Defending our right to protest and reclaim these streets

by Jamie Klingler

Defending our right to protest and reclaim these streets

by Jamie Klingler
Jamie Klingler
Case Owner
Organiser of “Reclaim These Streets”
20
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£23,465
pledged of £120,000 stretch target from 947 pledges
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Jamie Klingler
Case Owner
Organiser of “Reclaim These Streets”
Pledge now

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Latest: July 9, 2021

Major milestone – the High Court orders that our case can continue

Today we received the welcome news that the court has granted permission for our case to proceed. This means we have overcome the first hurdle and there will be a full hearing at the High Court.


We ar…

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Help us expose the police ban on our vigil for Sarah Everard as unlawful and secure protest rights for the future.


The world faces two pandemics. The first, Covid-19, dominates the headlines. The second, violence against women and girls, rarely does. But for many women and girls, the murder of Sarah Everard and the identity of the arrested suspect – a serving police officer - were a turning point. That’s what inspired us to form #ReclaimTheseStreets and organise a peaceful, respectful vigil for Sarah to help raise the profile of the urgent, wider debate.  

The Metropolitan Police thought it a good use of their resources to silence us. We had no choice but to fight back. And we are still fighting. But in order to keep going, we need your help. 

We have a strong judicial review test case ready to take forward. If we succeed, a precedent will be set, not only for policing in Covid times, but for meaningful respect to be shown for protest rights whenever the police are exercising their powers.

And if ever such a precedent were needed, it is now - Parliament is contemplating giving the police even more powers to control protest under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. 

To take our case to the next stage of the legal process – at which the Court will decide whether our case should have ‘permission to proceed’ - we urgently need to raise £20,000. Please help us by donating now. 

What the case is about

Our case started as an urgent claim for a declaration clarifying the law on protest during lockdown, including on vigils like the one we had planned. The police had warned everyone involved in organizing it could be fined £10,000, arrested, or both. The High Court was asked to review the Police’s stance. 

We were successful in that urgent claim – or so we thought. The court ruled #ReclaimTheseStreets’ view of the law was right – the vigil could be lawful and the police couldn’t. But within hours of the judgment, while discussions between Reclaim these Streets and officers were ongoing, a police press release was issued again proclaiming the vigil illegal. Police couldn’t ban all forms of protest because that would breach human rights law

Facing fines and arrest, #ReclaimTheseStreets stopped organizing the vigil. When many chose to gather anyway, forcible arrests were made and the police were widely criticised.

Weeks on, we are still aghast at the fact that women weren’t permitted to come together lawfully and peacefully to mourn the loss of life, allegedly at the hands of a serving police officer.  

Now, because the case is ongoing, we have the opportunity to greatly reinforce the legal protection for our – and everyone’s - human right to protest, regardless of variants or lockdowns. And just as importantly, if the police are given more power by Parliament, the precedent we hope to set will help hold them back from abusing those powers to suppress peaceful protest. 

Why we need to take this case forward

#ReclaimTheseStreets’ legal case is still live and it remains vitally important. If the Police cannot be held accountable for suppressing an organized, safe, peaceful vigil on the issue of violence against women and girls in the immediate aftermath of a murder where a police officer is the suspected perpetrator, then when can there be accountability? And what meaningful protest rights are there for anyone?

On the merits of the case, we have been advised that the likelihood is that we should win, though that isn’t a certainty.  We have recently received hundreds of pages of documents from the Metropolitan Police which, if anything, reinforce our case against them that the decision to ban the vigil was not about women’s safety or preventing the spread of Covid. 

The vigil is in the past, but the case still matters hugely. People like Karen Reissmann, the NHS nurse who was fined £10,000 for protesting a 1% pay rise, could have fines reversed if our case sets a legal precedent.  

Enshrining our right to protest in law is critical especially if there were to be another lockdown.  They removed the exemption for the right to protest once and can do it again.  When we were initially seeking our right to be confirmed by the court, Harriet Harman wrote to Cressida Dick that not only was the protest legal, but she would be attending. 

Why we need to raise more funds

The money we initially raised has been used up preparing the case for the first hearing, enabling our lawyers (who have been acting on reduced rates) to support us in meetings, demand disclosure from the police and reformulate the claim once we had their documents. 

To make progress, we need more funds now. We will apply for the courts to cap costs--- but that still means that we ultimately need to secure up to £120,000 in order to pursue this case. 

Our immediate, initial target is £20,000 within 10 days – partly to protect us against any claim the police may make for costs; partly to enable our lawyers to respond to the police’s defence. If we raise this, we will be able to take the case to permission stage – where a High Court Judge decides if there is an arguable case. 

Anything you can donate now will help this to be decided in the High Court, expose the police’s abuse of their powers and protect everyone’s protest rights for the future. 

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Update 1

Jamie Klingler

July 9, 2021

Major milestone – the High Court orders that our case can continue

Today we received the welcome news that the court has granted permission for our case to proceed. This means we have overcome the first hurdle and there will be a full hearing at the High Court.


We argue that the decisions made by the Metropolitan Police which stopped the Reclaim These Streets vigil were wrong in law and a breach of human rights. Today, the judge has ordered that our claim should be considered by the court on all grounds. We are one step closer to holding the police accountable for suppressing a peaceful, respectful vigil for Sarah Everard and all women and girls who experience violence.


This is a very positive development and we want to thank you for all your support which has made this possible.

 

What next?


There will be a two day hearing at the High Court, probably in the next few months. We will update you with the date as soon as it is available.


We will now apply to court to cap costs to limit our liability for the government's legal costs. The more we can raise the better the chances are of the court deciding to cap costs.


If fighting to protect our human right to protest still matters to you, please contribute what you can. Any donations to the campaign, however small, would be extremely welcome.


Thank you again for your help. We will continue to keep you updated as our case progresses.

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