May Day, May Day, May Day! Moves to Kill the Bill grow louder and stronger.

Police on beach in front of a KTB banner

Calls have gone out around the UK for the latest Kill the Bill (KTB) demonstrations on Saturday 1 May. This is also a longstanding international day of solidarity for unions and workers. So around the country, many unions have called actions to march in solidarity with KTB protesters. This year, May Day protests will be bigger than ever as the fight to Kill the Bill gathers momentum.

The bill “must go”

Around the UK, coalitions have grown to oppose the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSCB). The bill is currently at committee stage in parliament. Since passing its second vote, there have been demonstrations every weekend. Feminist activists Sisters Uncut, along with Black Lives Matter UK, have been at the forefront of groups taking action to #KillTheBill.

As an open statement signed by a growing number of groups (including Phoenix Media Co-op) around the country notes, there’s “no version of this Bill that is tolerable” because it:

intensifies police brutality against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, and criminalises their way of life. This must go.

The Bill gives the police the power to criminalise protests for being “noisy”, disruptive or “annoying”. This must go.

The Bill uses ‘protecting’ women as a cover to expand police powers and increase custodial sentences. These measures are not sufficient to prevent violence, and are troubling considering police officers’ implication in cases of violence against women. This must go.

The Bill expands stop and search powers, which are already regularly used to harass and terrorise young black people. This must go.

The Bill will silence the calls for justice by families of those whose loved ones have died at the hands of the police. This must go.

The Bill makes those at the sharpest edge of state violence even more unsafe – including migrants, sex workers, Disabled people, and racialised communities.

Whose streets? Our streets!

From London to CornwallBristol, Wales and Manchester, on Saturday 1 May protesters will take to the streets:

Since the outset, some unions have backed action against the bill because it also threatens to criminalise pickets. As the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) explains:

The wording of the bill covers almost every form of picket, workers’ protest or other industrial action.  It represents an existential threat to workers’ organising and to protest more broadly.  The repression that we have seen to date has been enabled by the existing powers that police already hold.  This bill effectively outlaws protest.

Similarly, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has also supported actions from the outset:

Around the world, 1 May (aka May Day) has long been recognised as International Workers’ Day. This is a day to celebrate workers’ achievements and stand in solidarity with all workers, and a day to protest for greater rights.  Now, other large unions are also joining in to support moves to #KillTheBill.

A call has gone out from the University and College Union (UCU), and Phoenix Media Co-op understands that some Unite branches have called for the UK’s largest union to back protests against the PCSCB.

Banners, marches and direct action

May Day 2021 looks set to see thousands taking to the streets. Because the PCSCB is such a dangerous bit of legislation that threatens so many basic rights, it’s united feminists, anti-racists, and Gypsy, Roma, and Travelling (GRT) communities into mass mobilisation. 1 May sees this solidarity grow even further with unions and workers.

Meanwhile, Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) has said it’s creating an online space for Saturday so people who can’t attend a physical protest can still take part. This will include a virtual stall area – where people can find out more about groups involved in the fight against the bill.

Thousands of people will march with banners. Most will shout louder than ever before to #KillTheBill. And some people may want to push things a little further to play May Day Bingo… However, it’s important for everyone heading out on the streets to know their rights and stand up to police harassment and intimidation.

For many years, protesters have asked, ‘When our rights are under attack, what do we do?’. On 1 May 2021, the call to ‘Stand up, fight back!’ comes louder and clearer than ever.

Main image by picturingresistance (used with permission)