Victorian police have made calls for tougher laws and more powers to suppress protests, including ‘move-on’ powers and the banning of wearing masks at demonstrations. Other proposed changes include prosecuting protesters for burning flags and insisting that all protests obtain permits from local councils.
The police claim these changes would help to deter violence but in reality they are an attempt to quash resistance and to make it easier to prosecute people who are exercising their democratic right to protest.
If implemented these laws and police powers would undermine democratic rights and threaten the ability of people to freely assemble. They would hinder the ability to oppose measures put forward by governments and businesses.
Police could take advantage of their powers and use them to disrupt protests by blocking marches or arresting those in attendance. They would only need to claim that they thought the protesters were intent on using violence!
Equally threatening is the possibility that these laws could be used to break workers’ strikes or pickets. Socialists fight to defend and extend all democratic rights. We call on all those in the social and labour movements to unite in opposition to all types of anti-protest legislation.
By Dane Letcher