2019 – The year of street protest

Uprising and protest are traditional ways to show leadership that communities disagree with decisions imposed upon them.  Having tried many other means of opposition, protest is often the last available to people and 2019 saw civil unrest around the world.  Citizens took to the streets across South America, Asia, North America, Australia, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Europe – and, I’m sure other places I haven’t mentioned.  Whilst much of this unhappiness has been driven by economics and the deepening division between the “haves” (having more) and the “have nots” (having less) – other powerful influences have been social injustice, LGBTQ+, women’s rights and, of course, the lack of meaningful response to the climate emergency we collectively face.  The youth climate strikes swept around the world like a wave. 

In the UK we have seen our own protests against fracking, climate, HS2, airport expansion, NHS privatisation, Brexit, youth climate strikes, the arms trade, knife crime, racism, political visitors, austerity, implementation of “new coal” and nuclear energy.  What have I missed?

I don’t see 2020 being any less active – in fact, I only foresee an increase in protest activity.

The common response to protest by the authorities is to stamp on it; show intolerance to put people off and to take back control.  The common response are violent or disproportionate actions towards the protesters.  When we do not challenge this wrongful behaviour it quickly becomes the norm and subsequently as protest continues this acceptance triggers a dangerous spiral. 

As 2020 unfolds and people go back on the streets to voice their objections and concerns Protest Justice seeks to:

  • Support people in making effective complaints about inappropriate, disproportionate behaviour experienced or witnessed whilst they are protesting
  • Gather information to create “the big picture” of protest on the front line across the UK 
  • Highlight and challenge wrongful behaviour, aggression and violence towards people attending protest

During 2019 we can already see patterns of behaviour across policing, the manner in which protesters are treated when they report abuse they have received, and the division deliberately created by industry and the authorities within communities.  As a new year brings new challenges it also brings new opportunities and a renewed sense of purpose.  I look forward to strengthening our partnerships and forging new ones, to support the essential work of those who stand together against social injustice and oppression.

I wish you all a peaceful and safe year – and one filled with courage and solidarity.