TWENTY-FIVE trade unions and campaign groups in Oxfordshire have signed a statement in opposition to the Government’s Police, Crime Sentencing, and Courts Bill.

The police Bill will hand greater power to police to shut down protests deemed overly noisy or disruptive.

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Oxfordshire groups oppose it because they say it will limit people’s right to protest and impact disproportionally on black and minority communities.

Ian Mckendrick, chairman of Oxford Stand Up To Racism said: “Black and minority communities already face discrimination by the police and justice system. By handing the police and courts more powers, the Government is increasing the discrimination minority communities will face.

"At the same time the ability to protest against institutional racism is being clamped down on, with the new laws designed to limit the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The groups believe protest is a central feature of a healthy democracy and key developments in modern civil rights. They say the bill represents an 'attack' on some of the most fundamental rights of trades unionists and of citizens, especially those from marginalised communities.

Zélie Pelletier, co-facilitator of Rhodes Must Fall Oxford said: “By protesting, we are exercising our legitimate right to democratic free speech and confronting our oppression. We strongly oppose the PCSC Bill which threatens our communities by giving more power to our oppressors. We will not remain silent.”

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The Bill has come under fire by campaigners across the country with a demonstration held on May 1 in London which saw thousands of people gather around Trafalgar Square.

Steve Dawe from Extinction Rebellion Oxford said: “Government initiatives on migration, addressing Britain’s colonial history, and recognising that a higher proportion of ethnic minorities are in poverty than in the majority population, all require major revisions. A Government that invites mass protest and tries to suppress it is in danger of copying bastions of authoritarianism like Belarus.”

Some of the Oxfordshire trade unions and campaign groups that have signed the statement include: CWU South Central Postal, Oxford & District Trades Council and One Justice.