Following on from the arrests of dozens of pro-republic demonstrators in London, including Graham Smith – CEO of pressure group Republic – the Met Police has found itself on the defensive as it faces pressure to address the “heavy-handed” tactics on display during the Coronation. Out of 64 arrests, only 4 were charged, in what many fear is a chilling attack on the right to peaceful protest”.
The leader of the London Assembly’s Green group and Islington councillor for Highbury, Caroline Russell AM, presented the London Green Party position across various media outlets this week and expressed concerns that the police action “feels as if it was designed to make people afraid to go and protest”. She highlighted the role played by the Public Order Act in leading to “policing decisions that are questionable”.
Russell, who is also the Chair of the Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee, observed that “people were arrested when they were just unloading placards…if you went and you wanted to express a view that you’d like different constitutional arrangements from a hereditary monarchy, and you wanted to calmly and politely take part in a protest, if was very difficult to get any information about where you were meant to be and any conditions there were on protest”.
The London Green Party reiterates its unconditional defence of freedom of assembly and demands swift answers from the Met Police Commissioner, concerning his forces use of the Public Order Act.