The Defend the Right to Protest campaign was launched in response to violent police tactics and arrests during the anti-fees protests in autumn 2010. Trade unions affiliated to the campaign include UCU, PCS, CWU, NUT and NUS. It is also supported by a number of MPs, activists and other campaign groups. We campaign against police violence, kettling and other uses of violence and intimidation against those who have a right to protest . We campaign to defend all protesters who have been arrested, bailed or charged and are fighting to clear their names and also offer support to a range of campaigns organised and run by defendants.
Alongside campaigning, DTRTP offers legal support for defendants, court support and support for those imprisoned. We also work with other campaigns which cover other areas and contexts of police violence, such as deaths in police custody and racial profiling.
Defend the Right to Protest was originally launched with the following statement:
The Defend The Right To Protest Campaign supports the unprecedented resistance that has risen up against the government’s brutal attack on further and higher education, including the tripling of tuition fees, abolition of EMA and massive cuts in courses and jobs.
We support the demonstrations that took place on 10 November 2010, 24 November 2010 and 9 December 2010 that saw tens of thousands of students, lecturers and education campaigners march against the government’s plans.
We also support the wave of protests and occupations against the privatisation of education that have taken place on campuses across the country.
Yet, these protests have been met with astonishing and violent response from the police, including the routine use of kettling, batons and charges by mounted police. On 9 December 2010 philosophy student Alfie Meadows needed emergency brain surgery after receiving a blow to the head by police in Parliament Square. Activist Jody McIntyre was twice dragged out of his wheelchair by police. Over 180 people, most of them under the age of 25, have so far been arrested in the course of these protests.
The Defend The Right To Protest Campaign unequivocally condemns the behaviour and the use of crowd control and intimidation tactics by the police such as kettling, batoning, use of police dogs, charges b mounted police, use of tasers, use of film interviews of unaccompanied minors, and other techniques that threaten the right to protest and deter people from demonstrating.
We therefore pledge to:
Defend all those protesters who have been arrested, bailed or charged and are fighting to clear their names.
Condemn police brutality and the use of violence on demonstrations against those who have a right to protest against government policy.
Call for an end to kettling and use of all other crowd control tactics that intimidate and threaten the right to protest.
Join the UCU and NUS in demanding a public enquiry and investigation into the arrests of demonstrators and brutalities against them, including an investigation into the police officers involved in the assaults.
We also believe it is vital for all those who value our democratic right to protest to stand in solidarity with students and others who have been arrested or injured by police on these demonstrations.
We appeal to parents, teachers, education workers, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to come to their assistance, build support for them – and join them when they march again to defend our education and the future of the welfare state.