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‘Not my King’: Anti-monarchy protesters face police crackdown within the UK


Whereas 1000’s of individuals have taken to the streets of the UK to recollect Queen Elizabeth II following her demise final week, critics of the monarchy have used this chance to protest, holding indicators equivalent to “not my King” – a reference to the brand new King Charles III. Police have intervened and, in some instances, arrested protesters, elevating critical questions on the best way by which some forces are cracking down on dissent within the nation.

Liberty, a civil rights advocacy group, expressed its concern, saying in an announcement: “It is vitally worrying to see the police implementing their broad powers in such a heavy-handed and punitive solution to clamp down on free speech and expression.”

CNN spoke to a few of those that confronted police motion this week after publicly criticizing the royal household.

Symon Hill, from Oxford, was on his approach residence from church on Sunday at about 12:30 pm The 45-year-old advised CNN that the roads within the metropolis middle had been cordoned off for a procession, making it arduous for him to get by means of the crowds. Realizing King Charles III’s accession was about to be proclaimed by native officers, Hill determined to hear relatively than push by means of to get residence.

“They began studying out about Elizabeth II and expressing grief for her demise,” Hill stated. “I actually would not interrupt that. I’ve by no means intruded on an act of mourning. That is not one thing I’d ever do.”

However when King Charles was declared to be “our solely lawful and rightful Liege Lord,” Hill stated he known as out: “Who elected him?”

“Solely folks actually close by may have heard. A few folks advised me to close up. I responded {that a} Head of State is being imposed with out our consent,” one thing he discovered “arduous to abdomen.”

Anti-monarchy protesters hold up blank signs during royal ceremonies in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Hill stated he was “gobsmacked” by what occurred subsequent, describing how he was pushed again by safety guards. “Then police intervened, grabbed maintain of me, handcuffed me, and put me at the back of a police van,” he stated. “It was in all probability not more than 5 minutes since I would known as out ‘who elected him?’”

Hill stated that, as soon as he was within the police van, he repeatedly requested officers what legislation he was being arrested beneath. “They did not appear to be very positive, which is sort of worrying. Certainly arbitrary arrest just isn’t one thing we should always have in a democratic society.”

Hill stated he was given conflicting causes for his arrest, as police had been uncertain about whether or not to take him into custody.

“After numerous the police speaking to one another and to their superiors by means of their radios, the policeman within the van with me advised me that I would be de-arrested and brought residence, however that I’d be contacted and requested to present an interview at a later date. He stated I may nonetheless be charged with one thing. Even at this level they hadn’t answered my questions on beneath what legislation I would been arrested beneath.”

An anti-monarchy protester approaches the media outside the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

Hill stated he was advised by cops on the drive residence that he had been arrested beneath the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, a controversial piece of laws launched this 12 months which widens police powers to clamp down on protests.

Nonetheless, an announcement from Thames Valley Police to CNN on Wednesday stated Hill had been arrested beneath Part 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which covers offenses inflicting “harassment, alarm or misery.”

The confusion exhibits the uncertainty surrounding the proper to free expression within the UK, after the 2022 Act “broaden[ed] the vary of circumstances by which police might impose circumstances on a protest.” Underneath clause 78 of the brand new Act, it’s an offense for protesters to “deliberately or recklessly trigger[e] public nuisance” – together with inflicting “critical annoyance.”

Chatting with CNN, Steve Friends, a professor of EU and human rights legislation on the College of Essex, famous how extensive these new police powers might be. “All it is advisable do is use one individual – who would not be arduous in a crowd of people that had been principally paying respects to the Queen – to be offended by somebody who’s there to protest the monarchy as an entire.”

“You might equally say that anyone holding up an indication saying ‘We love the monarchy’ is being severely annoying to anyone who does not just like the monarchy. The place does it finish?

Paul Powlesland, a London barrister, was at work on Monday when he noticed media stories of protesters being arrested for expressing anti-monarchy opinions. “In these moments when the consensus is so uniform, that is when free speech is most in danger. I assumed it was necessary to go down and make some extent about freedom of expression,” he advised CNN.

Like Hill, Powlesland stated he didn’t wish to interrupt expressions of royal mourning. He didn’t journey to Buckingham Palace, the place folks had been paying their respects to the Queen. Relatively, he went to Parliament Sq., a conventional website of political protest in London, reverse the Homes of Parliament.

Powlesland stood alone and held up a clean piece of paper. Inside a couple of minutes, he stated “a police officer got here up and requested for my particulars. He stated if I wrote ‘Not my King’ on it, I’d in all probability be arrested as a result of it is offensive beneath the Public Order Act.”

Protesters gathered outside the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, many carrying blank signs.

“I could not threat really writing something on it as a result of I could not be arrested as a result of I needed to symbolize my consumer in a courtroom the following morning. That is the essential level: Even the specter of arrest has a really chilling impact on free speech and the proper to protest.”

Powlesland posted a video of the interplay with the officer on Twitterwhich has since been considered greater than 1.4 million instances.

CNN requested the Metropolitan Police to substantiate their stance on these expressing anti-monarchy views. The Met responded: “Folks have a proper to freedom of expression and we should steadiness the rights of protesters with these of others who want to grievance and respect.”

In the meantime, in an remoted incident within the Scottish capital on Monday, a 22-year-old man was arrested “in reference to a breach of the peace on the Royal Mile,” Britain’s PA Media information company reported.

1000’s of mourners lined the streets in Edinburgh because the Queen’s hear, accompanied by members of the royal household, proceeded from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to St. Giles’ Cathedral. Police Scotland stated a member of the gang broke the silence by heckling Prince Andrew, calling him “a sick previous man.”

Whether or not police are cracking down utilizing powers beneath the Public Order Act 1986 or the recently-established Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, there are freedom of expression considerations.

Liberty stated in an announcement to CNN: “The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act has made it a lot more durable for folks to face up for what they consider with out dealing with the chance of criminalization … As we have already seen this week, that is stifling our freedom to protest, and setting a harmful precedent for the long run.”


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