Campaigners from the Kill the Bill coalition say the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which both finally passed parliament this week, signal the “erasure of civil liberties.”
The Policing Bill grants police the power to restrict protests which are deemed too “noisy”, while the Borders Bill has introduced a range of immigration powers, including the power to process asylum seekers offshore.
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Both bills were the subject of ongoing protests, including widespread Kill the Bill rallies across the country in March 2021 and January 2022.
Home secretary Priti Patel said the Borders Bill represented “the first step in overhauling our decades-old, broken asylum system.”
But campaigners have said the bills’ passage would not stop their efforts.
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Labour MP Nadia Whittome said the laws were an attempt to demonise marginalised groups.
She said: “The passing of these bills is another dangerous turn towards authoritarianism. They will take away people’s rights – to citizenship, to protest, to asylum and more.”
Bhavini Patel, an activist with Kill the Bill and Extinction Rebellion, said the new laws terrified her.
She added: “I stand united with all those seeking justice, ready to support my brothers and sisters in the communities worse affected by this unbelievable attack on our rights and am ready to make the Bills unenforceable.”
Former police officer Chantelle Lunt, now a Black Lives Matter activist, said: “As a former police officer, who left the force due to institutional racism and misogyny in the ranks, I know that these new police powers will be abused to harm marginalised and minority communities.
“We, the public, did not consign to living in a police state and we must collectively withdraw consent to unfettered police powers.”
The Policing Bill also drew resistance to measures which campaigners said discriminated against Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities.
Jake Bowers, co-chair of the Drive 2 Survive campaign group, said the bill’s passage means police have greater powers to persecute nomadic Gypsies and Travellers.
He added: “So what now? Do give up and accept our fate? No chance.”
Andy Greene, an activist from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “This law is wrong. It won’t take away our voices because we have fought too hard to be heard. But they will try to divide us. And to criminalise us for fighting for our lives.
“We won’t let them. We dare not. This law won’t stop us. See you in the streets.”
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