning on using the alarms during the Coronation—in order to disrupt the procession, as reported by The Guardian.

Our generation has the power to shape the future and explore new ways of governing that accurately reflect our values and aspirations. These recent arrests clearly emphasise that the future we’ve all been worried about is already here.

New report reveals that the Met Police is rotten and riddled with toxic cultures. Can anything be done?

That’s it everyone—it’s now officially been stated. The Met Police is riddled with bullying, poor leadership, misogyny, and its “rotten” treatment of black people.

Following the abduction, rape, and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met Police officer back in March 2021, Baroness Dame Louise Casey was appointed to lead an independent review into standards within the police force responsible for law enforcement and the prevention of crime in Greater London.

Even before the government official—who specialises in social welfare—released her 363-page report on Tuesday 21 March 2023, things hadn’t been looking good for forces across the country. A 2022 report commissioned by the former Home Secretary, Priti Patel, had found that hundreds of individuals who should have failed their vetting checks were in fact serving as active police officers.

Around the same time, government figures also indicated that mass numbers of officers were leaving UK law enforcement, clearly a symptom of the depreciating standards in leadership. Everard’s brutal killing undeniably shed light on the police’s highly worrying inefficiency to deal with misogyny and misconduct within its own ranks, in turn putting all of us at risk.

Dame Casey’s final report has revealed disturbing details of sexual assaults, more often than not covered up or downplayed, with 12 per cent of women in the Met saying they had been harassed or attacked at work, and one-third experiencing sexism.

The government went as far as saying that the capital’s police service may have more officers like the killer Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick. No matter how terrifying this statement is, it’s also far from surprising when looking at the Met’s poor leadership and organisation.

And it seems that Dame Casey’s review also blames Londoners’ lack of confidence in its law enforcement—with just 50 per cent of the public expressing confidence even before revelations about the force’s worst recent scandals—on its past leadership.

“Public respect has fallen to a low point. Londoners who do not have confidence in the Met outnumber those who do, and these measures have been lower amongst black Londoners for years,” she wrote, continuing, “The Met has yet to free itself of institutional racism. Public consent is broken. The Met has become unanchored from the Peelian principle of policing by consent set out when it was established.”

The report highlighted a bullying culture, one that leaves frontline officers demoralised and feeling let down by their leaders, with discrimination “baked into the system.” Not only are Met officers harassing women, black people, and many other citizens, but they’re also often victims themselves.

Dame Casey revealed that one Muslim officer had bacon stuffed in his boots, and a Sikh officer had his beard cut. It was pointed out that minority ethnic officers were much more likely to be disciplined or leave, and that Britain’s biggest force remains disproportionately white in a city that is increasingly diverse.

In a news briefing held to unveil what she described as “very grave and serious” findings, Dame Casey aptly asked, “What would it take for policing to wake up that it has to be different?” It’s clear to see that the Met Police is failing on so many levels that even a complete restructuring and a radical shake-up might not be enough to change anything.

London mayor Sadiq Khan—who, it should be noted, had not used the word “institutionally” once when speaking about the prejudice in the force he’s been overseeing ever since coming to power in 2016—made it obvious that he agrees with Dame Casey’s verdicts.

“The evidence is damning. Baroness Casey has found institutional racism, misogyny and homophobia, which I accept. I’ll be unflinching in my resolve to support and hold the new commissioner to account as he works to overhaul the force,” Khan said following the recent release of the review.

On the other hand, although Sir Mark Rowley, the force’s commissioner since September 2022, said he accepted the report’s factual findings about racism, misogyny, and homophobia in his organisation, the commissioner also added that he wanted more time to study Dame Casey’s recommendations. In fact, Sir Rowley went as far as to point blank refuse to admit that such findings were “institutional.”

“I have to use practical, unambiguous, apolitical language… I don’t think it fits those criteria. It’s simply a term I’m not going to use myself,” he said. It’s pretty evident that the Met police, a public institution once considered the backbone of the UK, is truly past the point of saving.